“I’ll know what I like when I see it.” I have heard that phrase over and over again during my interior design career. I must tell you—this statement illustrates the challenges faced when trying to zero in on a direction for the look, feel, and quality of your design project, whether it’s a new corporate build-out or a home renovation. Short of hiring a team of dedicated psychologists, therapists, color theorists, and sociologists, here are some tips on how to find your way.
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.
Over on Margaret Street in Five Points is a collaborative space of six artist studios owned by well-known local power couple Fitz Pullins, of Fitz Pullins Interiors, and Steve Williams, artist and CEO of Harbinger. The focus is on artistic collaboration. “Community over competition is so important,” says Pullins. “Having a house full of creatives helps you to be more creative as an artist and opens your mind to other possibilities.”
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.
The ongoing process of racial reckoning that’s been taking place around the country over the past few years has occurred on many different fronts, be it the classroom, the pulpit, or the streets of hundreds of cities from coast to coast. This process has peaked (so far) with the social protests we saw sweeping the nation after George Floyd’s murder in 2020. Locally, there were protests here in Jacksonville, St. Augustine, the Beaches, and beyond.
Local author Tim Gilmore, Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) English professor, historian, and creator of jaxpsychogeo.com, knows a lot about bizarre, local lore and our city’s most idiosyncratic characters. Virginia King is certainly one of those—she spent decades feverishly documenting 1960-80s Jacksonville by word and photo, ultimately writing some 8,000 pages by hand in an effort to “capture the city,” as Gilmore puts it. Gilmore wrote a book about King in 2015, titled The Mad Atlas of Virginia King, that has now been adapted into a play by the same name.