Cape Coral Art Center announced the start of its Rubicond Park Master Plan and the June Bennett Pathway to Creativity project, expected to be completed by the end of September.
The park will feature a paver pathway and patio, sculpture pads, benches, interactive features, lighting and more than 30 native and ornamental plants. The construction will encompass 8,878 square feet of the 94,448-square-foot Rubicond Park. The art center within the park has more than 15,000 square feet of studios, galleries, a supply store, a gift shop and administrative offices.
“One of the driving forces for this project is to have an inspirational area with plants and flowers where students can walk around before, during or after art class,” said Kaitlyn Pearson, public information specialist for Cape Coral.
Art instructors and students often print pictures of flowers to use as a reference, she said. The improvements highlighted in the master plan are expected to bring that source of creative influence directly into Rubicond Park.
The park’s master plan has been underway since June 2021, when the art center received an anonymous donation for the project to recognize June Bennett, one of its dedicated instructors and volunteers.
The June Bennett Pathway to Creativity is in the northwest quadrant of the park. Patrons will be able to walk the trail to move in-between buildings as a short but scenic route, Pearson said.
Bennett, originally from England and a 30-year glass artist, began teaching glass fusing at the art center in 2004. Before becoming an instructor, she attended classes at the art center and workshops in New York, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Venezuela.
“She plays a vital role in the art center’s Volunteer Gallery Committee and helps hang the artwork for every exhibit,” Pearson said. “She also volunteers for the art center’s hospitality needs, including every art reception, gives on-site tours and assists with events.”
The art center opened in 1977 and played an integral role in the neighborhood and the Cape Coral community. With work starting in the park, the art center has a collective vision that will impact the future of the neighborhood and community in more ways than one.
The project is intended to create new spaces or renovate existing spaces into sustainable, state-of-the-art facilities that enhance Cape Coral’s reputation for vibrant arts, culture, education and innovation.
The 35 plants expected to be part of the park will allow the art center to complete part of its vision of cultivating a landscape designed for pollinators with minimal maintenance and maximum beauty. Some of the plants include dune sunflowers, swamp milkweed, coral honeysuckle and pink hibiscus.
The project also fits into the art center’s vision of creating grounds identifying the art center as a landmark by observers, while also encouraging new connections within the community.
Art increases cultural opportunities for residents and visitors and enhances the city’s visual landscape, Pearson said.
“Since the art center opened, the classes and programs there have taught and produced more artists and art appreciation,” she said. “Summer camps held there each year impact future generations by inspiring them to pursue a career in visual arts. The arts spur tourism, generate government revenue and create jobs.”
The art center, and many other local organizations, are participating in the Arts & Economic Prosperity Study 6 with Americans for the Arts. This is a national study that occurs every five years, demonstrating that an investment in the arts provides both cultural and economic benefits.