Sculptures by the Sea Project to foster arts education, beautify Beaches


A year-long public art installation in Jacksonville Beach will foster arts education and appreciation while beautifying a previously undeveloped piece of property in Jacksonville Beach.

The UNF Sculptures by the Sea project will display student sculptures on a newly landscaped and designed walk on property owned by MountainStar, located at 480 First St. S. in Jacksonville Beach, across the street from the city’s Oceanfront Park. MountainStar Capital and the Lazzara Family Foundation provided a $50,000 gift to UNF to support students and its sculpture program, headed by Dr. Jenny Hager, UNF associate professor of sculpture. MountainStar Capital also donated the land’s use for the year-long event.

“Because of their passion and enthusiasm for art, the Lazzara family has generously provided a forum not only for our talented students to display their creative artwork but a beautiful space at the beach where the entire public can come and be inspired,” said UNF President John Delaney. “We’re appreciative of this family’s impact on UNF and this community.”

The gift supported the creation of 11 miniature sculptures, which were entered into a contest for the public art installation. Five finalists were chosen by a committee comprised of professional artists, art professors, a Jacksonville Beach City Council member, a member of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville and members of the UNF SACC.

The winning sculptures to be on display by UNF seniors include “Ongoing Life” by Gillian Harper, “Still Swimming” by Emily Pinnell, “Symbiosis” by Mary Ratcliff and “Wild Bird” by Diana Shepherd. “Ode to Franklin County” will also be on display by UNF junior David Peters.

“This piece of property is now not only beautified but the sculptures can be enjoyed by anyone visiting the beach,” said Christopher Lazzara, CEO of MountainStar Capital and chair of the community awareness and outreach committee of the SACC. “We are thrilled this project has come to fruition from an idea we had to support UNF while providing a creative way to showcase its sculpture program. Our hope is it will encourage similar gifts from private individuals and companies and spawn new public art in Jacksonville Beach and beyond.”

The art will be installed in early June and the property will be open to the public for free from dawn to dusk for the next year.

The Lazzara Family Foundation, based in Ponte Vedra Beach, funds projects focusing on the arts, education and the emotional and physical health challenges in the community. The Foundation provides grants both directly to eligible organizations and through fundraising events that utilize and engage community volunteers. Since 1997, the Foundation has given more than $15 million in grants to worthy organizations.