FLORENCE, S.C. – The Lorax has come to downtown Florence.
A sculpture of Dr. Seuss’s character by artist Leo Rijn has been installed in the Andrew H. Griffin Plaza, a splash pad next to Wholly Smokin’ on South Dargan Street.
The Lorax is the titular character in a Seuss work published in 1971.
The Seuss work depicts an industrialist who happens upon a collection of trees. The industrialist uses the trees to make a product. The Lorax “speaks for the trees” and attempts to warn the industrialist twice about the effects of using the trees and the effects the use of the trees has upon the forest and the animals within. The industrialist winds up poor and alone because he uses all the trees without planting more. He eventually offers a tree seed to his grandson and tells the grandson to protect the trees from logging to bring the Lorax and his friends back.
The city built the pad to give parents the ability to take their children downtown for lunch and then have the children play in the fountain or for parents to visit the Florence County Museum and then take their children to play at the fountain. The pad was named after Florence City Manager Drew Griffin at the May meeting of the city council. It was opened on June 7. The splash pad is operative daily from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Downtown development director Ray Reich said the piece had been purchased from an artist with an exclusive license to make sculptures from Dr. Seuss’s works.
The Lorax is one of three pieces of artwork installed in downtown Florence.
The first artwork to be installed was a mural depicting Florence native Houston Person.
Person, who also attended what’s now South Carolina State University, is a saxophonist and record producer who has been a part of the creation of over 100 albums.
The mural was installed around a month ago, Reich said. He said the piece was commissioned last year during the South Carolina Pecan Festival.
A more recently installed artwork is sculpture depicting a young man and woman attempting to lasso a crescent moon by Giacinto Bosco. The piece is called " Luna Caprese grande."
The crescent moon is on the South Carolina state flag.
The piece and its artist are from Italy, Reich said.
Reich said the pieces were being installed as a part of the city’s public art initiative. He said the city had held off on acquiring artworks while the streetscape of downtown was being improved.
The artwork is approved by an art committee that looks at whether the piece is appropriate and how much the piece costs.
Reich hinted that additional work could be on its way to downtown. He said the city was going to issue a request for proposals later this year and local artists are welcome to call the downtown development office and sign up to be on the list to receive the materials.
The phone number of the downtown development office is 843-665-2047.
Reich said the artworks had been paid for using a portion of the Sunday alcohol sales tax revenue and contributions from local businesses and others.
The city approved Sunday alcohol sales in 2008.