For all of April, a giant pair of aqua-colored sunglasses evoking green palms and blue waters perched at the intersection of Okeechobee Blvd. and Rosemary Ave., marking the entranceway to The Square promenade in downtown West Palm Beach. Instead of lenses, snapshots by by photographer and filmmaker JeanCarlo Ramirez of Palm Beach County’s cultural life filled the frames. This ideal selfie backdrop drew visitors and locals alike to document their days on the town and, as a bonus, help the region circulate its brand on social media. More than a photo op, the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County’s signature specs also symbolized the impending arrival of MOSAIC, aka the “Month of Shows, Art, Ideas and Culture” that the Cultural Council puts on every May.
MOSAIC invited everyone here in May to explore and support The Palm Beaches’ many “Shades Of Culture” by picking from more than 30 local experiences in 31 days. It could be turtles at Loggerhead Marinelife Center, blown glass artisans at Benzaiten Center for Creative Arts, the monoliths at the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens or a painting excursion to the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary with animals as your subjects. Or you may might have taken in a new MOSAIC addition for 2023: a Palm Beach County Open Studios art crawl on May 20, with dozens of local artists welcoming visitors into their creative work spaces.
“Over 25 cultural organizations are participating in MOSAIC this May,” Lauren Perry, the Cultural Council’s director of marketing and tourism said. “While this month-long celebration is designed to draw tourists to The Palm Beaches, there are some amazing deals on admission to museums, tickets to live performances, exciting eco-tours and hands-on art classes that Palm Beach County residents won’t want to miss.”
Discounted attractions included pop-up workshops on select dates at Armory Art Center and select classes at Lighthouse ArtCenter Gallery & School of Art. New additions to MOSAIC for 2023 include two touring Broadway shows: “Legally Blonde” at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts and “Topdog/Underdog” at Palm Beach Dramaworks. Perry hopes participants will help spread the word — and the pictures — online by picking up MOSAIC branded sunglasses (regular size and perfectly wearable) at sponsored events and capture their “Instagrammable moments” using the hashtags #MOSAICPBC and #ShadesOfCulture.
To promote the monthlong campaign, the Cultural Council recently assembled a small preview group at the larger-than-life sunglasses and sent them on a journey through The Square Arts District. Starting at the big shades, the group weaved through the mall’s corridors, taking notice of and learning about The Square’s own installations — its hand-painted murals, mosaic-tiled staircases, and one of its more permanent visual centerpiece, the fountain.
Management at The Square is likewise encouraging visitors to snap away in the Art District, and to dig deeper into the stories behind the artists and their striking pieces. We can confirm: The jumbled lettered rooftop sign is not a mysterious ad; it’s an art installation.
Here’s another revelation: “The Wishing Tree,” a banyan-like beauty standing tall in The Square’s center, contains 100,000 individually programmable, full-color-spectrum LEDs that in turn create the light embedded in the tree’s 10,000 “leaves.” Custom built by the San Francisco based collective Symmetry Labs, The Wishing Tree runs on a lighting algorithm “inspired by the fluid behavior of South Florida’s inherent weather systems,” according to The Square’s online explainer.
Hidden artistic gems like a towering LED tree can be found throughout Palm Beach County. During this year’s MOSAIC, art-lovers along South East Florida’s coast can discover and re-discover installations, sculptures and exhibitions at favorite including The Society of The Four Arts, Armory Art Center, Mounts Botanical Garden, and Arts Garage.
After the little group tour of The Square, guests were welcomed to a private reception at True Food Kitchen to meet and greet the annual campaign’s official artist: Florida native Tiffany Beasi. The artist’s cerulean blue acrylic theme painting, appropriately juxtaposed against lime green booths and a pastel floral mural backdrop, was impossible to miss as local artists, photographers and press mingled, noshed and chatted about Palm Beach County’s cultural uniqueness. Nestled in the back corner of the restaurant, next a to “Live True” mural, this group was itself a snapshot of MOSAIC’s celebratory good vibe.
