GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The corner of North Orange Avenue and Palmer Street in Green Cove Springs bears a beautiful tribute to the military and first responders of the city that everyone can see as …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The corner of North Orange Avenue and Palmer Street in Green Cove Springs bears a beautiful tribute to the military and first responders of the city that everyone can see as they drive southward.
The mural features a huge American flag, which covers about one half of the building’s side. On the flag is a cloud with wings spreading from the top of it, out to either side – into the Stars on the left and the stripes on the right. Standing on top of the clouds are the three people forever memorialized by the city.
On the left is Clay Fire Rescue Engineer and Paramedic Jeremy J. McKay, who died in 2019 after battling cancer. In the middle is U.S. Army Ranger Sgt. Bradley Crose, who died while fighting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. And the third person is Clay County Sheriff’s Office Dep. Benjamin Zirbel, who was killed on duty in a 2019 motorcycle accident.
Sophie “Dare” Dentiste was the leading artist on the project. She has been doing wall mural art since the 1990s. In conjunction with local charity St. Michael’s Soldiers and the Art Guild of Orange Park, she worked during an approximately five-week period from November to December of 2019 to complete the mural. Others involved were Lynette Woodman, Lori Butler, Kim Hinkle, Alison McCauley, Andrea Sibilla, Kathy Plante and Beth Hazlip.
“I wanted to do a wall with wings,” Dentiste said of the design’s origins. “I had some ideas in my head, so we came up with that together. They loved the wings too…so I created a design for them; several different options, and that’s just the one that they chose.”
For a smaller city such as Green Cove Springs, projects like this mean a lot.
“Very significant and meaningful,” Dentiste said. “Because of the impact on the community and other artists participating. As well, once we got into it, we thought it was going to be a memorial to first responders, but then we found out it was a memorial to three specific fallen officers in Clay County and their families.”
“I think it’s a great addition to the city of Green Cove Springs,” said Tiffanie Kelly, Communications Coordinator for the City of Green Cove Springs. “Through this mural program, we are trying to find ways to liven up downtown. We think that this is a great collaboration between artists and the city of Green Cove Springs. It’s a great way for artists to show their passion for the city and in the case of this particular mural of the men and women who work to keep our country and this city safe.”
The mural is the second Dentiste has done in Green Cove Springs, the first being the Flora and Fauna, located just across the street.