Posted: February 21, 2022
Last modified: February 21, 2022

At 18 feet high, “Blossom” is a giant – but graceful – work of outdoor art representing the flower of the orange tree, once the lifeblood of the local economy and the center of daily life in old Maitland.

While the days of citrus farming in Maitland are long gone, the tall, steel blossom, recently installed at Fennell Street and Keller Road, honors the past while building community spirit for the future.

“Blossom” is the vision of sculptors Jennifer Madden and Jeffrey Reed, a husband-and-wife team who were selected over 130 other entries. Together, they designed and built the piece, which includes informative plaques and places to sit beside the large petals.

“Hopefully, it will become a place that the community can gather, and you can walk your dog, or you can meet a neighbor, or you can meet a stranger,” Madden said. “That’s really the goal, that strangers have a place to meet.”

The large sculpture is the latest example of public art commissioned by the I-4 Ultimate Art Endowment Program. The $1.5 million initiative funds permanent art installations that highlight cities and counties along the I-4 Ultimate corridor.

Madden and her husband Reed, who are from Richmond, California, near San Francisco, have an impressive portfolio of public art. Their latest creation features pulsing lights and a rotating centerpiece within a circle of giant petals, all intended to evoke a sense of magic.

“The mystical, magical side leads to wonder, which leads to respect,” Reed said. “We lean towards telling a story and finding the beauty in a place and an identity.”

The sculpture captures a moment of transformation – that twinkling instant when germination changes a flower into fruit. It’s an apt display for an Orange County community that continues to evolve.

“I hope people will come away with a little more knowledge about the history of the orange in this area and Maitland,” Madden said. “And that they will feel a little more pride in their community for having, hopefully, a piece of art that they love, and they drive by every day.”