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‘Children’s Art for The Holidays’ on display at Clay County Courthouse

By Kylie Cordell For Clay Today
Posted 11/22/22

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The fourth and final Art in the Courthouse installation was celebrated on Thursday, Nov. 17, during the gallery’s open house and reception. The unveiling featured a …

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‘Children’s Art for The Holidays’ on display at Clay County Courthouse


GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The fourth and final Art in the Courthouse installation was celebrated on Thursday, Nov. 17, during the gallery’s open house and reception. The unveiling featured a combination display of artwork provided by Clay County children from four programs: Augusta Savage Art & Cultural Center, Guardian Ad Litem, Quigley House and the Clay County Fair Art Contest.

The installation, showcasing students 3 to 18 years old, may be viewed between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on days the courthouse is open. The display will last until Jan. 3.

As part of the office’s annual community outreach efforts, Art In The Courthouse was founded in January of 2022 by Clay County Clerk of Court and Comptroller Tara Green and Public Outreach Manager Mary Justino. The idea for the project arose when Green was in her president-elect role in 2019. After doing “quite a bit of traveling to different clerks’ offices,” she noticed that, “whether it was in a county administration building or courthouse, they always had community type displays and events.”

The project, Green claims, not only enriches the community but creates a more welcoming, accessible place for visitors.

“The courthouse can be a very scary place. Normally, people are not coming here for great reasons, so we were trying to invite people to a public building, a beautiful building, and utilize this pretty area to display our artists,”she said.

The fourth-floor gallery has since featured various artists including the Orange Park Art Guild, First Coast Plein Air Painters and a compilation of Orange Park Woman’s Club and the Village Improvement Association.

“But Children’s Art for the Holidays is uniquely special because it is the only gallery to feature youth artwork,” Justino said.

Green and Justino received a wildly positive response for this year’s installation, receiving more than 80 works of artwork with more than 60 coming from the Augusta Savage Art and Cultural Center. The gallery features a range of works, including paintings, drawings and sculptures.

“They display here, we took it down beyond the wall and even in front of the window. Whatever came in, we were determined to have it displayed,” Justino said. “And it’s going to come back to the courthouse by popular demand next year.”

Green and Justino would like to see a rotating show, permanently designed for children to display their artwork. While currently working out the logistics, Justino said the community can expect to see the show running next year.

“We have identified an area of the second floor that is very close to where the family court takes place, so a lot of times it’s where children are coming in, not for good reasons, but what better place to have artwork that adds a little color to the walls, a little levity, maybe is comforting and inspires them,” Justino said. “That’s what we would consider Phase 2. We’ll be working on that in 2023.” Besides offering a welcoming atmosphere, Justino believes there are many benefits to having artwork in public spaces. “I wasn’t sure what the response would be until I saw it. It’s not only what you are seeing tonight. Folks are enjoying it because it’s the art community. But what I see during the regular business day is what really inspires me,” she said.

“I have seen our own employees come up here with their bagged lunches to look at the artwork on their lunch break. The attorneys come out of court and seem very preoccupied and busy but they stop when something catches their eye. You can see that it causes them to slow down, stop and think, and appreciate something other than the nitty-gritty of what’s going on in the courtroom. So that’s what really inspires us more than anything.”

“Kids are teaching us through what they are doing. As adults, sometimes we might even give up on looking into our own creativity and our own ability to create something, but when you see their artwork on the walls, you start to think, if that child can do that, maybe we need to dig a little deeper as adults and our creativity,” Justino said. “It teaches us that no matter your age you can create art. You can appreciate art. You can definitely have a place to display it, and I think there will be more and more venues in the future at other public buildings.”