WEDU Arts Plus

S10 E8 | CLIP

1008: Myakka Fork

In this segment produced by students at St. Petersburg College in partnership with WEDU, Bradenton resident and fine art painter Jake Fernandez has spent years on a project that focuses on the beauty of the Myakka wilderness.

AIRED: April 15, 2021 | 0:06:24

Hello, I'm Dalia Colon and this is WEDU Arts Plus.

This first segment was produced by students

at St. Petersburg College in partnership with WEDU.

Bradenton resident and fine arts painter, Jake Fernandez,

has been featured in exhibitions around the country.

But it wasn't until he visited the Myakka wilderness

that he began to paint his masterpiece.

- The purpose of my art, it's hard to pin down

but I think that I like the idea of putting something

that gives you a window into a different form of reality

or experience.

My name is Jake Fernandez and I am an artist.

The Myakka Fork project

is one that could be classified as durational.

I'd moved back to Florida from New York City

and was incredibly taken by the nature.

The sheer intensity of the color.

The greens almost hurt my eyes.

- My name is Linda Chapman and I'm an artist.

I thought Jake Fernandez was the best artist I'd ever seen.

His work was very unusual

and we were undergraduates but he never followed the rules.

The Myakka Fork project has been going on for so many years.

I don't remember when it started.

He has thousands of photographs.

He visits a specific site very often

and has reported the changes in the environment

since his first photographs there in the 1980s.

- [Jake] So I did a lot of hiking and going around,

not looking for anything in particular.

And in one of my walks,

this particular place caught my attention.

And I decided to focus on that work.

And in my head I planed to do three large paintings

based on that place.

It differs from project to project

but the more complex projects start with an idea

and that idea comes from maybe just walking around

and my attention is grabbed by something I come across

and I start to investigate like a detective.

- The most interesting thing to me about Jake's artwork

is it has so many different levels of visual information.

It's abstract, it's real.

There are things that are imaginary.

It looks like a map.

It looks like a forest.

It's endlessly entertaining.

- The complexity of painting is something that I'm drawn to.

Something that I've worked for a long, long time

to try to take small steps into perfecting

and there is no end to it.

It's the kind of medium that offers immense possibilities

and opportunities.

You're involving the senses, you're involving a narrative

even in abstract paintings.

I'm not into, even though it's tempting to do,

you know depressing subject matter.

Many think that depressing, an angst written subject matter

makes your work heavy and important.

I disagree.

There's enough ugliness out there.

I don't need to be producing any more.

I remember I took my son to a location one time

to just sort of hold rulers and stuff that I had

because I was doing some calculations

and he was six years old.

He's now 32.

So to show you, and I'm two paintings down

and still working on the third Myakka painting.

- My name is Dixie Resnick

and I am the CEO of Crowley Museum and Nature Center.

I met Mr. Fernandez one day

when I was working in the welcome center

and he and a friend came in just to hike and look around.

And he introduced himself to me.

He was a very nice man.

My first thought on Jake Fernandez Myakka Fork pieces

were how interesting it was to see him represent

true old world Florida the way that he did

with its wildness, its imperfections.

All of that was encompassed in this artwork.

And so many people are unfamiliar with Myakka

that I just thought it was great that he saw it

and he decided to represent it

even though it might not be the typical popular views

of what Florida is.

- I don't set out to change the world

or deal in politics or commerce.

But I do believe that if somebody can walk away

seeing things in a slightly different way

because of what they experienced

then that's more than I need.

- For more information, visit