Meet the Filipino-American artist behind the 151-foot “Jax” sculpture arriving in the New Downtown Park
JACKSONVILLE, Florida – The artist known as Jefrë, born Jefre Figueras Manuel, has created life-size public works of art in cities such as Manila, London, Abu Dhabi and Orlando.
After a decision made by a city committee Thursday, it looks like his next massive art installation will be in Jacksonville, in the new park where Jacksonville Landing once stood.
Perkins and Will, which received the highest marks on three designs presented to the Downtown Investment Authority (DIA), was chosen to redevelop Riverfront Plaza with a beer garden, hotel, playground and steel “Jax” 151-foot multi-million dollar stainless steel ”sculpture designed by Jefrë.
Downtown Investment Authority CEO Lori Boyer said the sculpture – tentatively named “The Jax” – is one of the main reasons she chose the Perkins & Will design over two other competitors.
The Filipino-American artist from Florida celebrated the selection on his Instagram page.
“I’ve always had the chance to create artwork for developers or buildings, but this is the first time I’ve had the chance to create an ICNE for a CITY! He wrote on Instagram. “Thank you @cityofjax for this incredible opportunity and thanks to @perkinswill @perkinswill_miami for trusting me and inviting me to be part of your team! Let’s go !!! “
So what was the inspiration behind the design?
“It’s really art about people,” Jefrë told News4Jax on Thursday. “It’s really about understanding the city, the people and the culture.
During a presentation last month, Jefrë said his vision for sculpture began with the Saint John River.
“It’s really this idea of not having the river horizontal but bringing it vertically into the city,” he said. “And as I was looking at vertical shapes, I started with this idea of an anchor, the idea that you know, Jacksonville is an anchor for Florida.”
When he started looking at the shapes tied to the anchors, he looked at the ropes and that’s when the idea started to germinate.
“But that was interesting, because I kind of cut the anchor in half, it started to look like a ‘J’. And I really wanted to see some ideas of where there really was not just the river but also the people of Jacksonville, ”he said.
And the symbolism goes further than that. The “J” is 310 feet long, which is 310 miles the length of the St. Johns River.
“So there is actually art here that has a certain symbolism for what is authentically Jacksonville,” he added.
Jefrë said the goal of the sculpture, which will cost between $ 11 million and $ 18 million, is to become a cultural icon, create postcard moments and help the city earn money through a branding and at events.
“They all draw close to 40 million visitors, and you can call it whatever you want if that’s the kind of attraction that we bring to the city of Jacksonville,” he said.
Although DIA loves sculpture, not everyone is a fan. Some people say the words are hard to distinguish and are more like “Lex” or other words.
“Welcome to Lexonville! wrote a commentator on News4Jax.
Jefrë does not seem phased by the critics. He understands that sculpture can be seen or interpreted in many ways.
He looks forward to working on the new project and changing Jacksonville’s skyline for years to come.
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