The Arts Council of Plant City was finally able to give its annual tour of this year’s J. Seward Johnson Sculpture Exhibit on Sunday, highlighting the artist’s ultra-realistic work as it’s displayed downtown.
Johnson’s sculptures come to town around December every year to bring some more fun to the downtown district for a few months. It’s an exercise in still-life art that captures many slices of life. Historically significant photographs like the V-J Day kiss in Times Square or Marilyn Monroe’s iconic “flying skirt” moment from the 1955 film “The Seven-Year Itch” have been recreated to give passersby three-dimensional experiences. Most sculptures depict everyday people in everyday situations, whether it be a pair of children playing near Drane Street, a woman strolling past Tennessee Jane along Reynolds Street after a shopping trip, a window washer cleaning the front of the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce or a businessman taking a nap on a bench installed in front of the Plant City Photo Archives and History Center.
The man on the bench, in particular, has drawn a lot of attention from passersby — many of whom failed to realize it was a sculpture, not a real person, and have left food, water and blankets on site for him.
This is the eighth year in which the sculptures have been displayed around Plant City. The annual exhibit is sponsored by the Arts Council, Unity in the Community, the Plant City Photo Archives and History Center and the City of Plant City.
Gil Gott, of the Plant City Photo Archives and History Center, led the tour group all over downtown and gave attendees a wealth of information about even the smallest details in each sculpture. The group left each sculpture with the knowledge of everything from the backstory of that V-J Day scene to how much it would cost to buy some of the clothing or accessories the sculptures wore.
Many people couldn’t pass on a fun photo op with the sculptures. Several were rewarded for their creativity. The Arts Council’s Snap a Selfie contest tasked people with getting as creative as possible in taking selfies with the statues and the winning photos were posted to the group’s Facebook page. The top three finishers were Nicole and Chris Girard, Michelle Middleton and Molly Fain & Family, respectively. Each winner received a prize pack with goodies and gift cards from local businesses like Roots Tap Room and Wine Bar, Tub Treats, Krazy Kup and Walden Lake Car Wash. All winners were also invited to join the group for the walking tour.
This year’s crop of 10 sculptures was installed Dec. 7, 2020 and will remain on display through March 15.
- “No Hands” — Bruton Memorial Library, north side
- “Allow Me” — City Hall, south entrance
- “Nice to See You” — Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce
- “Big Sister” — South Collins Street/Northwest Drane Street
- “Cat Nap” — Plant City Photo Archives and History Center
- “Forever Marilyn” — McCall Park (South Collins Street)
- “Wine, Food and Thou” — East Reynolds Street/South Collins Street
- “Sidewalk Concert” — North Palmer Street (The Corner Store)
- “Embracing Peace” — Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum
- “No Way” — Village Green Park (next to fountain)