By Lucy Lazarony
Aesop’s Tables, hand-painted picnic tables on Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach, are set to be auctioned off Aug. 31 in support of more than two dozen local charities.
The live auction starts at 7:30 p.m. and is part of Clematis by Night from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The 6-foot tables, which support 25 different local charities and depict characters from the fables of the ancient Greek writer Aesop, have been on display in the waterfront park just east of the Centennial Square Fountain since June 1.
Mary Pinak, community events manager for the city of West Palm Beach Department of Parks and Recreation, wanted to create a community art event with the focus of bringing people together, after a year in which the city has been the site of so many protests.
Visitors to the area are encouraged to sit on the picnic tables and share a meal.
“They have a clear coat on them so they’re good to go,” Pinak says.
And the tables have become a gathering place for local residents as well.
“We want people to sit down and share meals with people they know and people they meet on-site. We want to encourage interactivity, absolutely,” Pinak says. “Simply sit down and eat together, because we all need to eat.”
The tables are the site of a number of local events such as Trivia Night on Wednesday evenings.
“They’re mostly being used in the evenings because it’s pretty hot” during the day, Pinak says.
And underneath all that community gathering is some pretty spectacular art, bright and bold and welcoming. Each picnic table is distinct, reflecting a local contemporary artist’s visual interpretation of a story with a moral dating back to the 5th century B.C.
“They’re so vibrant and so colorful and so unique, just like all of us,” Pinak says. “And when they all come together it’s one lovely project.”
West Palm Beach artist Anthony Burks Sr. created tables depicting “The Lion and the Mouse,” whose moral is “A kindness is never wasted,” for the American Cancer Society, and “The Rooster and the Jewel” for Habitat for Humanity.
In “The Rooster and the Jewel,” a hungry rooster in search of food discovers a jewel instead. The moral is “What is treasure to one may be worthless to another.”
Burks, a fine artist who enjoys painting animals, felt right at home with the project.
“I love painting animals, so this is perfect for me,” Burks says.
Loxahatchee artist Frank Navarette also felt right at home painting the subject of the fable “The Dog and The Shadow.”
“I own six dogs and four dogs are rescue,” says Navarette, whose table will be auctioned off for the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League.
Navarette, who has a background in graphic design and magazine illustration, describes his art as “very sharp and bold, mostly Pop Art.”
Kaitlyn Seyler, event and marketing coordinator for the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League, said the league felt a special kinship with Navarette because of his love of animals. The nonprofit is thrilled with Navarette’s art for Aesop’s Tables.
“It’s nice to have somebody believe in our mission as much as we do,” Seyler says. “And our table’s adorable. I’m completely blown away. Everyone who sees it can’t believe how adorable it is. Everybody loves it.”
Other local artists contributing to Aesop’s Tables include Sharon Halupka White, Patricia Maldonado, Missy Pierce, Erick Marquez, Sharon Koskoff, Steve Brouse, Tiffany Beasi, Craig McInnis, Peggie “Batia” Lowenberg, Mayling Marquez, Agata Ren, Nicole Gallucio, Sylvain Copon, Holly Rutchey, Candice Carpentieri, Jason Fleurant and Karla Smith.
In addition to Habitat for Humanity, American Cancer Society and Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League, the following charities will benefit from the Aesop’s Tables live auction on Aug. 31:
Adopt-A-Family of the Palm Beaches Inc.
Children Seen and Heard
Cultural Council of Palm Beach County
Dress for Success Palm Beaches
Gulfstream Goodwill Industries
Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Palm Beach County
Legal Aid of Palm Beach County Inc.
Life’s Changes Palm Beach County Inc.
Meals on Wheels of the Palm Beaches
Pathfinders Scholarship Fund
Sister Cities of Delray Beach, Inc.
Susan G. Komen South Florida
The Arc of Palm Beach County
The Take Heed Theater Company Inc.
United Way of Palm Beach County
Urban Youth Impact.
For more information on the Aesop’s Table auction, please visit www.wpb.org/events or call (561) 822-1515.