By Lance Ferguson, reprinted with permission from The Ledger.
Guests at Hyatt Place or anyone who loves art can now take a self-guided tour around downtown Lakeland in Platform Art’s Public Art Walk.
“We teamed up with the Hyatt Place (adjacent to The Lakeland Center) to encourage visitors to walk downtown and then to encourage residents to find this public art,” said Michael Maguire of Platform Art.
Tickets with a guide to five locations are available for free in the Hyatt Place lobby.
The journey begins by heading east on the Orange Street bridge. Two sets of ceramic tiles adorn the sides. The south side tiles were designed by Vincent Sansone. The north side tiles were designed by Beate Marsten.
The next stops are Platform Art Community Garden followed by the lobby in Lakeland City Hall. Twenty-three photographs by Maguire are on display there.
“The whole concept here is to expose the public art pieces, to make sure people become aware of them, give them some reason to go see them and enjoy them,” Maguire said. “All of it can be viewed online, but there’s nothing like doing it in person.”
Bryan Dunbar, general manager for Hyatt Place, agrees.
He said anytime a guest asks for things to do in Lakeland, the art walk is his first suggestion.
“It’s a great idea. Any way we can get involved with the community is great for us,” Dunbar said, adding that he hopes to continue the partnership with Platform Art by collaborating with its future projects.
“As a fun punctuation mark, they can go to a little shop on Kentucky Avenue called Two Hens and a Hound and pick up a button, maybe one that represents their favorite piece of the art walk,” Maguire said.
Buttons featuring photos of one of the pieces of art are free at the gift and framing shop.
Terisa Glover, one of the owners of Two Hens and a Hound, said it is great Platform Art is bringing awareness to public art in Lakeland.
“A lot of people don’t realize what’s out there just in your own back yard,” Glover said. An ‘Honor’ box for donations is located at Two Hens and a Hound. “That’s why, even here, we support the local artist.”
The final stop is at a street sculpture installation along Lemon Street near South Florida Avenue. Winning pieces from the Polk Museum of Art’s annual outdoor sculpture competition are on display.
“Public art is part of the defining identity of any community,” Maguire said.
“It isn’t about the size, it’s about the character of the community, and we believe that public art, which can be visited and experienced for free, is the best kind there can be.”