Guests enjoy a jazzy evening at the Museum

VERO BEACH — The Vero Beach Museum of Art promised “Warm Nights, Cool Jazz in the Park” and they certainly delivered at Thursday evening’s Jazz in the Sculpture Park, the first of three events planned for the upcoming season.

The Museum’s entrance acquired a whole new look over the summer and this was the first public event showcasing the improvements.  Jazzy sounds from the James Archer Quartet enticed visitors in from the parking lot into the new, wonderfully landscaped Alice and Jim Beckwith North Sculpture Park. The Sculpture Park has charmingly transformed the large grassy area fronting the building with tropical plantings and winding paths circling around and providing access to the Museum’s permanent, outdoor sculptures.  Mirroring the Alice and Jim Beckwith Park in at the south end of the Museum, works are now perched atop grassy mounds to show them off to their best advantage.

“The sculpture really didn’t have an adequate home before,” said Lucinda Gedeon, VBMA Executive Director/CEO.  “A lot of people never even saw the backs of the pieces because they didn’t want to walk on the grass.”

She points out the whimsical Trial Scene, by Tom Otterness, depicting a jury trial of the cat that swallowed the canary; the accused is on the witness stand with feathers sticking out of its mouth.

“It has a story to tell; now you can see the humor,” said Gedeon.

This was also the first time that many were seeing the Museum’s functional facelift.  The former broad steps which led to a center entrance, have given way to side doors opening into an air-locked vestibule.  The breezeway created by the previous doors was problematic for the art, not to mention a few hairdos.

“We are planning a complete change to the air conditioning system” said Gedeon. This was the first part of a long-term effort to create an environment that is better climate controlled.”

The next phase in that project, due for completion by December, is the Laura and Bill Buck Atrium which will enclose the Wahlstrom Sculpture Garden, allowing its use regardless of weather conditions.

The larger than expected crowd wandered around the expansive Sculpture Park, savoring the sunset and taking advantage of benches scattered throughout the garden to sit and listen to the music.  A few brave souls tried to lure others to the dance area in front of the band, but most seemed content to just relax and socialize with friends.

A beaming Alice Beckwith said she was delighted with the Sculpture Park.

“When we did the back, I knew that I wanted to make it complete, said Beckwith.  “I think it’s wonderful; it meets all my expectations.”

Admitting that she has always liked gardening, Beckwith added with a smile, “I made a few suggestions too.”  {igallery 286}

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