MARCO ISLAND — A large, magnificent and inspiring image of the Calusa people will greet visitors to the Marco Island History Museum when it opens in February.
An eight-by-40-foot tile mural - the image crafted by one of Florida's best known and loved artists, Paul Arsenault - will grace the exterior wall of the museum on Heathwood Drive.
"This will be the largest original art ceramic tile exterior mural in North America," said Paul Whitehill, president of Images-in-Tile, the Missouri-based company, which will install the history museum mural.
Arsenault's image was selected by hundreds of votes cast this summer online and during showings at M&I Bank and the Marco Eagle/Naples Daily News Group, both of whom sponsored the selection process.
Join the Marco Island Historical Society for the formal selection announcement of Arsenault's painting 12 p.m., Sept. 30, at the museum next to the Marco Island branch of the Collier County Library. Arsenault will be on hand for the announcement and presentation.
Voters were asked to choose between Arsenualt's painting and another outstanding and stunning painting by world-famous artist Jonathan Green.
The finalist paintings from Arsenault and Green were part of a series of original art work produced for the Marco Historical Society's 2008 series, "Art Interprets History: Visions of Marco Island's Past."
The exhibit produced by MIHS also featured the work of Robert Charles Gruppé, Stephen Muldoon and Rachel Kennedy. A distinguished panel of artists, art dealers, collectors and historians narrowed down to the two finalists from the paintings produced for Art Interprets History series and selected specific works by Arsenault and Green.
M&I Bank has agreed to sponsor creating the mural for the new Marco Island Historical Museum. M&I Bank has been working with the MIHS throughout the entire building campaign.
M&I has been part of Marco Island and Naples for 25 years and as an institution it goes back 162 years, the oldest bank in America still operating under its original name. M&I is the single largest corporate sponsor of the museum. "Our partnership with the historical society, the mural and the museum appeals to us because it will be there in perpetuity and that's like M&I," said Tom Wagor, president of M&I in Southwest Florida.
"The mural will leave a nice legacy for our community here on Marco," Wagor said.
After extensive research, the MIHS selected Images-in-Tile for the mural's construction. Company president, Whitehill, will be present Sept. 30 to answer questions about the construction.
The company built the mural at Norris Community Center in Naples as well as four murals at various Whole Foods stores around Florida and a large mural at Tiger Stadium in Detroit. The mural's solar tiles are guaranteed for 100 years, will not fade and require practically no maintenance.
All 720 individual tiles, or the mural, will be sold at $100 a piece to raise the remaining funds needed to complete the Marco Island Historical Museum. Information on purchasing the tiles can be found on the MIHS website at themihs.org.
Arsenault's painting is based on archaeological research conducted on Marco Island and reflects the life and times of the Calusa people.
An 1896 dig conducted by the Smithsonian yielded over 2000 artifacts which attest to the sophistication and artistry of the Calusa, the predominant native people inhabiting Southwest Florida when Spanish ships arrived in the mid-16th Century. Called Calusa by the Spanish, the indigenous people occupied the region from what is now Tampa Bay to the southern tip of the Florida peninsula and deep inland. A sophisticated and organized culture, the Calusa became the victims of disease and European expansion by the early 19th Century.
Background Facts: The panel which selected the artists for Art Interprets History and chose the two finalist paintings, included Mrs. Olga Hirshhorn, wife of the late Joseph H. Hirshhorn, patron and founder of the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C.; Anne Gallagher, resident of Marco Island and Martha's Vineyard, board member of the Featherstone Arts Center on Martha's Vineyard and gallery instructor at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; Andy Browne, graduate from Boston University's School of Fine Arts and student at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. Andy is not only a distinguished artist but she is the Program Manager at the United Arts Council of Collier County where she runs artistic outreach efforts in schools in Immokalee. These original panelists were joined by Bill Meek, arts patron and owner of the Harmon-Meek Gallery in Naples and Craig Woodward, art collector, attorney and member of the MIHS Building Committee, to aid in the selection of the final paintings for the mural.
Paul Arsenault began painting at the age of 16 when he won the Frank Vining Smith Award, competing with a number of adult painters. Following graduation from the Art Institute of Boston in 1973, he joined the Research Vessel Gosnold at Wood Hole Oceanographic Institute. Following the advice of legendary Florida landscape painter, A.E. "Beanie" Backus, to "Jump ship and start painting," Arsenault set up his base of operation for the past 30 years in Old Naples and established a summer gallery on Nantucket. His art work has taken him to over 35 countries and 5 continents. Paul's art hangs in museums and corporate collections around the United States. He has won numerous awards for his work and for his commitment to historic and environmental conservation efforts. (arsenaultstudio.com/).
For more information, contact: Steve Hart, 239-825-0603; firstname.lastname@example.org