Thrilled to be in yet another happy group cruising up to Sidney’s in the capacity filled lift, I mashed the “R” button. The joyful gentleman spies the small tag magnetized to my blouse and quips, “Pretty name, Lilly, are you really a rebel?” Thank you, I said. Actually, Lilly is my surname. I laugh and tell him there’s a whole bunch of us Lillys back home in Kansas. Being born into a pack of brothers all older and bigger than I, left me little choice but to defend myself. In many ways I was destined to earn that name. Just then as our elevator car reached the rooftop I sang out to the wide-eyed captive crowd… Welcome to the top! Grab yourselves a few bevvies and shake your booties off. Laughter and clapping ensued, the doors opened, and lively dance music beckoned them onto the terrace deck. At that time, I didn’t share the fact that over fifty years ago with one swift undercut to my big brother Billy’s chin, I was forevermore teasingly called the rebel. I never much liked the numerous names the boys called me back in the day and I am eternally grateful some of those other choice words never stuck. And for the sake of transparency, I am equally guilty of tagging the boys with unsavories. I will kindly spare you the embarrassment those terms so readily brought on.
As I grow as a person, it has become easier to find the simple beauty in things. With that said, I will also say that I hadn’t always answered to this unexpected moniker. That is, until Billy died. Today it serves as an homage to him. I have come to love it. Sort of the same way I abandoned childhood fears of the sting and fell deeply in love with honey bees once I learned they feed the world.
We humans tend to put a whole lot of emotional stock into identities of persons, places, and things. Some people can become a bit obsessed over labels. Admittedly, I am one of those people. Our names are paramount to us from a very early age, which is why our ears are keenly tuned in to our own brand. Many of us adore our father’s name and bear them our entire lives. When Juliet said to Romeo, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet”, I was spellbound. William Shakespeare can be a conundrum for many readers, myself included. As Romeo was put to question, Shakespeare must have felt the tearing of one’s mind when he wrote of the consideration to reject his father’s name for the sake of another love.
Speaking of the love of a father’s name, Sidney’s did not acquire its designation in the way you might think. As a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, fundraising is a very necessary component in order to function. Therefore, certain areas of the building had been offered up as beautiful tokens of appreciation via naming commemorations. So when Pamela Templeton stepped up like the champion that she is and sponsored the rooftop, Sidney’s was born. Named after her father, this sky sculpture gallery became even more sacred than ever! If you ask me, the tender and sweet coincidence that his name is spelled the same as the late Sidney Davis seemed to be a nod of approval from the universe.
Opening delays had left many of us feeling as though we were being taunted by the construction that extended from weeks into years. Yet here we are, the long-anticipated opening of Sidney’s Rooftop Sculpture Garden & Reception Area has at once come to pass! Art lovers rejoice! This gorgeous rooftop ingredient had been part of the recipe in the design of SBDAC for quite a long time, from the beginning really. The sculpture garden has existed inside the creative mind of our C.E.O. Jim Griffith ever since the year two thousand and three. I like to say it has been in the making for XVIII years in Roman numerals just to exacerbate the ancientness of the timeline. For clarity’s sake, in no way do I claim that Jim shares in my humor or lack thereof. (Enter the Cheshire cat’s grin here.)
Safety for our visitors and staff was and is, Jim’s most present thought at all times. And it shows. There was no way to know back then exactly how much reinforcement this deserving building might need. His solution oriented determination became even more resolved each time the engineers or an inspector pointed out something that needed a change of plan. Funding for this rooftop dream space initially estimated out to be a hefty $350,000. But once the various phases of construction began, it was discovered that the basic physical systems required additional substructures so the new topload would be secure. Logistically speaking, the undertaking of an operation this size would intimidate most non-profits, but not Jim. He has maintained a steady and sure pace on this mission, coming out smart like a Bigbird [military slang]. All in all, this incredible project finished up with a cool, two million dollar price tag! Rest assured, this building and every imaginable foothold within is absolutely solid.
Sidney’s has been dubbed the crown jewel of the Fort Myers Downtown sector and for good reason! This versatile event setting is like no other as it is an intimate space where you may not only view the art, but also touch the art! Our vibrant people miss no opportunity to take the most ordinary things and make them extraordinary. Even the aluminum safety railing surrounding Sidney’s is a stunning work of art! Inspired by Voyager’s travels into interstellar space, Cosmik Debris is the brainchild of seasoned sculpturist Lawrence Voytek.
If you had not already heard, Independence Day 2021, we celebrated our first official 4th of July Rooftop Bash with a primo view of the fireworks and a live rock concert from Roxx Revolt & the Velvets! And now Sidney’s is also available for private rentals to celebrate your next birthday, team building office party, or even for your elegantly romantic rooftop wedding! Is yoga your thing? Come claim your spot for the sunset yoga class on the rooftop. Check out the specs at sbdac.com.
That thought leads me to mention some of the evocative sculptures in the garden. You are all invited to share in our bird’s eye view of the River District and take a walk through the sophisticated sculptures temporarily on loan from a few unbelievably talented Miami artists. These high-caliber pieces will most assuredly please the eye. Corten steel gently shapes artist Juan Miguel Vazquez’s piece titled Maternity, and his thalassic bronze works titled Infamous Trophy and Free Spirit will move even the coolest of hearts. Upon seeing them, I wept. There are several more thought provoking sculptures placed throughout the garden but I won’t lay my descriptions on them because I would like to hear how they strike each of you. Current plans are to change these sculptures out once a year so you should have plenty of opportunities to fall in love with each piece in the meantime.
It is my hope you will join our fun-loving community for Live Music Friday Nights as we celebrate the sharing of this phenomenal space atop the roof of the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center. Bring your friends. There will be dancing! Also brand new at Sidney’s, our friendly bar staff will be serving up Sidney’s signature cocktails for your sipping pleasure as you peruse the spectacularly colorful Paradise City mural, created by paint spray virtuosos Cesar Aguilera and Brian Weaver with Artsemble Underground LLC. When you have some time, Google these guys…you’re going to be impressed!
On a final note, there is still time to bestow a permanent display of esteem for someone you love. A few limited spaces are available for naming rights in and on the building, including the Leave a Legacy and Buy a Box programs.
Who’s name will you honor today?
~A lover of lesser used words, critters of every order, and coffee. She is the girl that prefers her flowers uncut, her sunshine unbroken by clouds, and her toes in the sand.
Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center
2301 First Street, Fort Myers Fl. 33901
•All statements made in this blog are my opinion and my thoughts alone. Statements on this blog and webpage are not to be taken as medical advice in any manner. I base my writings on my personal experiences and on my own inquiry. It is highly suggested readers complete their own research and consult a medical professional before implementing any guidance offered here.