Friends of the Crestview Library, Inc. commissioned painter Sandy Saltness Parks (and she prefers to be call a "painter" rather than an "artist" because the arts encompass such a diversity) to paint a mural for the Robert L. F. Sikes Public Library in November 2004. The mural spans three walls on the west end of the library ten feet above the floor over the periodical area window. It is 34 feet long, eight feet high and painted on thirty-four stretched canvases.
About the Assignment
The assignment was to incorporate into a mural the land, people, and industry that have influenced the history and development of Crestview. The land---the Shoal and Yellow Rivers, the Spanish Trail, the trees and hills... the "view from the crest." The people---from the Indians and the Spanish to the lumber and turpentine workers and military personnel of today. The industry---blueberries, turpentine, lumber, county seat government, and military.
In the Artist's Own Words---the Challenge...
"The painting is really a montage of several paintings held together by a landscape. Fourteen subjects needed to be incorporated into one. The artist's challenge is to lead the viewer's eye into and through a painting using color, line, shapes, and values to create a rhythm and flow to keep it interesting.
I wanted to show the Indians in a peaceful setting before European influence in their clothing and lifestyle. Archeologists state that local Indians were proficient at producing pottery as early as 1500 A.D. Native blueberries were to become an important product for the area, and, surely, they were enjoyed by the Indians. Surrounding the Indians with blueberry bushes and filling the bowl with blueberries incorporated two subjects.
The Spanish Trail from Mexico City to St. Augustine brought people and commerce to the land. The Spanish influence is not very apparent today, so I put them in the background leading the eye to the turpentine worker. The confluence of the two rivers, the Spanish Trail, and the railroad made a natural site for a city that was to become the county seat. Blueberry Express was the name of a locomotive known for its transportation of blueberries as well as lumber. Also depicted is the old County Courthouse.
What is in the future for Crestview? People will be the future of Crestview. And the military is an important part of the past, present and future; it is represented by the Thunderbirds and the American flag reflected in the water."
In the Artist's Own Words---Technique...
"I prefer painting wet on wet with oil using a filbert-shaped, long-handled brush in the traditional American realism style of John Singer Sargeant. The techniques have been handed down in atelier settings from artist to artist for generations, tracing back even before the 'painter's painter' Velasquez. He became an apprentice in 1620 in Seville.