Saturday, March 5, 2016

Edgardo Carmona's Iron Sculptures in Downtown Fort Myers

In his sculptures, Colombian artist Edgardo Carmona showcases “likable characters that make Cartagena, Colombia, what it is.” The sculptures, all carved from rustic iron, depict characters and scenes from Mr. Carmona’s hometown, where he was born in 1950. The figures represent people who might otherwise not be featured in sculptures: A simple-minded boy fishing in a bucket, a woman caught on a windy day, two drunks on a park bench, men playing chess, a fruit seller, a knife sharpener and more. They represent “the commonality of real people,” Carmona said. The artist is pleased at the way his work looks in downtown Fort Myers. In his own words, “This place reminds me of my hometown of Cartagena, Colombia.  It has a colonial feel that goes well with my pieces.”

Shipped overseas from Paris, the iron sculptures range from 200 to 1,000 pounds and up to 10 feet tall. They are currently installed throughout the River District until March 31. Since 2003, Mr. Carmons’s  artwork has been exhibited in South America, Germany, and most recently in an 18-city tour of Europe, including Paris. Many of his works are on permanent display around the world, but this is Mr. Carmona’s first North American exhibit. 

This exhibit is world class. Carmona’s sculptures come to Fort Myers compliments of fellow Colombians Eduardo Caballero (Carmona’s childhood friend in Cartagena, Colombia) and Abel Ramirez of the Miami-based JAXI Builders, Inc. The exhibit serves as both a public art gift and a kick-off to the sales of Allure, a 292-unit luxury condominium community to be built by JAXI Builders along the Caloosahatchee River, starting in 2017.

The sculptures are loosely grouped in clusters, and at each sculpture, there is an information brochure that gives the map and the name and description of the sculpture. The sculptures are all at a reasonable distance from each other, but  they don’t necessarily stand out from their background--many of them are, by design, street scenes, so it is important to consult the map in order not to miss any. These sculptures are amazing. Not only is the artist working with metal--not the easiest kind of material to mold into human shapes and have it look like anything--but his most fascinating creations are immediately recognizable and capture a moment in time that conveys meaning to the observer.

SCULPTURES NEAR THE DOWNTOWN RIVER BASIN


10.0  

A rhythmic gymnast manipulates a ribbon that spirals in the wind. She exhibits strength, flexibility, balance and grace-- a perfect "10."


10.0


Anguila (Eel)

This sculpture captures in the air the subtle and graceful movements of an eel. 


Anguila



Deshove (Spawning)

The sculpture recreates the moment of fertilization of fish eggs. The females lay the eggs and the males fertilize them by releasing their seed over the eggs.


Deshove


Nostalgia de cuerdas (Nostalgia of the Strings)

Remembrance of the one who pulled the strings/made things happen. 
Carmona recreates the figurative with silence and space.


Nostalgia de cuerdas


Utopia (foreground) and Sintonia



Utopia 

The sculpture depicts Simon El Bobito, (Simple Simon) a character from a fable by Rafael Pombo, a Colombian poet. In the original story, the little boy fishes from a bucket, but catches nothing. Carmona helps Simon out by putting a fish in his bucket for him to catch.


Utopia


Sintonia (Harmony)

The subject sits on his rocking chair and listens to the radio while reading a favorite book. This work of art depicts the nostalgia of passing time.


Sintonia



Brisas 

Wind is the main character in this piece. The wind ruffles the woman’s skirt and almost snatches the umbrella from her hand. Surprisingly but fittingly, the sculpture gives an impression of movement. 'Brisas' stands outside the City Pier building on Hendry Street, now the home to the Allure sales gallery. 


Brisas

SCULPTURES ON FIRST STREET
(Toward Broadway)  



Juego de Domino (Domino Game

Domino players are an important part of outdoor living in the Caribbean and Antilles. The players sit around a domino game and carefully strategize each move.


Juego de Domino



El Vendedor de raspao (Snow cone street vendor

The street vendor selling “raspaos” (snow cones), transforms giant blocks of ice into tiny pieces of shaved ice, and gives them the sweet flavors of lime, tamarind (a light, fruity flavor), and Kola


El Vendedor de raspao



Vendedora de frutas 


The palenquera (female fruit seller) is depicted with her grand fruit basket sitting at her feet. She often carries the basket above her head, as if she carried with her the weight of the world.


Vendedora de frutas


SCULPTURES ON FIRST STREET 
(Toward Jackson Street)


Faena En La Plaza (Performance on the plaza)

A juggler is sitting atop his unicycle with his rings in action. The rings ascend and descend as he balances on his unicycle. 


Faena En La Plaza


Melomano (Music lover)

A music lover sits in his rocking chair listening to music. He leans in to the speaker so that he doesn’t miss a note of the music.


Melomano


Juego de Ajedrez (Chess Game)

The opponents sit face to face across the board. Each move could lead to winning or losing the game. There is a difference between the strategy of a chess player and domino player, so each game has its devotees.


Juego de Ajedrez


Negacion a Baco (Refusal to Bacchus, god of wine)

After the work day in the late evening hours, those who have had too much to drink are sitting around on  park benches. In this sculpture, a whole story unfolds as one man refuses to take one more drink from his friend.  


Negacion a Baco

SCULPTURES OFF FIRST STREET IN CORNOG PLAZA





Al Galope 

The horse, although standing still, is both alert and eager to gallop away. 


Al Galope


Al Filo 

The knife sharpener waits for neighbors to visit his shop with old cooking knives in dire need of sharpening. Through this piece, Carmona brings to life the memory of the old knife sharpener’s job.


Al Filo

SCULPTURES ON HENDRY AND SECOND STREET 

(Toward City Hall)


Territorio 

The dog is “marking his territory” while outdoors in the same way that the man does while leaning against the light pole. Some people in Fort Myers considered this sculpture in poor taste, but it's too clever not to enjoy.


Territorio



Trialogo (Trilogy)

The bicycle, cyclist and dog create a scene with movement in this sculptural display. The dog runs towards the pedaling cyclist attempting to bite at his heels.


Trialogo



Cadencia (Cadence)

The drum integrates itself to the body and hands of the artist, as if they were one. From the position of his hands, you anticipate the next beat coming from the drum.


Cadencia


Mambeo (Coca)

This sculpture is an homage to the indigenous Kogui community in Santa Marta’s Sierra Nevada. “El Mamo,” recognized as the tribe’s leader, is brought to life in this sculpture depicting a common practice of chewing on coca leaves.


Mambeo

The exhibit of Carmona’s larger-than-life, artfully rusted sculptures — a promotion for the planned luxury condo towers Allure — was organized through the city’s Public Art Committee and Allure’s staff, including   developer Eduardo Caballero. Fort Myers was very fortunate to have hosted an exhibit of this caliber, and I greatly enjoyed visiting it. 

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