The Love of Mankind: Touring the Art of The Edyth

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Since opening its doors in June, the new headquarters of the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation has welcomed nonprofits and the community at large. Known as “The Edyth,” the 17,000-square-foot building, located at 199 S. Knowles Ave., features numerous meeting spaces, work areas, and inspiring architectural designs. But another element provides a visual representation of the foundation’s mission and a connection to a local tradition.

The Art of Philanthropy is the collected winners of the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation Purchase Award, presented since 2013 at the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival. The current collection will reach a total of 10 on Saturday, March 18, when the awards program is presented at this year’s festival.

“The criteria is that the art represents philanthropy in its traditional definition: the love of mankind,” said Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation President and CEO David Odahowski. “That is a universal definition. It’s something that people can comprehend, but the work does not have to include the human form.”

The foundation works with festival judges in the selection process, which involves choosing several pieces and bringing them a location away from the festival where they are compared and discussed by judges and members of the foundation board. A single piece is then chosen and on the last day of the festival is brought into storage and later placed on exhibit. This will be the first year that judges can see the exhibit area and the existing collection before the festival.

“The judges will get to see the kind of work that was chosen in the past and how it will be displayed,” said Odahowski. “Our other building wasn’t really set up for that; it can help them in making their decision.”

The collection is exhibited throughout The Edyth, but displayed on movable pedestals or hanging rods to allow event staff to easily move each piece as necessary. “The interior of our building is meant to be welcoming and comfortable, and naturally the art plays a part in creating that atmosphere,” said Odahowski.


Blanket Weaver: National Geographic photographer Greg Davis took this photo while documenting the Hmong people of Vietnam. The dye-covered hands of a woman who had been coloring fabric are shown in uplifting motion. “This can symbolize the intent of philanthropy, which is to lift others up by opening our hands and hearts,” said Odahowski.


Meditation: Sculptor Steve Olszewski created this nearly six-foot-tall clay statue, fired in the Raku technique. The figure is portrayed in a serine and blissful state while presenting a gift.


For the Benefit of All Sentient Beings: Photographer Marius Moore captured rows of prayer flags in Tibet. The flags represent the hopes of the people who placed them. The purpose of philanthropy is to give others the means of realizing their hopes.


Sacred Promise: The figures, by sculptor Katherine Mathisen, are shown in a caring and intimate posture. “The body language, together with the title of the work, imply that love is at the heart of the promise,” said Odahowski.


Roots: Carolyn A. Cohen’s depiction of a tree and its root systems depict how plants take from, and give back to, the earth. According to Odahowski, the late Harvey Massey, who was on the board of the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation, saw a connection between the art and the book “The Giving Tree,” in which a tree finds happiness in the act of giving. The piece also has an aesthetic connection to the foundation logo: a leaf.


Long After I’m Gone: The photograph, by Heidi Thamert, seems to depict the promise of one generation to the next. The photographer also has an affinity for photographing hands, which have their own connection to giving and philanthropy.


Joyous Detour: Amy Lennard Gmelin’s sculpture of a fountain and a chalice can represent the overflow or sharing of blessings. The piece was chosen by the way it embodies compassion and a sense of caring and nourishing.


Sharing Bowl (Maple Bowl): The collection skips a year, due to the cancellation of the 2020 festival due to COVID-19. Sharing Bowl was carved by woodworker Mark Gardner out of a piece of wood from a fallen maple tree. The bowl represents an abundance of nature to be shared. The idea of sharing and the gift of the fallen tree represents philanthropy and is another tie-in to “The Giving Tree.”


Under Lock and Key: Artist David Vigo used cut sheet metal and found objects to create this piece that can be seen as a literal representation of giving from the heart.

The 64th Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival takes place in downtown Winter Park, March 17-19. For more information on The Edyth and the foundation, go to

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