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Artworks go from muse to views

CLEARWATER — The four elements: earth, water, wind and fire.

We eat, drink, breathe and live them every day. But we do not often celebrate them when we are driving down a road.

Until now. North Carolina artist Hanna Jubran's sculpture In Harmony — Earth, Water, Wind, Fire was positioned on a median on Cleveland Street on Thursday, causing drivers to slow down and gape.

They look like four 6-foot-tall architectural wonders surrounded by real buildings to the north and south, only these are made of sanded stainless steel with spectacular bronze features on the top.

Jubran contemplated the work when he was flying and driving before he made a sketch and started to create it. It took him a couple of months from start to finish.

Here's an interview the Times held with the artist.

How did you become an artist?

I grew up in Jish, north of Jerusalem, population 1,200. I was the only kid involved in art. By age 17, I knew.

What inspired this piece?

We live on Earth, we deal with fire. ... We keep interacting with these elements on a daily basis. Each element carries the other elements with it. These elements are around us each day, but sometimes we don't notice it. This is my interpretation, this is a different way of looking at it.

How did you come up with the name In Harmony — Earth, Water, Wind, Fire?

These four elements are in harmony with each other. It's hard to think of one without the other.

How would you describe this piece of work to a child?

I don't think a child would have a problem with this. The innocence of a child ... they seem to get the point right away. What they see, they respond to. We adults try to have a bigger meaning than what it really is.

What is the nicest thing anyone has ever said about this piece? What is the worst?

I usually install it and leave (and don't hear the comments). There is always somebody that likes or dislikes my artwork. We have different tastes, different reactions to things. That's a very positive thing.

Do you think this piece will fit in well with the revitalized Cleveland Street?

It fits in well with these four spheres and compliments the architecture.

Have you ever been frustrated that people don't appreciate your work?

They will enjoy it for what it is. The idea is to create a connection. I can't just keep producing my art for myself. My responsibility is to interact with the public.

Claudia Jane Klein

Inspired by yoga, meditation

The city installed another piece of public art along downtown Cleveland Street on Thursday afternoon, this time Shanti, a mix of grayish circles, swirls and roots.

The 500-pound structure, on the median between Osceola and Fort Harrison avenues, took artist Claudia Jane Klein about a year to complete. It was displayed for a weekend in February at the Palm Beach International Biennale exhibit in Wellington.

The sculpture stands 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Klein says it's been appraised at $48,000, but it's for sale for $30,000, her usual asking price for her work.

The city is installing three pieces of public art this week under a project called "Sculpture 360: Art in the Cleveland Street District Outdoor Gallery," which is part of the Clearwater public art and design program.

Although the city has an arts ordinance requiring developers to set aside money for public art, the Sculpture 360 initiative was developed before it was in place. Instead, the $14,000 project was funded through a partnership with the Downtown Development Board and the Clearwater Downtown Partnership. No money from the city's general fund was used.

Here's an interview the Times held with the artist:

How did you become an artist?

I was born with the desire of wanting to do it. I've done sculptures my whole life, starting as a child with clay work. In my early 20s, I still did clay work and ceramics sculptures but then started experimenting with different materials because clay had its limitations. My focus since 1990 has been on metal sculptures. I studied different welding techniques and how to put different metals together. I've always done some form of my own creations. Prior to selling my sculptures, I made a living designing and manufacturing dresses . . . so that was kind of sculptural where I worked with colors and fabrics. I think artists don't really have much choice. There's this need to turn matter into something. For me, I use sculptures to convey different things that interest me, things I believe in, things I like to see in space. It's a necessity to get something outside myself that needs to get out.

What inspired this piece?

This particular piece is a group of sculptures all in relationship to sports, yoga and meditation. They are all different sculptural representations. Through sports, exercise, dance, yoga and meditation, people can alter their plane of existence physically, mentally and spiritually, further embellishing their lives with further accomplishments. Shanti is a piece of meditation . . . . It's balanced and under control. It's representational that meditation is necessary to balancing out our existence.

How did you come up with the name for this piece?

Shanti is the Hindi name for 'peace.' And in a lot of Hindu meditation chanting they end with 'shanti, shanti, shanti.'

How would you describe this piece of work to a child?

I probably wouldn't talk to the child about the concept, but basically talk about what it is. The circles that are connected to the tubing are the free form circles, and those generate a kind of energy. And if you look through the circles you can feel that energy. And if you follow the tubing you can see the things that intertwine in our life. If you look at the piece on the top you can see the legs and the arms and another ring in the center of the arms, and that is a point to a mental focus of meditation. The very small ring in the center is a focus of the mind.

What the nicest thing anyone has ever said about this piece? What's the worst?

The people who have seen it really like this piece. It's actually one of my strongest pieces yet. But it really hasn't gotten any negative response. The best thing people have said is that it has an invigorating sense about it. It's just powerful, unique … I've heard people say it does have a calming effect if you follow it through and not rush by it during the day.

Is there a meaning to this piece of work?

Yes. Through the power of individual relentless effort, focus and attention, peace and harmony can momentarily actualize, containing a calming and balancing endless cosmic diversity and total chaos. That's sort of how I look out in the world. I see cosmic diversity and chaos. That's why I encourage people to meditate and exercise.

Do you think this piece will fit in well with the revitalized Cleveland Street?

Yes, I thought it would because it's going to be close to the water and a lot of people come to areas by the water at the end of the day to regroup themselves. You feel peaceful by the water, it's part of nature, part of being happy. And I figured this type of piece would be somewhat representational to an area where you are drawing people where they are able to relax and enjoy the end of the day .

Have you ever been frustrated that people don't appreciate your work?

There's different things that appeal to different people. You cannot make one thing appeal to everyone or everyone would eat the same food with the same seasoning. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, so I don't feel discouraged if I don't have 100 percent. That's the variety of art. It's like music or food. Some people like rap music, some like opera.

>>About the artists

Hanna Jubran

Age: 55

Occupation: professor of sculpture at East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina.

Education: earned his master's degree in fine art from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Residence: Grimesland, N.C.

Family: wife Jodi, 44.

Art sold: a piece to Kingsport, Tenn., called The Four Elements for $37,000. Was a different piece with the same theme. Sold a bronze sculpture to General Electric called Together for $36,000.

Favorite artist: Isamu Noguchi.

Web site:

Claudia Jane Klein

Age: 59

Occupation: artist

Education: spent a year at Albert Lea College in Minnesota where she majored in art. Then, much of her education was through trade schools and apprenticeships.

Residence: Lake Worth.

Family: husband, George Piper, four cats

Is this for sale: Yes, for $30,000.

Art sold: Klein sold The Mermaid to the city of Lake Worth. She also has private clients in Chicago, New York and Pensacola.

Favorite artist: International sculptor/painter Frank Stella

Web site:

Artworks go from muse to views

07/10/08 [Last modified: Thursday, July 10, 2008 11:00pm]
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