“Florida Allegory” Exhibits Art Of Florida Flora And Fauna At Lake Wales Art Center
by James Coulter
The sculptures of David Price and paintings of Jeff Ripple are currently on display, both in-person and virtually, at the Lake Wales Art Center. The exhibit, “Florida Allegory,” showcases Florida’s natural artistic beauty through the bronze sculptures of fauna and the oil paintings of flora.
“I think it is especially poignant because it is especially Florida,” said Amanda McCallister, Director of Programs at the Lake Wales Art Council. “It is Florida wildlife, Florida landscape, and we are in the heart of Central Florida, and it makes for a beautiful show that resonates with the people of our community.”
“Florida Allegory” celebrated its grand opening with a reception hosted last Friday. Guests were able to see the artwork and meet the artists inside the gallery and enjoy live music and food trucks outside.
Both the sculptures and the oil paintings accentuate each other in their luminous display of Florida wildlife. Furthermore, the audio landscape of chirping birds and other natural sounds help immerse guests into the spirit of the great outdoors.
“I want people to take away the harmony that we have with our natural landscapes and natural wildlife in Florida, how much they are a part of our life, and how fine art encapsulates our culture,” McCallister said.
David Price, Sculptor
As a young boy, David Price loved spending time in the woods and looking at animals. He especially loved studying the shapes and forms of both plants and animals. This love would inspire him to study botany.
His parents took him to Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina, which has the largest outdoor collection of figurative sculptures. The outdoor flora and fauna and the display of art sculptures inspired him to gain an interest in sculpting.
“I wanted to be a sculptor and I wanted to work in a garden,” Price said. “Then I found myself working in Bok Tower Gardens and creating sculptures.”
His work at Bok Tower allows him to be out in nature and experience animals, many of which inspired him to craft his sculptures. It has also allowed him to meet other artists, as well as wildlife experts.
Price studies animals in their natural outdoor environment and recreates them in bronze. He strives to impart these animals’ emotions through their unique movements, gestures, and actions.
“Each animal, their body speaks to what they do,” Price said. “Osprey have incredible talons that are really sharp, and they have spikes in their feet for catching fish. The alligator is designed well to live in the water and to move and be a predator. I like to look at what animals do and how they are shaped and impart an emotion to the piece.”
Having lived in Lake Wales for more than 30 years, Price is more than proud to have such a large collection of his artwork showcased in his community, and he hopes that it inspires others the same way he was inspired.
“The art center is near and dear to my heart,” he said. “I have not had this many pieces in a show. I am glad to be able to share this with the community. Many people don’t have the opportunity to see my work, but I am happy to have this venue.”
Jeff Ripple, Oil Painter
From mangrove swamps to sandy beaches, Jeff Ripple has painted more than 26 oil paintings of outdoor scenery and landscapes. The outdoors, evidently, are his inspiration, while his influences are 19th century Luminous and Hudson River artists.
He loves their style, how the artists would, like him, go outdoors, be inspired by the scenery, and then go back inside to let their imaginations run wild upon the canvas, he said.
Ripple uses his inspiration from outdoor landscapes and scenery, as well as photographic and video references, and combines them in his head before re-arranging them onto the canvas for a unique art piece.
“I think what I enjoy the most is what the painting approaches a hope that I had for it,” Ripple said. “For every painting, there is hope that it is going to turn out as you wish.”
Ripple lives in Tallahassee, and he has been visiting Lake Wales for many years. He is close friends with Price, so he is more than honored to share a venue space with him and his artwork.
Accentuating his landscape artwork is the added dimension of the audio landscape, which he recorded himself the week before the reception. Walking through the show, guests can not only see the beauty of nature but hear it as well.
“I love Lake Wales,” Ripple said. “The place has a lot of good memories with great people, and I am glad to be able to do this with them.”
Lake Wales Art Center
Even despite these uncertain times, the Lake Wales Art Center has managed to gift the local community with the fine arts, primarily through their virtual exhibits. “Florida Allegory” can be viewed both at the art center and virtually on-line through their website, allowing guests to enjoy their artwork safely.
“I think we have done very well keeping our patrons in mind and keeping them at the forefront of our thoughts, so we are providing safe and socially distant environments and opportunities for people to come out and engage in the community and mix indoor and outdoor spaces,” she said.
The Lake Wales Art Council will be hosting the 50th Anniversary of the CB&T Lake Wales Arts Festival, hosted on the shores of Lake Wailes Park on Feb. 20-21, along with their annual Art-B-Q on Feb. 21.
“Florida Allegory” will be on display from Jan. 15 to Mar. 12 at the Lake Wales Art Center, located at 1099 SR 60 E, Lake Wales, FL 33853. For more information, visit their website at: http://www.lakewalesartscouncil.org/