In art the hand can never execute anything
higher than the heart can inspire. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


Seminole Wekiva Trail

Jeff Sonksen worked for 12 years as an independent carpenter before the calls for work simply stopped. Unable to see the signs of the recession that crippled his livelihood, Sonksen took out his frustration on a fence.

Thinking he'd get a rise out of someone, the 45-year-old painted an airbrush portrait of his parents and hung it up on their home's section of the fence facing the Seminole-Wekiva Trail between Dixon Road and East Williamson Road. To his surprise, there was no protest, and his mother kept asking him to hang more paintings on the trail.

Sonksen creates the portraits in his garage, about a mile from his parents' home. Using a projector hooked up to a computer, he shines an image of a subject onto a set of fence slats, then shades in the areas where he'll later paint. He tries to keep expenses down by buying wooden slats in bulk, and he uses discarded paint he finds at a waste transfer station in Longwood. After adding a clear-coat enamel to protect the portraits, the brightly colored works are fastened with screws to the existing fence. In addition to the portrait, each painting includes a quote.

After more than a year of hanging movie characters' portraits on the fence, Sonksen struggles to keep up with the hundreds of requests from the community. Doubling as a pop culture mural, the fence along the 14-mile trail has more than 130 works of art from Sonksen. Following an outpouring of support from the community, on May 14 the Board of Commissioners awarded him with the Seminole County 2013 Artist of the Year Award for having contributed time and talent for the enrichment of the county.

Not one to hog the trail's miles of canvas to himself, he's allowing the community to be as much a part of the trail as he is by creating template panels, which he sends home with local painters so they can see their favorite celebrity. Once artists have finished their work, they can either hold on to them or return them to Sonksen to put up on the trail.

With the community's help, Sonksen has set the goal to paint the trail from the beginning to the end of the 5-mile stretch from State Road 434 to Lake Mary Boulevard.

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Fence and Wall Art - Gallery One - End Fence and Wall Art - Index