Sculptor, Don Reynolds was the Bloom & Grow Garden Society’s first and only choice to bring our Monarch to life as a public art piece. He was recommended by member, Katy Moss Warner, who, for 24 years was Director of Horticulture and Environmental Initiatives at the Walt Disney World Resort. She and her staff were responsible for creating the EPCOT International Flower and Garden festival in 1994. Katy met Don when he designed the poster for that very first show. Artists were asked to use one of the gardens in EPCOT as their inspiration.
The gorgeous pastel rendering of the Canadian garden he created has become a collector’s item.
During subsequent shows, Don was one of the artists who were asked to create their art so visitors in the gardens of EPCOT could watch and ask questions to the artist about their craft. Katy remembers Don being extremely versatile in any medium he chose to use. In 2000, he designed and carved a large teak totem depicting the life cycle of the monarch butterfly which was displayed temporarily in a newly created butterfly garden at the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival. It was permanently installed at Callaway Gardens in Georgia in the garden outside the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center.
Central Florida is home to quite a few of Don’s works. On the University of Central Florida’s campus alone, there’s four. The Charging Knight sculpture was unveiled in 2007 and resides in front of the main entrance to Spectrum Stadium. There are also statues of founding president, Charles Millican and former football coach, George O’Leary. Plus, there’s a bronze bas-relief portrait of the second president, Trevor Colbourn.
Reynolds, a Navy veteran who served on the USS Yorktown, was commissioned to sculpt a statue of the “Blue Jacket Recruit”, to highlight the woman’s position of leadership in the United States Navy and to commemorate the importance of the first co-ed boot camp at the Navy base in Orlando. The statue can be viewed at Blue Jacket Park in Orlando.
As son of a master sergeant in the USAF, Don traveled in the U.S. and abroad with his family and would document each stop with drawings. After his stint in the Navy, he graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a BSE degree. He gained initial recognition as a freelance watercolor painter and received a four-year National Endowment Grant as Artist in Residence for the Little Rock Public School district.
Moving to Central Florida in 1978, Don began public art commissions with his first project, Gertrude’s Walk, in downtown Orlando. It was the beginning of many murals and sculptures in the Central Florida area. Don’s public and private work has graced the walls and lobbies of corporate offices, university campuses, theme parks, estate homes here and abroad.
One of his murals was on the outside wall of the Winter Garden Heritage Museum in the late 1990s. The colorful depiction was a nod to the citrus industry in Winter Garden. It portrayed men working, and one tossing an orange to a boy riding by on a vintage bike. The centerpiece is a superimposed bunch of oranges with leaves and blossoms.
Don is a true artist and sees art in all things. “I love all media, thinking, drawing, painting, sculpture; it all works in unison as a force for communications.
In public places, I like to reflect the general attitudes or perception of a particular area. Privately, my work expresses the feelings and appreciation of my clients and myself. You must please yourself first, however, in order to do great work!"
As a testament to his skill, Don, who is a sailor at heart, hand crafted his 36 foot sailboat, Ppalu. In 1999, he and his wife, Lynn, sailed it to the Mediterranean to carve the beautiful white Carrara marble in Pietrasanta, Italy. While Don finds carving marble is the most challenging and rewarding, he enjoys working with all mediums; bronze, wood, steel, concrete, watercolor, oil, acrylic. or “whatever the project demands.”
With this sculpture, Don has captured the essence of the Monarch’s qualities of strength and determination along with its ethereal beauty and lightness of being. He, then, angled it up toward the sky, ready to begin its newest journey into the hearts of all those who come to see it.