On Saturday, Nov. 18 the public is invited to attend the dedication of Cris Sandifer Easel at 5 p.m. at the Murray E. Nelson Government and Cultural Center in Key Largo.

Following the passing of Sandifer in January, members of the Art Guild of the Purple Isles decided to remember their friend in a special way. During its yearly Members Judged Art Show in the spring, the guild announced that it would raise money to create a sculpture of an artist’s easel in her memory. The easel will be usable workspace for plein air artists. It was also during the show that Sandifer’s son, Steven Sandifer, presented ribbons to winners on behalf of his mother.

Contributions came pouring in and it took no time to raise the $10,000 needed for Cris’ Easel Fund, said Janice Lee, publicity chair for the guild.

“In all that she did, she never failed to inspire others. For 30 years she loved, taught, served, created, painted and sailed her way through our lives and shared a part of herself with us. There was no doubt in my mind that there had to be a special tribute to Cris. One that would be a lasting reminder of her efforts to promote art for public enjoyment. The idea of the bronze artist‘s easel was born. I am humbled by the response to Cris’s Easel Fund; the enthusiasm and generosity has been overwhelming! In organizing this tribute I have discovered that it is because of friends and people like Cris that good things happen in the Keys.”

Creators Dwayne and Cindy King, of Old Road Gallery, say the idea behind the piece is a “lone easel waiting for an artist to return.”

“All the pieces were tools and paints, left the way an artist would leave them, waiting for the next painting,” said. Dwayne

The easel adornments include a  rag, palette knife, brushes, a lizard climbing up the stand to ‘see what’s happening next,’ and a little bird Cindy hand sculpted.

The solid bronze easel stands at more than 5 feet high, and will been given a green patina finish to extend its life against the salty Keys air.

Next to the easel, a boulder with a plaque will read, “We invite you to reflect on what a beautiful difference one single life has made to both the ARTS and SAILING communities of the Florida Keys.”

County Public Works Department also gave a hand in the sculpture’s creation, engineering its cement base.

Having served as president of the Art Guild of the Purple Isles, started the Connection Project, and chaired the Florida Keys Council of the Arts, Sandifer was a big proponent of art in public places. Sandifer also taught painting at Ocean Reef’s Art League and was commodore of the Upper Keys Sailing Club.

Sandifer has a series of six paintings on display at Murray E Nelson Government and Cultural Center as part of its public art collection. Local administrators, including County Commissioner Sylvia Murphy, are expected.


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