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Largely ignored by ineffectual leadership, our urban center evolved into a wasteland of demolished buildings, leaving parking lots in its wake while city planners focused on haphazard suburban sprawl. Thankfully, many visionaries with unstoppable momentum believed Jacksonville to be a place on the river full of entertainment, culture, business, and green space that better reflected its citizens’ true potential. Even as city officials continually created new obstacles, these dreamers pressed on with a motto most often echoed throughout the private sector, “Jacksonville could be so great if ____.”
Since architecture and design are both an art and a business, this annual issue feels like a seamless fit. Arbus takes great pride in serving as the platform for so many of the region’s best architects, designers, and builders to promote their work.
Take a look and discover this year’s most exciting changes to our built environment.
Jacksonville is a vast city—the largest incorporated city in landmass within the contiguous United States—and it’s also a complicated city, as Jacksonville Historical Society CEO Alan J. Bliss likes to say.
“It’s complicated, it’s authentic, and it has many stories,” he shares on the lecture circuit in any given week, visiting business and civic groups from early morning to evening and spreading the word about Jacksonville’s Bicentennial, an occasion which the citizens of Jacksonville are encouraged to commemorate, celebrate, and elevate during 2022.
A new exhibition at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens celebrates a noted American Impressionist painter and shines a light on 1880s Jacksonville. Frederick Carl Frieseke moved to northeast Florida in 1881 at the age of seven. He lived just outside the Jacksonville city limits along with his father and sister. The young boy was enchanted with his new surroundings. His family stayed four years before returning to Michigan. Although he would not return, Frieseke never forgot his time on the First Coast. Later in life, while living near Giverny, France, he created a series of watercolors and paintings inspired by his childhood. He exhibited the paintings in Paris at the Galeries Durand-Ruel in 1926 and the Salon des Tuilleries in 1927, then in New York at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 1927 and at the Macbeth Gallery in 1929. Assembled from the Cummer’s permanent collection, the Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida, the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach, and private lenders, the exhibition brings together 16 of Frieseke’s 18 Florida watercolors and five of their companion oil paintings. Shown alongside a series of historic photographs, the exhibition is a charming snapshot of our city’s past through the eyes of a child who ultimately became an internationally respected artist.
Probably most famous for the photograph that appeared in national news during Hurricane Matthew, “Spiritualized Life” was created by Charles Adrian Pillars to honor those lost during World War I. The piece was privately commissioned by the Citizens Committee in 1920 and unveiled in Memorial Park on Christmas Day, 1924. It is one of the first pieces of public art in the city and still stands as one of the most iconic sculptures in Jacksonville.