Bringing public art projects to life downtown

Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 01:30 PM.

PANAMA CITY — I was people-watching in the lobby of the Panama City Library last Sunday when artist Heather Parker sidled up to let me know about some “public art” projects she’s trying to set in motion.

We were at the library for the opening of her CityArts Cooperative cohort Heather Clements’ exhibit on cut paper art, which drew a good-sized crowd to hear Heather C discuss her evolution as an artist, view her work, and buy her new art book.

Heather P indicated the downtown area would soon be the scene of some monkeyshines: She and other artists have already begun cutting out the shapes of apes like those you’d find in the classic children’s toy, “Barrel of Monkeys” — only closer to life size — with an eye toward setting them loose in the wilds of Panama City.

“Size can vary,” she said. “Right now I’m using scrap foam I have around. Eight decent sized ones can be cut from a full sheet.”

Allan Branch of Less Everything Inc. in PC is funding larger sheets for larger monkeys, she said. Like their tiny toy counterparts, the foam apes are shaped with hooked arms and tails so they can be linked together in chains and dangled from awnings, trees, lamp posts and buildings.

“Art is about more than murals and painting,” she said. “It’s about exploring, laughter, joy.”

The “monkey bombing” of downtown isn’t planned to happen until June, leaving a few months to amass at least a barrel full before the event. The effort is just one way Heather P’s trying to bring art to the public — and bring the public downtown this spring. She would like downtown Panama City (along with St. Andrews) to become a regional art hub.

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