Artist behind ‘Jax’ sculpture for One Park Jax says the artwork symbolizes the St. Johns River

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jax, Lerp, Derp, Lox and Love; you name it, it’s been seen in the stainless-steel sculpture.

The Landing site is in for a complete makeover and the talk of the town is the “Jax” sculpture that’s estimated to cost between 11-18 million dollars. The problem is, there’s a lot of confusion on what it says and what it means. Now there’s a petition to stop it from becoming a reality.

“You can call it whatever you want if you’re going to come and see it, take a selfie and go see one of the new restaurants or businesses that will be part of this park masterplan and spend money,” artist JEFRË said.

One Park Jax, designed by Perking & Will and artist JEFRË, recently won the design competition for the Landing site. The artist who created the sculpture tells Action News Jax it’s not supposed to spell out Jax, it’s about the St. Johns River.

“Water is a holder of memory so the idea the St. Johns River river means a lot of things to different people,” JEFRË said. “This is an opportunity about creating a piece of art that’s about you and the city.”

The icon is 151′ x 310′, which JEFRË says is symbolic to the length of the river in nautical miles and the history of Jacksonville. Now a petition with over 13,000 signatures has been created to stop it from moving forward.

“There’s a lot of people that are passionate about art whether you like it or not it’s creating a conversation for Jacksonville which is a success on its own,” JEFRË said.

Downtown Investment Authority sent Action News Jax the following statement, saying the design is conceptual, all will be refined and public consideration will be taken.

The One Park Jax park design won the competition, not exclusively the artwork, and the artwork could be modified or refined in the next phase. The Perkins&Will design that was selected is first and foremost an exciting, versatile, and inclusive destination park space. It boasts a large flexible central lawn that visually connects to the Terry Theater, a destination playground that is heavily shaded and elevated above the waterfront, a riverfront dining plaza in front of the new bike and pedestrian bridge ramp off Main Street Bridge cleverly using that infrastructure to form building space, and elevated “civic stairs” that become the platform for an iconic sculpture.

The Park design is sensitive to the views from the new Hogan Street Emerald Trail segment and contemplates that the future building on the corner of Hogan and Water Streets would be low profile with a rooftop bar/dining option and house the visitor center, park operations, and dining. The Laura Street view corridor is open and several possible options for riverfront engagement at the end of the corridor were included such as a splash pad plaza, flexible market space, or stairs down to the river in a newly created cove.

The design recommends that the private development pad adjacent to Main Street Bridge be developed as a mid to high rise building, parallel to the bridge preserving views from existing buildings, and including terrace level dining options. This mixed-use building would likely include a hotel which would derive the most value from proximity to the park, as well as residences or office uses. The potential disposition of the development pad to a private developer will follow established processes and is expected to be advertised in the fall.

The 50% park design and the proposed sculpture are conceptual and subject to refinement and modification as design progresses. We will be incorporating public feedback into that process. The presence of a large sculptural element, whatever form it takes, is a feature worthy of consideration and it was contemplated that private fundraising would cover a substantial portion of the cost of the art. Nevertheless, the park design is much more than just the sculpture and should be viewed in its entirety.

JEFRE said he is open to suggestions and that art is subjective.

“When we rotate it around and certain things evolve from it then that’s okay, maybe it goes from ‘derp to lerp’ I don’t know, it’s whatever you want it to say,” JEFRË said. “People need to remember it’s just a form of the St. Johns River and how its dynamic and your reflection within it.”

JEFRË tells Action News Jax there is much more to One Park Jax than just the sculpture and he’s hoping everyone will be able to appreciate what it will have to offer.

The design concept is estimated to cost the city over $20 million, the main art piece itself is estimated to cost between $11-$18 million.

When Perkins & Will was initially chosen, head of the DIA Lori Boyer told Action News Jax they’re hoping the art piece will be something they have a “significant private fundraising effort to help sponsor.”

A separate petition has been made to show support for the sculpture.