As Beasi herself put it, “Palm Beach County is at once legendary and luxurious.” Her painting, “Palm Beach Blooming,” evokes the region’s wealth of history, artistry and wildlife. “This journey across musical, dance, and art culture drifts along with iconic botanical elements,” she wrote in a statement for MOSAIC, “a blooming hibiscus, swaying palm trees, and the pointed petals of a bird-of-paradise flower,
Locals will also recognize references in the painting to some Palm Beach County landmarks: the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum, Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, and Mounts Botanical Gardens. (Beasi is making reproductions of her 28” x 20” tropical ballad and limited-edition lapel pins available for purchase.)
Artisan cocktails and bites concluded the night, followed by Norton Open Studios’ drop-in art class held on the lawn of The Square, led by Palm-based professional fine artist Anthony Burks, Sr., whose creative footprint flows through the county. Burks is the muralist behind “Natural Beauty Nicole Escalera” — often referred to as the woman and butterfly — located in the alley way next to Subculture Coffee in downtown.
The theme of local artistry pervaded the preview and it defines the annual campaign. In its sixth year, MOSAIC has partnered with Zero Empty Spaces to launch this year’s first-ever open studio sessions. “For the first time visitors are invited to explore art spaces and studios, and interact with 65+ professional artists during Palm Beach County Open Studios on May 20,” said Perry. “During this free event, visitors will have the chance to visit Palm Beach County-based creative professionals where they work, witnessing the creative process with the opportunity to purchase art directly from the creator. Artists’ demonstrations will range from painting to glass blowing, photography, jewelry making, sculpture, printmaking and more.”
Resident artists including Burks will participate in the open studio day at venues including Zero Empty Spaces at Legacy Place and at Boca Raton Innovation Campus. Beasi will welcome visitors to her painting studio, located at CCPBC’s headquarters in the historic Robert M. Montgomery, Jr. Building downtown Lake Worth.
Beasi is emblematic of a regional arts scene that has made its way into the winder art world. She’s an accomplished, multi-disciplinary artist with hand-painted original works on display internationally in Hard Rock venues in Las Vegas, Dublin, Buenos Aires and Munich). During MOSAIC, another Florida native, Sarah LaPierre, will debut her new studio at The Peach artist space in West Palm Beach. Local and international visitors may already know LaPierre’s palette-knife, thick-paint style often depicting vibrant, tropi-pop scenes inspired by local flora and fauna. Her mural work has been featured locally at The Square, while her paintings are regularly on display at the local annual art show ArtiGras. Other creatives based at The Peach will be there to welcome LaPierre and her MOSIAC guests.
With Palm Beach County now boldly calling itself “Florida’s Cultural Capital” — and even trademarking the phrase — local officials are aiming high in a region where the competition for visitors and prestige includes the Wynwood arts district and internationally renowned Art Basel, two counties away in Miami-Dade. MOSAIC is The Palm Beaches putting its own cultural riches forward — visual, historical, theatrical, musical, environmental, architectural — with the confidence that they can live up to the promise contained in that patented tagline.
The Cultural Council, with its sunglasses logo representing a way of “seeking the arts different,” is also reminding people that culture is more than just high-dollar fine art displays encircled by club nights and cocktail parties. In the Palm Beaches, it’s also community-centered, year-round attractions and institutions such as the Cox Science Center and Aquarium, The Wick Theatre & Museum Club, Rohl’s Readery, Sunfest, Lighthouse ArtCenter Gallery and School of Art, Maltz Jupiter Theatre, Arts Garage and Mandel JCC Boynton Beach, Palm Beach Photographic Centre, Taras Oceanographic Foundation and The Wick Theatre & Museum Club, to name just a few of the participants in MOSAIC.
This article originally appeared in PureHoney Magazine. Check them out here.