Florence Events Center (FEC) is preparing for its 20th anniversary next year with Dancing with Sea Lions, a coastal wide celebration of the sea lion and the Florence area. Jennifer Connor, FEC marketing specialist and event coordinator, said, “This is a project not just for the FEC and our celebration, but a project for the city, community and whole Oregon coast.” Dancing with Sea Lions will be a public art display sponsored by the nonprofit group Friends of the Florence Events Center and local businesses and individuals. Twenty area artists will be a huge part of the project that consists of 20 7.5-foot fiberglass sea lions.
Sponsorships are now available for the project. Sponsoring a sea lion will cost $1,500. The FEC is looking for a total of 20 sponsors to fund the sea lions, though other sponsorship options are also available. Currently, two businesses are “Stellar Underwriters” for the project: Sea Lion Caves and Three Rivers Casino Resort. That leaves just 18 statue sponsorships available, and the FEC, Banner Bank and Oregon Pacific Bank, Siuslaw News already turned in forms. “I keep going back to our original theme, that the arts have a ripple effect on the community. Art reaches out to all ages, and this project will reach out to all ages too. The art that has been displayed under the roof of the FEC has come from all around us and we want it to radiate back up the Oregon Coast.” Connor said.
The FEC recently agreed to a design for the sea lion, nicknamed “Porter.” (pictured above) “It’s a cow sea lion,” Connor explained. “She’s been modeled after a sea lion that’s actually in the water.” An earlier design featured a sea lion in more of a lounging, stationary position. Porter now looks active, and depending on which base the fiberglass figure occupies, can look like she is doing several motions.
The Dancing with Sea Lions committee based the more active design on the logo, initially created by Karylynn Keppol, of Florence, who is now a senior at The Art Institute of Portland.
Keppol’s sea lion design is also featured on Dancing with Sea Lions geocache coins, created by Cheryl Pinnock.
The coins will be awarded to geocache enthusiasts who can get codes for visiting the various sea lions on display.
Connor said the project will really kick off Sunday, Nov. 1, when the call to artists goes out. Artists will be able to pick up a packet detailing dates and design requirements from the FEC website, the Florence Events Center Office, or the Newport Performing Arts Center.
“We just received a grant from Spirit Mountain Community Fund to provide stipends for the artists,” Connor said. The $500 stipend is for artists who are selected and who complete the project.
“In the beginning, they will get $250 up front so that they can get their supplies and start the project. When the sea lion is completed, they’ll get another $250. We hope that’s an incentive to bring in the artists, and that will get a lot of ideas going,” she said.
A line-art drawing will be available for artists to compose their color sketch, where they will also need to list design elements and materials. All artist applications will be due by the afternoon of Friday, Dec. 4.
“I hope that our local artists really jump in and get excited about this. It’s an opportunity for them to be recognized,” Connor said. She added that the Florence Public Arts Committee is helping set standards, so certain designs will not be allowed. Selected artists will be notified by the end of December. They will receive their statues in early January and finish work in March, before the April 7 and 8 Dancing with Sea Lions Splash Off, when all 20 unique sea lions will be on display at the FEC.
While they are on display, a map will detail each of the 20 locations, starting at the Umpqua Discovery Center in Reedsport, stretching through Florence, past the Sea Lion Caves on Highway 101 and following the trail all the way up toward Newport, where 3 or 4 of the Sea Lions will live next summer. Many of the sea lions will be available for auction in October 2016. Connor said, “I foresee that some of these sea lions will be in the area for years.” For more information about the project, contact Jennifer Connor at the Florence Events Center office at 541-997-1994, at the FEC website at www.eventcenter.org or visit www.facebook .com/DancingWithSeaLions.