Finding sponsors is next step for `Flamingos in Paradise' project
By Marilyn Bowden
More than 400 designs have been approved for "Flamingos in Paradise," a project of Miami-Dade Art in Public Places.
Organizers said the number actually hatched will depend on how many are adopted by the corporate community.
In meetings of the Flamingo Review Committee that wrapped up last week, 432 designs were accepted from 648 entries, said Lea Nickless Verrecchia, coordinator of education & community outreach.
Finding sponsorship for the birds is the next step, she said.
The project, based on Chicago's nationally popular "Cows on Parade," aims to place flocks of 8-foot fiberglass flamingos, decorated with paint or collage by local artists, in public venues across the county.
In cities such as Miami or Orlando where large businesses are the exception, finding corporate sponsors for the arts can be a struggle, said Brenda Robinson, who heads a similar LizArt program that kicked off in Orlando in October.
"People are familiar with `Cows on Parade,'" she said, "so this has been a little easier."
About 65 sponsored lizards have been "released," she said. Efforts to find sponsors for more will continue until the exhibit ends in May 2002.
Starting this summer Orlando plans to sell collateral materials, she said, in the form of key chains, mugs, tote bags and the like.
Proceeds from public and online auctions June 2002 will go to the Downtown Arts District, Ms. Robinson said.
For Liz Art, she said, Orlando had an advantage over Miami in the form of Universal Orlando. Ms. Robinson said Universal contributed $100,000 to LizArt in exchange for "their logo on everything."
In Miami, the sponsorship deal works a bit differently, Ms. Verrecchia said, in that sponsors have the option of keeping their flamingos once the show is over. If they opt to put it on auction, the proceeds will go to the charity of their choice.
Sponsors have their choice of design - wings against the body or unfurled - and artist.
"We have binders with all the approved designs on display," she said. "If they want to use a particular artist who isn't represented, they can submit a rendering to us for approval."
The cost of sponsorship for a bird with wings down is $4,000 to auction or $7,500 to own, she said. Sponsoring winged flamingos, more expensive to manufacture, runs $5,000 and $9,000.
Costs include a $1,000 honorarium for the artist.
"Cows on Parade," exhibited in Chicago in 1999, has inspired dozens of knockoffs featuring regional icons around the US and Canada, according to information from the Chicago Public Art Program - including dancing pigs in Cincinnati, moose in Toronto, buffalo in Buffalo and Mr. Potato Head in Providence.
In addition to lizards in Orlando, Florida can boast dolphins in Key West and manatees in Fort Pierce and Jacksonville.
Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo is mounting an exhibit called "City Critters" this summer featuring more than 50 of the artsy animals.
"We had lots of discussions about different creatures," Ms. Verrecchia said, "including manatees and dolphins. They do provide a big canvas. But because they don't have legs, they're more difficult to install in public places."
Board members thought dolphins might also engender too many allusions to the football team, she said.
Flamingos - real or in the plastic kitsch version of the 1950s and '60s - have "a strong connection to Miami," Ms. Verrecchia said. "They're playful. And the nature of the project is playful."
"Flamingos in Paradise" is scheduled for December through April 2002, with a public auction towards the end of the exhibit.
Details:(305) 375-5362 or flamingosinparadise.com