The HeArt of the Turtle project is the brainchild of artist Glenda Smith and involves other artists and the business community to raise funds for local youth programs.
Smith, the force behind the St. Croix Walls Project, organizing mural paintings on the walls at Sunshine Mall, in Estate Williams Delight and Cotton Valley, said the project began with a survey. She stopped at bus shanty and school drop-offs to talk to school children and their parents, asking what was the most iconic animal to represent the island. The answer was overwhelming – the sea turtle.
“It wasn’t something I pulled out of the air,” Smith told the Source.
The next step was to decide how to depict the turtle. With the help of wood worker Chris Lima, beach salvage and repurposed or recycled wood was transformed into “sculptures” that stand about six feet high. The base of the turtles is a 30-inch cable spool.
Smith next lined up 10 local artists to paint (or tile or inlay with glass) the turtles and their stands, and she located popular public spots where the finished art will be displayed for 14 months. The artists and sponsors will be recognized with a plaque on their work of art. After that time, the art will be auctioned off.
The artists are: Becky Snodgrass, Marilyn May, Sarah Cooper, Isabel Picard, Cathy Booth, Gretchen Goslin, Claudia Hodges, Waldy Brodhurst, Elizabeth Keith and Lynn Voytershark.
The turtles will “hatch” Nov. 9 at Sandcastles on the Beach. The art will be displayed for the public on the beach. A party at the hotel with music, appetizers and specialty drinks will raise funds through ticket sales and a silent auction.
Funds raised will benefit two local youth groups. Project Promise is a five-year-old after school program at Lew Muckle Elementary School. Its purpose is to empower at-risk youth by focusing on skills, education, community service, culture, health and career choices. The members of the group are mentored through high school and college. Last summer, the group toured mainland America for three weeks doing good deeds in various cities.
“We would like to thank Glenda and the St. Croix Walls Project for selecting Project Promise as a beneficiary of The HeArt of Turtles initiative,” said Resa O’Reilly, Project Promise founder and president. “Their donated turtle sculpture will be a part of our 2021 Silent Auction Fundraiser and will help us raise funds for our much needed programs.”
The other beneficiary of the funds raised is Junior Scientists of the Sea, which started on St. Croix in 2017 with 12 members from the Boys and Girls Club of the Virgin Islands. It is a national nonprofit organization that begun in 2005 as a science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics – STEAM – enrichment program by Les Burke, a former Navy Seal diver in Key West, Florida.
Tickets for the “hatching” are $15 for hors d’oeuvres, music and beverages from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., with signature cocktails on sale for $6. Doc Petersen and other local musicians will perform live music.
From November 2019 to January 2021, the turtle art will be on display at locations such as the Frederiksted Pier, Christiansted Seaport, Club Comanche, Mutiny Island Vodka, Leatherback Brewery, Cane Bay, Caribbean Breezes and three unnamed locations.