Although Sarasota National Cemetery has been open for several years, Patriot Plaza with a 2,800 seat amphitheater and art installations within the cemetery, was just finished and dedicated this summer. This is the first time a private foundation has partnered with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. The Patterson Foundation, based in Sarasota, funded the entire project. (I've read the construction cost was $12 million, plus there's an endowment for maintenance.) James Patterson, whose father started the New York Daily News (and James eventually went on to manage it) was a photographer in World War II. So, it was decided early on that the artwork would focus on photos. I must admit that when I originally heard that, I wasn't sure how they could pull it off, particularly with the pieces exposed to the elements 24-7.
Well, I stopped by the plaza yesterday and was really impressed with the final products. A total of 28 white marble tablets and plinths line the entrance to the amphitheater. 16 of the tablets are engraved with glass printed photos, including this one, which is completely backlit by the setting sun. The featured photos span from the Civil War to present day and each one is eye catching and memorable. But, I kept going back to this one. I was even in my car ready to leave and saw the golden light of the setting sun streaming through it -- and ended up getting out and taking a few more pics. I definitely will have to make a return trip when I have more time.