Jackson Walker’s “They Called it La Florida”

October 8-24, 2013

Polk Museum of Art is proud to participate in the statewide celebration of Florida’s 500th anniversary. Beginning October 8, a painting by noted Florida history artist Jackson Walker will be exhibited at Polk Museum of Art. They Called it La Florida is Walker’s rendition of Ponce de Leon’s first landing in Florida on April 2, 1513. The painting will remain on display to the public until it travels to Florida Southern College for Walker’s participation in the college’s Florida Lecture Series on October 24. Preceding his appearance at FSC, Walker will meet with students at Polk Museum of Art to discuss his works as they relate to Florida’s history.

For more than a year, Walker researched, sketched and painted this detailed 3- by 5-foot oil-on-canvas work commemorating Juan Ponce de Leon’s discovery of the coast of Florida. The explorer had convinced the King of Spain he would find the island of Bimini north and west of the islands already discovered in the Caribbean. The expedition left Puerto Rico and on April 2 sighted a shoreline. A landing party of heavily armored men (and dogs) boarded boats and headed for shore. They claimed the seemingly uninhabited land for Spain and named it “La Florida,” not only for the Catholic observance of the “Feast of Flowers” but for the beautiful landscape they saw from shore.

Polk Museum of Art is honored to participate in this celebration of Florida’s initial founding. We acknowledge and thank Dr. Sarah McKay, the Florida House on Capitol Hill and the Juan Ponce de Leon Society for allowing us to be a part of this important commemoration.