Introduction to Our Beach Orcas Art Project
For over a century, the Richmond Beach Community Association (RBCA) has been a vital force in maintaining our neighborhood’s quality of life by bringing neighbors together at events, keeping them informed and facilitating neighborhood enhancements.
One of the most recent community enhancements is the debut of the RBCA Beach Orcas art project.
The Big Question?
It all started with a simple question. In the spring of 2016, the RBCA Board spent a lot of time at Board meetings discussing the question, “How can RBCA express our deep appreciation to the entire Richmond Beach community for all they do to help make Richmond Beach a thriving, vibrant neighborhood?”
When we started brainstorming possible answers to our question, we obviously didn’t know where it would lead us. We knew we wanted the RBCA tribute to the community to be something tangible, lasting, public and first-class. We knew we wanted something that would help us as a community distinguish ourselves with our own unique neighborhood brand or identity. We just weren’t sure what the answer would be.
The Question Answered!
Eventually, our early brainstorms coalesced into something concrete. In September 2016, the RBCA Board voted unanimously to launch a Richmond Beach Public Art project called Beach Orcas on Parade. Ultimately the answer took shape in the form of 22 artist-embellished Beach Orcas to be on display in prominent outdoor locations throughout our community.
We issued a Call for Artists and received over 65 proposals by very talented artists. A peer jury selected 22 art pieces for entry in our exhibit. Selected artists spent about eight weeks embellishing what is referred to in the trade as a blank. For our project, the blank (see photo above) was a hollow fiberglass whale, weighing in at about 5 lbs. and standing 23” tall and 43” wide.
Building Community Together
As the artists began preparing their art pieces, the Richmond Beach community began their own preparations. Community businesses enthusiastically volunteered to help. Gorgeous Gardens business owner and Richmond Beach resident Tom LaFreniere helped build community when his crew literally broke ground on the project. Tom donated the services of his company’s three-person crew (plus Tom) to construct 21 below-ground assembly mounts for the orca stands. They hauled, mixed and poured over a ton of concrete. They drilled more than 60 feet of holes and took away all of the fill dirt. All of this in the spirit of community building and at their expense.
Another community business, Shoreline Maaco Auto Painting, donated their services to apply an expensive auto-quality clear coat spray to all of the orca art pieces. Plus, owner Jon Veenendaal generously agreed to paint the orca stands for RBCA. All of this on his tab.
And, of course, there was community building by community members. Don Rothwell played a pivotal role in translating the idea of Beach Orcas to reality. He grabbed ahold of the concept and ran with it all of the way to finish line. Don designed the model orca, fabricated the plastic molds and engineered the construction of the orca stands. Without his leadership, the project could not have happened. Neighbor and architect Chakorn Phisuthikul crafted the architectural drawings required for the orca stands. Other community members contributed to transport orcas, plan the community artist reception and erect the orcas on their stands. Not surprisingly, friends from other neighborhoods volunteered to help. Pete Gerhard, Chair of the Richmond Highlands Neighborhood Association, spent several hours in the dirt helping to remove the temporary supports for the orca stands. Innis Arden community member Laura Taylor volunteered, on short notice, to brave wind and rain to help with placement.
Throughout this initiative, the City of Shoreline was incredibly encouraging and supportive. Shoreline Public Art Coordinator David Francis and Shoreline Neighborhoods Coordinator Constance Perenyi served as liaisons in the City’s contribution to this project.
The Gift Unwrapped
The coming out party for the 22 Beach Orcas happened on April 27th, 2017, at Shoreline City Hall. The RBCA Board, in cooperation with the City of Shoreline, hosted a reception to honor all of the Beach Orca artists. Over 150 individuals gathered to view the Beach Orcas, up close and personal, plus meet the artists.
It was a delightful evening of art, music, and camaraderie with neighbors and local artists.
Next stops: Strawberry Festival, then mini-pods on display in Richmond Beach
The next opportunity for the community to commune with the Beach Orcas will be at the RBCA Strawberry Festival on May 13th. Soon after the Strawberry Festival, all Beach Orcas head out to be individually displayed on 8 foot stands in mini-pods at seven locations throughout Richmond Beach.
Stay tuned for details!
Thank you Richmond Beach community,
RBCA Board of Directors