TOUCH Art Garden Opens To Cheers


Hundreds crowd into the garden while Flagler Student, Peyton Short reads the braille.

The T.O.U.C.H. Art Garden at the St Augustine Art Association opened with cheers and a campaign toast lead by St Augustine Beach Commissioner, Gary Snodgrass. After close to a year of renovations and upgrades the art garden is ready to include touchable outdoor sculptures from artist. “This is a project close to my heart,” said Elyse Brady, St Augustine Art Association Executive Director. “I see the impact the Tactile Art Show has on the blind students from the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind and we have expanded on that with this project.”


Mayor Shaver cuts the ribbon

The TOUCH-Tactile Orientation for Understanding Creativity and History- St Augustine Braille Trail, a 450th Legacy Project, includes two signature sculptures “Heavenly Bodies” a stone sculpture which represents the birth of a new world, created by Enzo Torcoletti and “Signal form the Shore,” which represents the interpretation of a Native American child cast in bronze by Richard Weaver. These two sculptures anchor the garden and welcome visitors to the art center as well as become a starting point for the St Augustine Braille Trail. With grant funds secured from the Community Foundation of NE Florida, a $50,000 matching funds award by Bill Mayer and Diane Bradley (StAAA president) in memory of her late parents, Bruce and Betty Bradley, as well as donations from community members, the garden is a highlight for the city and the art community.

Over 100 people crowded into the garden for the ribbon cutting. St Augustine Mayor, Nancy Shaver and St Augustine Art Association Board President, Dianne Bradley held the large red ribbon while Mayor Shaver expressed the importance of the Arts in a community. The ribbon was cut and everyone held their glasses high for the campaign toast. Braille Trail docent, Peyton Short, a senior at Flagler College, who is blind was on hand to read the newest braille panel and show the crowd the impact this project can have on those who are visually impaired. The crowd fell silent and listened as Peyton placed his fingers on the brass embossed braille and read the message on the panel.


Heavenly Bodies by Enzo Torcoletti and braille marker.

Along with the two signature sculptures in the art garden, five statues in the community were chosen for the Braille Trail. The five statues include: Ponce de Leon(bay-front), Henry Flagler (Flagler College), Pedro Menendez (Lightner Museum), Father Pedro Camps and the Minorcans (West Basilica Courtyard), St Augustine Foot Soldiers (Plaza).

The Braille Trail is an innovative way to expand the arts for all people, no matter their capacities, to experience art and history first hand. Not only is St Augustine the country’s first city, it is the first city in the country to include the blind by giving them access to the artistic statues in a unique and innovative way.

Those wishing to contribute to the TOUCH St Augustine Project visit or call the StAAA (904) 824-2310.