Over five years ago, Susan Jablon was introduced to a Galveston, Texas organization called Artist Boat and their amazing Project SIT. An Island City on the Gulf Coast, Galveston is a fantastic vacation destination known for attractions such as Moody Gardens, Historic Pleasure Pier, Galveston Island State Park, and Stewart Beach and East Beach. Project SIT is a beautification program on Galvestonâ€™s Historic Seawall.
Although Galveston is filled with culture, beauty, and wildlife, sadly its location is one that has dealt with much environmental reckoning. Following the disastrous Great Storm in 1900, Galveston built its Seawall, which has since become a cultural landmark representing the cityâ€™s pride and resilience. Project SIT gives volunteers in the community the opportunity to leave a culturally significant legacy on the Seawall for many years to come.
Again devastated by Hurricane Ike in 2008, the team at Project SIT was determined to transform and beautify their community. The program set out to transform 70 concrete benches with educational mosaics providing an interpretation of Galveston Island, Galveston Bay, and the Gulf of Mexicoâ€™s coastal and ocean processes, natural resources, recreational opportunities, and coastal heritages. Therefore, each bench builds awareness and inspires action to conserve our natural resources.
When it came to selecting the designs that would go on each bench, a jury comprised of six arts and science professionals had to give their approval. Since 2011, all 70 benches have been sponsored. The artists were supported through private donations and Artist Boatâ€™s Eco-art Residency program. Collectively, students from KIPP Coastal Village, Satori School, Crenshaw Elementary, Yorkshire Academy, Jefferson, Dowling, and Lyons Elementary painted seventeen benches, while individual artists painted the remaining benches. Artist Boat raised over $270,000 to complete Project SIT, including large contributions from Reliant (an NRG Energy company), the City of Galveston, theFederal Transit Administration, the Galveston Island Park Board of Trustees, and the Harris CountyDepartment of Education. Smaller contributions from over 30 individuals, groups, and families came to nearly $100,000. Additional contributions included:
Ceramic Tile, Houston TX, supplies
United Tile, LaPorte TX, installed first 14 benches
Susan Jablon, Binghamton NY, tile and production of 50 mosaic wraps
Kitchen Chick, Galveston TX, Organized 4 annual Chicken Shank Strut events
Susan Jablon and our team of creative artists created 50 wraps depicting a sun setting among waves which were installed on the front, back, and sides of 50 of the 70 benches. The top of each bench is its very own brilliant educational artwork. We even got to experience the joy with members of the community about the benches. A teacher writes, â€œI wanted to thank you for a lovely event on Saturday. All the families and students that attended were just blown away by the beautiful bench. They were so pleased with the dedication to Captain Webster and they all commented how they now felt a strong connection to Galveston! Everything I hoped! We stayed at the beach for a while, and had a swim and as we were leaving, we saw three more families and students had arrived and were taking photographs of the bench.
â€œThanks for making it such a special and memorable event for my students and their families and for my family as well. It has been a wonderfully valuable educational experience from the student collaborative proposal, to understanding the process of public art installations, to the tile glazing, and most importantly the science.â€
We are so happy to be a part of this restoration and so happy to join forces with a community that is just as artistic, just as creative, and just as resilient as our company.