Rock ‘n’ Stroll
City sidewalks jammin’ with 10-foot-tall guitar sculptures.
Jimi Hendrix, Bon Jovi and other music legends have hit Orlando’s streets—in the form of 10-foot-tall guitar sculptures inspired by them and their songs.
The 35 sculptures are part of the Gibson GuitarTown project, a months-long outdoor fundraising event that will benefit local arts and charities.
Local artists painted the fiberglass, stringless Les Paul guitars, which stand in front of City Hall, the CityArts Factory and other downtown sites. The guitars are anchored by 600-pound bases.
Many of the artists took cues from favorite musicians. One guitar shows Willie Nelson, in sunglasses and a cowboy hat, against a red paisley background.
Some of the art is less obviously tied to musicians: Orlandoan Mark Hadley’s work, “Envy,” depicts a woman with long, flowing hair and butterflies hovering up the neck of the guitar.
“We were shocked at the quality of art that was submitted,” says Carla Warlow, who served on the committee that chose the final designs out of about 175 applications. The artists were not paid for their work, she adds. Each artist was matched with a $10,000 sponsorship, with the money benefiting four charities.
Artist Deborah Knispel of Winter Springs took inspiration from Bon Jovi’s “Shot Through the Heart,” but she had to tweak her original design depicting crime scene tape and a bullet wound. The toned-down version has a Cupid’s arrow.
Orlando follows London, Austin and Nashville as GuitarTowns. Miami is next.
In May, the guitar sculptures will be auctioned, with proceeds going to support the Downtown Arts District, Parramore Kids Zone, the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness and Page 15, an organization that tutors Orlando students in reading and writing.
Gibson expects to raise at least $400,000 in the auction.