When discussing Commissioner Patty Sheehan, Bill Stevens, her aid, described her as a “multi-faceted person.”
“Her job is one piece, but there are many others— like her paintings, her pottery, her glass blowing, her gardening and her love of animals, just to name a few,” Stevens said.
While sitting down with her for a few minutes at a recent Orlando Pride match, we were able to discuss her passions for her art and for our City Beautiful. With a degree in art from the University of Central Florida, her goal has been to “redesign a city and make it pretty.” That has included cleaning up the city, preserving Lake Eola and even saving Constitution Green with a dog park. As an artist, she has painted a traffic control box in the Milk District, a storm drain in Thornton Park and helped the children of the Zebra Coalition paint a large rainbow mural.
After a few post-college years and a major personal disappointment, Sheehan stopped partying and began painting again.
“I discovered that I needed art to balance me,” Sheehan said.
The need to create became an important part of her life. She has shared her “Bad Kitty” in many Orlando venues. “One Kitty with Rainbow” was part of the 100-plus paintings that Sam Flax commissioned weeks after the Pulse night-club tragedy. That collection was hung in the Orange County Center and in the State Capital.
After the Pulse shooting, local “Paint the Trail” artist Jeff Sonksen drew out the 49 faces, and artist Colleen Ardaman invited the families, friends and survivors to come paint the portraits of their loved ones who perished.
Sheehan chose to paint the portrait of Luis Daniel Wilson.
“I chose him because I knew some of his family members and knew they would not be able to do it,” she said. “There were so many, and I never want to forget.”
Now, Sheehan has developed a new passion: working with glass. She has been studying this art at Atlantis Glass and hopes after the summer heat is gone that she can begin to blow glass.
“It is almost like a ballet,” Sheehan said. “You work closely with a partner, and, if you don’t pay attention, thermo shock occurs; then the piece shatters, and it is done.”
Her newest Kitty, “Psycho Calico,” is made of glass.
“Glass has a Mardi Gras feel of color,” Sheehan said.
Because of the three kilns involved in making glass art, Atlantis is closed during the hot summer months. Sheehan will probably return to the City of Orlando’s Pottery Studio off Paramore Avenue or paint many more “Bad Kitty” canvases. She may even be seen painting a wall somewhere.
“I never made the personal time for my art. Now I do,” Sheehan said. “It gives me joy and glee.”
A quick note about the Orlando Traveling Memorial portraits, like the one Sheehan painted of Wilson:
Although funding has not completed, the project in its entirety, the 49 portraits have traveled. This past winter, they were on display in two Chicago locations, and many families were able to paint their loved ones’ faces. www.orlandotravelingmemorial.com
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