A face familiar to many movie and television fans could be seen spotted Friday near the Manatee River standing close to her latest piece of off-screen art installed at the Bradenton Riverwalk.
In front of a crowd of people snapping pictures and hovering around a still-draped sculpture stood Jane Seymour, laughing and talking with Bradenton officials. The award-winning actress is known for her performances in the James Bond film “Live and Let Die,” “Wedding Crashers,” “Somewhere in Time,” as well as the American television series “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.”
On Friday morning, Seymour unveiled her Open Heart Icon bronze sculpture on the Bradenton Riverwalk near Veterans Monument Park. It is now one of 61 pieces of public art in Bradenton.
“There’s no doubt that showcasing arts and culture and heritage in the marketplace is a big part of our sustainability of visitation,” said Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Elliott Falcione. “With that, meeting Jane and being able to bring a world-renowned artist to the area and with the Open Hearts sculpture of added value, this was an opportunity we couldn’t let pass by.”
Her dream, Seymour said, was to have the design in public, so people could interact, touch, feel and identify with it.
The seven-foot sculpture ties in with Seymour’s “Open Hearts” philosophy, also exemplified in her jewelry line by the same name for Kay Jewelers and Jared the Galleria of Jewelry. The philosophy is also the heart of her philanthropic endeavor, the Open Hearts Foundation.
With two hearts connected and open at either end, it is designed to symbolize love without boundaries and remind people to live with their hearts open. The sculpture is a gift to the city of Bradenton from multiple organizations.
But the most important thing, Seymour said, is that it has become a universal symbol of giving and receiving love, including loving yourself.
The philosophy came from her mother, who survived being a prisoner of war for more than three years in a Japanese internment camp.
“She said, ‘Darling, in life, there will always be challenges,” Seymour said. “She said there is only one thing you can do. And that is to find some way to accept this, which is the hardest thing to do in the world. And to open your heart and reach out in some way to help someone else because there will always be someone worse off than you. And if you do that, you have purpose.”
She hopes the design will encourage people to go out of their comfort zone and help others for no reason other than they simply can.
During the unveiling ceremony Friday, two Manatee School for the Arts students — sixth grader Mason Hobbs, 11, and high school senior Tess McGirr, 18 — shared with the crowd how they live with open hearts of their own.
Hobbs said, for him, it is by encouraging people to help others, share happiness, and living like his brother; while for McGirr, it can be by extending her friendship to new students and being open to new experiences.
Seymour met Falcione at an art show in 2018 where she said he told her about Bradenton. Just 10 months later, her Open Heart Icon was unveiled on the Riverwalk.
Seymour said the “Friendly City” of Bradenton is living up to expectations in her first visit and she hopes to bring her family here one day.
“This will not be the last time I come to this city,” Seymour said.
A collection of nearly 50 pieces of Seymour’s art opened at The Studio at Gulf and Pine, 10101 Gulf Dr., Anna Maria, on Tuesday and will remain on display until Feb. 9.
Seymour will appear at the Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 Third Ave., Bradenton, at noon Saturday to discuss her artwork, answer questions and sign books. Tickets are available at tickets.manateeperformingartscenter.com.
“Jane is now part of the fabric of the Bradenton area. And now, you’re part of our family,” Falcione said to Seymour.