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Call Out for Local Artists to Enhance "Welcome to Immokalee" Signs

For more than 20 years, two “Welcome to Immokalee” signs have been fixtures in the small Collier County town. One is placed leading into the downtown area on First Street and Eustis Avenue, the other is on the corner of State Road 29 and New Market Road.

The signs feature a lake surrounded by lush green landscape and prominently display a cornucopia—these images are thought to pay homage to the community’s agricultural roots.

A recent effort to revamp the signs has received some negative feedback from the Immokalee community.

As the “Welcome to Immokalee” sign for First Street was almost finished this past May, members of the community began speaking out against it.

It featured an abstract Bird of Paradise instead of the rolling hills and cornucopia residents were accustomed to seeing for more than two decades.

Christie Betancourt of the Immokalee Community Redevelopment Agency said people felt the new design didn’t accurately reflect the community and its history.

“So when we got the comments back is when we were really like ‘ok, we got it wrong, let’s see if we can fix it without redoing the whole thing’,” Betancourt said. “We listened to the community, and this is why we’re modifying it.”

The Collier County Redevelopment Agency is now partnering with the United Arts Council of Collier to create a call-out for local artists to submit proposals to redesign the recently revamped sign.

Collier CRA director, Debra Forester, said members of the public will get to choose from submissions approved by the Immokalee Beautification Municipal Service Taxing Unit.

Immokalee CRA
A rendering of the sign on First Street and Eustis Ave in Immokalee

“The community will have an opportunity to vote on the top three proposals that are reviewed and provided to the MTSU to consider,” Forester said.

Artists are encouraged to get creative with their proposals.

"It could be a mural, it could be a sculpture, it could be a mosaic that reflects Immokalee," Forester said.

The winning design will be incorporated onto the sign on First Street and Eustis Avenue and will be modified to be used on the State Road 29 and New Market Road sign.

To submit a proposal for the "Welcome to Immokalee" signs redesign project, artists need to be at least 18 years old and a resident of either Collier or Lee Counties with ties to the community.

"We do think it's important that the folks that do participate have a connection and understands Immokalee when they would be part of this selection," Forester said.

Proposals can be submitted online until Friday, Aug. 28.

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Andrea Perdomo is a reporter for WGCU News. She started her career in public radio as an intern for the Miami-based NPR station, WLRN. Andrea graduated from Florida International University, where she was a contributing writer for the student-run newspaper, The Panther Press, and was also a member of the university's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.