Palm Coast, FL – Communities often work hand in hand with their area’s local arts organizations to find interesting ways to showcase the assets of locale, sometimes designing unique programs or projects to meet their objective.
In Flagler County, one of the area’s art in public places programs is the creation of the Palm Coast Arts Foundation and it’s executive director Nancy Crouch. With the inception of “The Turtle Trail” in 2017, Flagler County embarked on an effort that garnered the affection of the community and become a marketable asset for Flagler County’s tourism officials.
Starting with the first turtle “Claude”, it’s been a steady stream of support and interest, and Crouch shared the growth – 18 turtles in all, with 15 installed and 3 in development, with attendees on Friday during a lunch and learn hosted at the Palm Coast Community Center.
“It’s our first full overview of The Turtle Trail from concept to installation,” said Crouch, a bit surprised by the turnout for the lecture and panel. “I was surprised but I think it’s because the community has really embraced this project. Everybody loves The Turtle Trail and the turtles.”
A full house, the public’s interest in the project brought the Fabulous Females of Palm Coast out to learn more about the trail.
“We had no idea what we would learn,” said Barbara Hart, a member of the group. “It is amazing, and we would love to come and see more of these community activities, but the amazing thing I found today was the blind artist. To me, that’s unreal.”
“We like to do things that don’t involve eating and drinking, and this included eating but not like going to a restaurant. And I love to things in the community that supports the community,” said Trish Parker.
“I think education and information is key to improving whatever it is you want to improve, so if you want to improve community involvement, this is certainly getting the arts out there. These turtles are fun, so I think it’s great.”
Supporting the discussion, artists whose handiwork graces the giant loggerhead turtles in various locations across the county, were on hand to share a bit of the backstory on their work of art with the audience.
“I think it’s really bringing attention to the talent that we have in our community,” shared Crouch. “I have no problem finding artists who want to participate in this project – they all want to, it’s just finding the right artist for the concept the sponsor has in mind.”
Artists Paul Beaulieu and Tom Anastasio contributed to the Claude Monet-themed 4×5 foot turtle, the first to be installed in Flagler County in April 2018.
“We put together a lot of conceptual ideas,” said Anastasio. “We gave each other the freedom that we needed, so with my theatrical background and his commercial background, it kind of blended into something that became a prototype.”
Each artist provided input, evolving into the finished product that provides not only activities for residents and visitors alike, but serves as an educational tool.
“I knew that Nancy’s goal was to have, I believe, 50 total, so I think she’s got some pretty high standards she’s trying to hit,” said Beaulieu. “I think people get a kick out of seeing how many different permutations you can have of the same turtle. It’s the artists that make them different. (And) it’s a teaching tool for children.”
Elevating the arts in the community from a local to global level, from a young age is a benefit of The Turtle Trail.
“This is going to provide the impetus to keep that going,” said Anastasio. “This is something for the kids too. Nancy’s making brochures, and everybody walks around on an artistic pilgrimage to teach kids something. And that’s what it is, not just a turtle. It’s a whole program.”