Aesop’s Tables

Aesop wrote a lot of fables. He was believed to have been a Greek slave and storyteller who lived between 620 and 564 BCE. They were mostly of the oral tradition and through the ages were transcribed and added to, so how many the original Aesop wrote is unclear. Among the earliest books in many languages, the stories told of political, social and religious tales meant to teach, preach and inspire in various ways.

This seemed like a grand way to include the Palm Beach County artistic community in a new art project. In conjunction with Mayor Muoio’s pledge declaring the City of West Palm Beach as a “City of Kindness”, 25 local nonprofits with be paired with 25 painted picnic tables that are part of an Art in Public Places initiative called Aesop’s Tables. The selected nonprofits will encourage supporters to promote their table across social media and throughout the summer.  Then, at the Clematis by Night Summer In Paradise finale on Thursday, August 31, the picnic tables will be auctioned off with proceeds benefiting the nonprofit partnered with each table.

“This fundraiser is a shining example of what this year’s Summer in Paradise is all about: Community. In addition to showcasing classic stories from Aesop’s Fables painted on picnic tables by talented local artists, this year’s art installation gives residents and visitors a unique way to learn about our many nonprofits and support worthwhile community initiatives,” shared Mary Pinak, Community Events Manager for the City of West Palm Beach.

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“I got the idea when I thought about how we should include the South Florida art community in our Summer in Paradise event. I passed by a park with picnic tables and realized that is a perfect way to bring people together over art, so let’s get 25 regional artists to paint some timeless tales of Aesop’s Fables on them. These classic stories have lessons on how to be good people and get along. At picnic tables there is always room for more people and sometimes people that don’t know each other sit together and become acquainted. There will be live painting of the tables from May 23 to the 25th, and then they will be on display all summer downtown starting June 1st. Non-Profit organizations will benefit when we auction off the tables.”

“We put out an artist call and got over 50 responses,” says Sybille Welter of Art in Public Places. “Some of the artists sent in full blown proposals while others submitted sketches of what the results will look like. Our selection committee looked for the fable to come across visually, to have a great narrative. Amazingly only 2 artists picked the same fable to portray. We narrowed it down to 20 artists who will live paint 25 tables over the course of a few days. All of them utilized the whole table, benches and all. It will be great fun for people to see the fable unfold on the tables artwork and hopefully kids can learn from it. All these bright tables on the lawn all summer will look great and be an interactive way for people to connect.”

Presented by the City of West Palm Beach Art in Public Places, Aesop’s Tables celebrate the talents of local artists and will feature painted picnic tables illustrating timeless fables, such as The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Tortoise and the Hare, and more.

One of the winning artists is Erick Marquez, a muralist and comic book artist that makes him perfect for the fable theme. His entry is called Double Dealing and is based on the story about when a Man met a Satyr in the forest and made friends with him. The two soon became the best of comrades, living together in the Man’s hut. But one cold winter evening, as they were walking homeward, the Satyr saw the Man blow on his fingers.

“Why do you do that?” asked the Satyr.
“To warm my hands,” the Man replied.
When they reached home the Man prepared two bowls of porridge. These he placed steaming hot on the table, and the comrades sat down to enjoy the meal. But much to the Satyr’s surprise, the Man began to blow into his bowl of porridge.
“Why do you do that?” he asked.
“To cool my porridge,” replied the Man.
The Satyr sprang hurriedly to his feet and made for the door.
“Goodbye,” he said, “I’ve seen enough. A fellow that blows hot and cold in the same breath cannot be friends with me!”

The illustration is done in two sides with blue tones for cool and warm orange for hot.
A graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, Marquez has done several projects for Bluewater comics, including cover and all interior art for the Conan O’Brien bio-comic. His professional experience began with an internship at DC Comics in New York City, before his graduation from the Kansas City Art Institute. As a professional freelance artist, he has also worked on William Shatner Presents: Man O’War and Vincent Price Presents: Road Rage.

“This was perfect for me,” Marquez says from his studio. “I’ve always loved illustration and created comic books and children’s books. The story is about hot and cold and balance of life. I’m looking forward to painting live as it’s not something I usually do, artists get comfortable in their studios, so this will be something very different for me.”

Another chosen artist is Erick’s partner in his studio and in life Fine Artist Mayling Pao who was born in Matagalpa, Nicaragua and raised in South Florida.

She attended the New World School of the Arts in Miam and received her BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, MO.

Prior to graduating KCAI, she began her professional illustration experience with an internship and later freelancing for the Kansas City Star newspaper. Over 20 of her color illustrations have been published in the newspaper. Her fine art has been exhibited in galleries and art festivals in Miami, West Palm Beach and Kansas City.

Currently, she is redirecting her focus on her fine art. When she is not painting or sculpting in her studio, she enjoys teaching art to inspire creativity in children and homeschooling her own little artists.

Her fable table illustrates the Tortoise and the Eagle, a cautionary tale about what happens when a tortoise wants to get a birds eye view with the help of a high flying eagle. It ends with smashing results for the poor tortoise.

The Aesop’s Tables live painting event will take place on the lawn downtown and is free to watch from May 23 to the 25th.

Aesop’s Tables
Eagle and Tortoise