A Good Heart Place by Nancy Goodheart Matthews

Below is a statement that Nancy Goodheart Matthews so graciously gifted us to use on this Downtown Sarasota Street Art Website on February 8th, 2023. She also included the photos above that show a behind the scenes peak on the crafting of this magnificent fountain.

To contact Nancy, or for future commissions, please email nancy.goodheart.matthews@gmail.com

“My name is Nancy Goodheart Matthews. For over 40 years I made and installed architectural ceramic carvings and mosaics in wonderful homes throughout the area and as far away as Majorca Spain.

In 1993 the City of Sarasota asked me to create all the carvings for a fountain in a new pocket park, including many images in the walkways and underwater in the fountain’s pools. For the past 30 years the name of the park has changed from Pineapple Park to Goodheart Plaza to Paul Thorpe Jr. Park but the artwork remains. The Smithsonian selected the fountain as one of its registered sites – a real honor! Located at 135 South Pineapple Avenue 34236, it is my only public work. In a city now surrounded by highrises, this little fountain remains on a very welcome human scale.

I was deeply influenced by the well-known Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung; particularly in his ground breaking work about the collective unconscious and his work on archetypes, timeless symbols which speak to us all for example in our dreams. In 1969 reading Man and His Symbols convinced me to trust the decision to make my life as an artist and I have found much joy in communicating these inner images with others.

For a public piece, I wanted the images to be engaging on different levels, to reach everyone from the very young on up to the very old: something of the heart, inclusive, never exclusive … speaking now to lovers, now to the wealthy, now to a homeless person.

The figures and narratives placed in the walkways might surprise a stressed out person, giving momentary pause from his nerves and allow entry into the beauty of his own imagination – relief from the pounding urgency of the rational world.

The fountain has a male side which is the “conscious” side showing the sun, the land, and the Tree of Life. Water flows from its fruit, speaking to abundance (nine fountains).

Then there is the female side; the “unconscious” aspect, with the symbols of the water, the moon, and the mermaid. Eleven energy orbs flow from her hands.

All these carvings are glazed ceramic, fired in hundreds of pieces. Being ceramic allows the work to last a very long time.

There is a compass rose underwater which orients the entire park to the earth.

Together the male and female images create a “whole” just as each of us has the anima ( or female) and animus (or male) aspect of the self. The female side is actually the southern gateway to the city, the mermaid’s arms position are in the welcoming gesture suggested by a tai chi master.

There are 30 addition fonts below the main carvings, 16 spiral tiles, and 14 carved panels of Florida animals (male side) and 3 muses and 4 sea creatures (female side).

You will discover many additional images, some underwater, in the various pools around the base and many narrative pieces placed underfoot in the walkways.

The work is intended to invite one into the imaginal realm, validating beauty, mystery, and possibility.

I hope you have your own direct experience of this as you explore the little park.”

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