By ROBERT HARRIS
Palms West Monthly
Posted June 6, 2017
WEST PALM BEACH — Northwood Village artist Anthony Burks jumped at the chance to take part in the City of West Palm Beach’s latest outdoor art exhibit, Aesop’s Tables, hoping to join other artists selected to depict their visual interpretation of the classic fables onto picnic tables.
And when he submitted his interpretation of “The Lion and the Mouse,” Burks didn’t have to search far for his inspiration.
“In my version, the lion is female,” he says, “because she represents my mother.”
We all remember the children’s story of the amused lion who let the scared mouse go without being eaten when the mouse promised to someday repay the favor, only to be saved from a hunter’s net some days later by that same mouse, who gnawed through the rope.
“When I was young and we’d go on a picnic or whatever, my mom would always give help to the homeless, offer them some food,” says Burks. “That’s why the lion must be female, because females show compassion. A male lion would have just eaten the mouse.”
His submission of “The Lion and the Mouse” impressed the nine-member committee that oversees the West Palm Beach’s Art in Public Places program so much, they asked Burks to create one more.
As Burks brings his latest creation to life atop a picnic table on a recent morning under a tent on the Waterfront surrounded by 18 other artists finishing up their works, he says he takes every piece of art he creates personally.
“I have to feel it to create it,” Burks says as he gently glides his colored pencils around the mane of the lion. “I’m getting ready to work on ‘The Rooster and the Jewel’ over there,” he adds as he points to an all-white picnic table – a clean slate ready for his touch.
Across the tent, artist Tiffany Beasi is engrossed in her own table artwork depicting the “The Jay and the Peacock.”
For Beasi, who lives in Boca Raton, being a part of Aesop’s Tables is an extension of her interest in public art projects.
“I’ve done outdoor murals in both Lake Worth and Northwood Village,” she says.
Beasi, who’s been painting since age three, is best known for her acrylic works on canvas. “I have a very vibrant style,” she adds.
Thanks to Beasi, Burks and the other 17 local artists selected to interpret these famous fables, visitors to downtown will have the opportunity to sit, relax and enjoy their summer days on 25 hand-painted picnic tables during the city’s third annual Summer in Paradise promotion.
“The goals of this unique public art installation are to engage the community and celebrate the talent of our local artists,” says Mary Pinak, community events manager for the City of West Palm Beach. “Aesop’s Tables will not only be a visually exciting addition to the waterfront, but also serve as a convener for connections and conversations with residents and visitors from all backgrounds.”
Aesop’s Tables makes its official debut during the Summer in Paradise Kickoff at Clematis by Night Thursday, June 1.
What really makes this outdoor art installation special is because of what happens at the end of summer.
Every one of the 25 picnic tables has been paired with a local nonprofit who will encourage supporters to promote their respective table across social media throughout the summer.
Then, on Thursday, Aug. 31 at Clematis by Night, the tables will be auctioned off with proceeds benefitting the nonprofit partnered with each table.
It’s all part of Mayor Jeri Muoio’s pledge declaring the City of West Palm Beach as a “City of Kindness.”
Participating nonprofits include American Cancer Society – Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, Autism Speaks, Gulfstream Goodwill Industries, Adopt-A-Family of the Palm Beaches, United Way of Palm Beach County, Dress for Success Palm Beaches, Susan G. Komen South Florida, Seagull Services, Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League and Habitat for Humanity.
“This fundraiser is a shining example of what this year’s Summer in Paradise is all about: Community,” says Pinak. “This year’s art installation gives residents and visitors a unique way to learn about our many nonprofits and support worthwhile community initiatives.”
The artists aren’t the only ones who get to be creative this summer.
Children visiting the waterfront beginning June 1 will be able to imagine their very own story in StoryVille. That’s where they can create a life-size fairy tale using giant cut-outs of traditional storybook characters. This free activity will be open daily from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Also beginning June 1, the community is invited to participate in some friendly competition in larger-than-life versions of their favorite games such as human foosball and life-sized Jenga. Game balls, Jenga pieces and a selection of table-top board games are available to be checked out for free.
The popular Glow FORE it Mini Golf also returns this year, where visitors can play nine holes of glow-in-the-dark mini golf along the Intracoastal Waterway for $2.50 per person per round. All games are open to the public daily from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Game balls, golf clubs and board games are located at the Waterfront activity station near the course.
Ongoing SIP Events
The City of West Palm Beach has many more free family-friendly events planned throughout the summer. Other Summer in Paradise events include:
• Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach Children’s Story Time, to be held Wednesdays at 10:15 a.m. from June 14 to July 26;
• Clematis by Night, running every Thursday from June 1 to Aug. 31 from 6-10 p.m. on the West Palm Beach Waterfront. Concertgoers will enjoy special extended hours and two featured bands every Thursday throughout the summer;
• The Northwood Mango Heritage Festival, which takes place Saturday, June 24 from noon to 10 p.m. on Northwood Road in West Palm Beach. This free tropical festival brings all things mangoes to Northwood Village and includes live reggae, Latin fusion and Caribbean music along with mango-infused food and beverages;
• 4th on Flagler, to be held Tuesday, July 4 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the West Palm Beach Waterfront. South Florida’s largest free outdoor Independence Day celebration will feature two stages of entertainment. There also will be children’s activities, giant games, a military honor ceremony and an 18-minute fireworks extravaganza over the Intracoastal.
For a complete listing of the City of West Palm Beach’s summer activities, including Summer in Paradise events, go online to wpb.org/events.