Dancing with Sea Lions
The Dancing With Sea Lions project began as a fundraiser for the 20th Anniversary of the Florence Events Center. The volunteers of the Florence Arts, Culture, and Entertainment nonprofit group (previously known as the Friends of the FEC) headed up this project in conjunction with the Florence Events Center Staff. Twenty life size sea lion sculptures were each painted by a different artist. All of them were displayed with their sponsors along the Oregon Coast till October of 2016, when they were then purchased by businesses and individuals. Fifteen of them are still publicly displayed in Florence and near by coastal locations. See our 'Where are they now' map for their current locations, and check our blog for updates. Share your Dancing Sea Lion pics with us and we'll add them to our Gallery of images.
Project Name: Heceta Takes Flight
Larson's inspiration for 'Heceta Takes Flight' is her favorite lighthouse on the Oregon Coast, a Florence icon and the most photographed lighthouse in the world, Heceta Head Lighthouse, viewed beautifully from Sea Lion Caves. The gorgeous life size sea lion form provided for the project looks so fluid and graceful, it caused her to think of how sea lions move through water like birds through air. This thought inspired her to turn the top of her sea lion into a giant flying seagull, with Heceta Lighthouse on its back, thus the name 'Heceta Takes Flight'.
Originally, Larson planned to feature only Heceta Head Lighthouse on her sea lion. But when she was told that her lion would be displayed in Newport for the first six months of its life, and was asked to add the two Newport lighthouses to her design for that reason, she decided to go one step further and add ALL the lighthouses on the Oregon Coast, which are each painted on the sides and back. The two Newport lighthouses are painted larger and more centrally located, with the others radiating out from the center above and below, according to their location on the Oregon coast and proximity to Florence.
Larson has had a strong connection to Florence and the Oregon coast since 1964 when her family moved to Eugene and then purchased forest property up the North Fork of the Siuslaw River near Florence a couple years later. In 1968 her family immigrated to Canada, where her father accepted a Professorship at the University of Alberta. But even though Larson grew up in Canada, her family spent every summer camping up the North Fork from Florence, and she moved back to the USA in 1979. She has lived in Florence as a permanent resident since 2003.
Works of multi-award winning Abstract-Conceptual artist, Julie Larson (MFA), can be found in the permanent collections of several museums. It’s rare for Larson to work in a more traditional media. In fact, her Dancing With Sea Lions project, 'Heceta Takes Flight', is the first traditional painting she has done in over twenty years, and one of the first times she has ever worked with acrylic paints. For this reason, painting her sea lion proved a real challenge for her and a very painstaking learning process. There were many times when she asked herself whether or not she was in over her head, so she considers completion of her sea lion one of the hardest won accomplishments of her life and is very proud of the finished project.
Other than her work as an artist, Larson spent several years working as a Gallery Director and curator for a non-profit contemporary art exhibition space, and has taught credit art classes. She also organized the first national art show/competition for the Florence Events Center, titled 'State of the Arts, '98', which was displayed in FEC's Gallery One during the summer of 1998 and included original art from artists around the country. Among other endeavors, she now owns and manages an internationally active free website for short story lovers around the world, with contributing writers from more than 120 countries (storystar.com). Recently she has taken on the job of volunteer website manager for this site, and has added a 'Gallery' with many additional photographs of the sea lions in their debut roles, sponsor locations, and new homes, and will continue to keep the site up to date as much as it is possible to do. Please feel free to submit your own photographs of the sea lions for her to add to the Dancing With Sea Lions gallery: email@example.com