Want to catch some culture on the fly? Many airports around the world are gaining notoriety for art displays. Add to that list Southwest Florida International Airport.
In a growing trend to make local and regional cultural statements through art exhibits, the Naples Museum of Art at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts, the Lee County Alliance for the Arts and Southwest Florida International Airport have completed the arduous job of installing renowned artist Louise Nevelson's largest and most complex environmental sculpture and her last major work.
It stands in the airport's main terminal as a visual symphony among seven colossal sculptures, three of which hang about 10½ feet in length like gigantic icicles high above from the sky-lit cathedral ceiling in Terminal B.
Standing among the elements of "Dawn's Forest" (1986), made of white painted wood elements in geometric shapes at their new home, is awesome, said one traveler.
"It is an impressive statement for the area," said departing visitor Bob Funk, 63, who was heading from his property in Bonita Springs to his home in Illinois. "There is an idea behind the white," he said as he looked up at one of the towering columns.
"It's supposed to give you a clean impression. Each individual piece is so unique," he said.
The 3.3-ton sculpture ensemble includes three hanging elements, a 22-foot-tall floor segment and a 31-by-11-foot relief wall, as well as two tall columns.
The logistics to get the "Dawn's Forest" sculpture elements uninstalled from their home of two years at the Patty and Jay Baker Naples Museum of Art at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts, transported to and installed at the airport, were not easy, said Kathleen van Bergen, CEO and president of the Naples Museum of Art.
"It took two weeks to uninstall the work, and then two weeks more to install it at the airport," she said.
The transport was complete after six trips aboard a 23-foot, climate-controlled truck. Employees of the museum and the airport worked diligently with engineers at the new site.
The goal, said van Bergen, is to "raise awareness for the quality of the arts and culture we have in Southwest Florida. People spend more and more time at the airport, so the airport is kind of a representation of the community. This piece is quite an exclamation point, welcoming people to our community."
An estimated 7.5 million people travel through the airport every year.
At age 6, in 1905, Nevelson immigrated to the U.S. from Russia. She grew up in Rockland, Maine, then moved to New York, and she eventually gained fame in the 1960s.
Nevelson is widely recognized as one of the pre-eminent American artists of the last half of the 20th century. She died in 1988, two years after finishing "Dawn's Forest."
A family from Lehigh Acres, dropping off visiting relatives, enjoyed the art display while waiting.
"It's odd-looking," said Lindsay Miller, 17. "It's just random. I think I'd like it better if the artist had painted some purple in it."
Her brother, Roger Miller, 23, had other thoughts.
"I appreciate it," he said. "Obviously, it took some time. I like it artistically. You can explore the shading."
Roger Miller Sr., 45, said "it brings something to the airport. It's better than looking at the airplanes."
Many of the visitors to the airport stopped and looked, and many do what busy travelers do — they walked right by.
"One of the many incredible characteristics about Southwest Florida is not only golf and restaurants and beaches and entertainment, but incredible art," said Victoria Moreland, spokeswoman for the airport. " 'Dawn's Forest' is amazing, and we hope people enjoy it as a reflection of this area."
The work was commissioned by Georgia Pacific before it came here, and is owned by and now on loan to the airport from the Naples museum for two years, with an additional one-year option to renew.
The Art in Flight program began in 2010 and is a partnership between the Lee County Port Authority and the Lee County Alliance for the Arts, whose mission is to showcase the diversity of art, culture and community of Southwest Florida.
Other displays include "Turn, Turn, Turn: The Artistic Synthesis of Vinyl into Art,","Children of the Everglades" and "Remembrance of 9-11".