Lightner Museum, A Collection of Underrated Busts

In St. Augustine at the Lightner Museum, the art collections are breathtaking. From the oil paintings, a part of the Daywood Collection, to the complex, beautifully cut glass vases, bowls, and bottles. Every floor of the museum is a world of its own. As tourists and visitors strolled around the rooms, they admired everything except the statues and busts. People walked past them as if they were invisible. Whereas for me, these sculpted pieces of brilliance swallowed the majority of my phone’s photo storage space. How could one not stop and admire the imaginative detail of these busts and statues?

I suppose the popularity of art theft and every Tom, Dick, and Harry owning a statuary business. Each one is stocked with replicas of the infamous European statues. I purchased a replica bust of Michelangelo’s David, two Venus de Milo statues, and two Greek Goddess busts from multiple statuaries right here in my city. To make matters worst, you can order a replica from anywhere in the world by simply opening your Amazon Prime account. Now you can have all the greats right in your home, why bother to visit the museum.

I understand that nowadays, that busts are made out of plastic, concrete, and alabaster. Like most productions today, objects are made by the hundreds per hour as they run through machines. Wouldn’t this fact alone make the ones seen in museums that much more valuable? Could you imagine how difficult it was for sculptors like Donatello, Michelangelo, and Gian Lorenzo to sculpt entire bodies and details using only simple hand-held tools? They were the machines! I try to keep this in mind whenever I visit a museum and I run across a bust or statue in the collection. It doesn’t matter how many statues I have at my home, standing before an original will alway leave me in a state of awe.

In my opinion, I believe the Museum should find a way to make the statues and busts more appealing. It’s not fair that they’re overlooked like another home decor item at a store. Perhaps a small room dedicated to them just like the Porcelain and Glass floor. All art should be admired regardless of the medium, subject matter, and purpose of creation.

I finally got my favorite statue of all time. It’s a replica of course, but it’s mine.

St. Patty’s in St. Augustine

The holiday St. Patrick’s day couldn’t have fallen on a better day this year. This year it was on a Saturday during Spring Break and Bike Week in Daytona, FL. My dear friend and co-worker, Maddy, lived in Jacksonville for ten years and had never been to a lighthouse. Since we were both finally off on Saturday we thought we’d make the best out of it and head to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum. I had already been once but since it was her first time, I thought why not?

We ate our breakfast on the road since we had an hour drive to go from Jacksonville to St. Augustine. I made sure to gas up the day before because I already knew the traffic we were going to face on the way. With everyone on Spring Break vacation and bikers flooding the Atlantic coast line back and forth from Daytona for 2018 Bike Week event, it was bound to be a ton of traffic and endless lines everywhere we went.

We finally arrive at the lighthouse and Maddy and I cut through the gift shop to take a peak at all the cheap trinkets we’d buy to savor the memory. Maddy had a heart set on a t-shirt and I craved jewelry or a snow globe. After paying the fee to climb the lighthouse, we started on our way through some covered garden area. Maddy saw the lighthouse through the trees, whipped out her phone faster than Superman ever could and began snapping pics. The smile on her face resembled a child on Christmas morning ready open gifts from Santa.

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First sighting of the lighthouse through covered garden. Image Credit: Maddy Shade

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Maddy enjoying the lighthouse. Image Credit: Maddy Shade

We bought water before heading up to the lighthouse just incase we needed it for the rather steep climb up. 219 steps to be exact. Seeing the warning sign before entering the building brought back the horrid memories of my last climb up this twisted goliath. I honestly felt like my lungs were going to burst, this time it wasn’t so bad. I suppose all the hiking I’ve done at other State Parks has helped my body prepare for strenuous tasks… sort of.

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Last minute warning sign before climbing. Image Credit: Maddy Shade

Before actually climbing the lighthouse, visitors have a chance to check out the artifacts of the lighthouse including a sample oil bucket of what the Light Keeper had to carry up and down the stairs. The steel bucket is about forty to fifty pounds and that’s without oil! The oil’s weight jumped it close to seventy pounds!

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Sample oil bucket. Image Credit: Maddy Shade

Before the climb up, Maddy snapped a picture of the twisted stairs that were crowded with other visitors sporting their green for St. Patty’s day.

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The twisted Goliath. 219 steps. Image Credit: Maddy Shade

After getting to the top, the view was incredible, just as I remembered it. Every body of water were filled with sail boats, ships, and yachts. Every street was packed with people and traffic. Even the sky had a few planes buzzing through. The weather was perfect. The scenery was breathtaking. We had the luck of the Irish on our side.

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Top of the Lighthouse Image Credit: Maddy Shade & The guy who took our picture.

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A view of the Matanzas River and Vilano Beach. Image Credit: Maddy Shade

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Light and lens above the lantern room. Image Credit: Maddy Shade

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Selfies at the top of the lighthouse. Image Credit: Maddy Shade

After nearly an hour and a half up there, we made our way back down to finish exploring. In the Light Keeper’s mansion, we got to study some more of the artifacts from the lighthouse and checked out a basement area where we learned about diving equipment and treasure found in the sea.

The trip was a huge success and looking forward to another adventure!

Grace Bio, Living in History

The downtown library in Jacksonville, FL recently won Library of the Year for their extreme involvement in local art and culture. I haven’t been there in forever (because I hate downtown parking and one-way streets) so I thought it would be good to be in a new environment while I worked on my screenplays, travel blog, and photoshop projects. I could barely get through the main lobby before I whipped out my Nikon and started snapping.

The library presented a new collection of local artwork called, “Living in History.” Local artists created works that represented anything in history. Most of the work was fantastic, but one took me away. Grace Bio, a local painter whose work seems to stand above the rest with the smooth, bold colors splashed on the canvas creating an image symbolizing the beauty of American History.

My favorite of hers (hard to choose) was the “Offering,” piece. It was as if she painted the Native American woman straight from life. Every detail of the woman’s age, wisdom and grace are right on the canvas for all the world to see. Looking at the woman, it reminds me of one of my all-time favorite Disney films, Pocahontas.

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What I love most is her ability to draw you in not just because of her use of bright colors, but her ability to create an image of something that makes you curious about what other underlying messages she may have hidden in her work. For example, the painting, “Family Tree” would probably mean just that, a family tree, but what other message is hidden? Could it be a plea for African American families to get back to the days of strong family ties? Is it a message of stating that without family, we are lost?

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O, the possibilities!

Regardless of what is obvious or hidden, the fact remains, Grace Bio is talented. Her artwork is a reflection of her passion and her eye to see things in a different light.

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For more on her, check out her Facebook page.

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Grace Bio – Painter, Lightworker