By: Diane Feen Contributing Writer
There is art and there are artists – Sharon Koskoff is both. The muralist, teacher, author, preservationist, lecturer and artiste is one step away from the canvases and walls she embellishes.
While watching her teach (or spending time with her) you realize that Koskoff is a work of art herself. She inhabits the air around her as one visual masterpiece drawn in different directions of color – whether it be her persona or her artwork.
“As a professional artist, I am always ready to experiment, learn something new, discover ideas, collect art books, visit museums and collaborate with others. My life is about anything and everything to do with art! I eat, sleep and drink art,” said Koskoff, who just unveiled her newest book, Murals of the Palm Beaches.
The book is a colorful pictorial look at the murals in Palm Beach County with historical reference of each one. Unfortunately, some of the hand-painted larger-than-life murals are no longer at their birth place. As Koskoff says in her book, one coat of paint can negate the process of illustrious genius.
Therein lies the purpose of this inspirational gift to those who value what mother nature gave birth to, but artists laid claim to.
“I wrote “Murals of the Palm Beaches” as a legacy project to leave behind a visual history of public art in the Palm Beaches,” she said.
Many landmark murals have been demolished and my book catalogs their existence and answers the question,“How did we get here today?”
What most people don’t know is that in the past public murals were deemed unacceptable by county officials whose approval was necessary to paint them. Koskoff had to go against the grain to get her murals off the ground and against the wall. That’s the reason she worked so hard to preserve the legacy of these gargantuan colorful works of public art.
“In 1996 I discovered county-owned public schools who welcomed the group mural projects, thereby circumventing bureaucracy. I worked with teachers and classroom youth to paint interior and exterior school walls throughout the county.”
In a karmic way this was a blessing. According to Koskoff, school principals noticed that students flourished academically from educational mural environments. “As the economy soared and new construction developed, Palm Beach County public school consultant contracts were signed, and hundreds of school walls were adorned with colorful murals.”
Her Love’s Drug Mural, that went up in 1994 in Pineapple Grove, took 90 volunteers to create and was 67-feet wide and 14-feet high. This mural – and countless others – are in this magical book that will inspire readers to delve deeper into the historical significance and creative genius of its creators.
Koskoff is perhaps one of the most prolific mural artists in the county. She is relentless in filling empty spaces with beauty and includes children and adults to paint by her side. When asked about the importance of murals in public spaces she says, “It provides a sense of place and a legacy of art, history, and cultural significance for future generations.”
That is precisely what Koskoff’s life has been about. She inherited the Art Deco mantle from its originator Barbara Baer Capitman, who was an Art Deco savior (and provocateur) in Miami Beach in the 80’s.
Koskoff took that mantle and ran with it. She is the founding President of the Art Deco Society of the Palm Beaches and gives tours and lectures on anything related to Art Deco.
Koskoff was the keynote speaker at the Third Annual Art Deco Festival in France and won the Muse Award of Excellence in Arts Education (2014 to 2016) from the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County. She is also a frequent art educator at Old School Square, where you can learn the art of mix-media collage (and witness her brilliance).
Copeland Davis played a piano that Koskoff hand-painted for the Kretzer Piano Music Foundation. She also created the mosaic-tiled bases on the columns at the entrance to Pineapple Grove and collaborates with Osceola Park activists to organize Art in the Alley™ community art installations.
With so much on her plate – teaching, lecturing, painting and writing, why does Koskoff keep creating these colorful life-size murals? “I create large scale environments and murals that engage (and allow the viewer) to connect to art. Public art creates an open dialogue in the community, a sense of place and makes peoples’ lives better.”
Koskoff continues to enrich people’s lives through art and contributes to a higher collective art consciousness. She has accomplished perhaps more than the great artists of our time, yet when you meet her she is as down-to-earth as the toll booth taker at the turnpike.
To some she is the Art Deco lady, but to those who know her Koskoff is a true Delray treasure. You can see hear her speak, buy the book and see her artwork at upcoming OSS events.
Sept. 4-9 – Spotlight Gallery – Retrospective Murals by Sharon Koskoff
Sept. 5 – Art Talk – Premiere Book Signing of MOTPB
Sept. 7 – ArtWalk Spotlight Artist
Sept. 13 – Mix Master: Color Mixing Workshop
For information call – 561-243-7922 BySharon@ArtDecoPB.org