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‘Wings’ artist gets county deal: Contract calls for videos and five more angel-wings murals

Flying high — Erica Group poses outside the offices of the West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority on West New York Avenue in DeLand.

Flying high — Erica Group poses outside the offices of the West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority on West New York Avenue in DeLand.

BEACON PHOTO/ERIKA WEBB

Since the DeLand Wings on a downtown alley wall first started a flap in 2014, Erica Group’s life has been like a very busy fairy tale.

Group, the artist who painted the Wings, was recently named artist-in-residence for the West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority. The assignment makes Group the face and voice of two about-town video series: “What’s Happening in West Volusia” and “Wings of the West.”

“What’s Happening” will highlight what to do, where to stay and where to eat in the area. Filming started Aug. 8 at Blue Spring State Park and Alling House Bed & Breakfast in Orange City, as well as BakeChop in DeLand.

The three- to five-minute segments will be aired on www.visitwestvolusia.com and www.visitflorida.com, Facebook and Twitter — ”all of the usual suspects,” according to the ad authority’s executive director, Georgia Turner.

The hope is that the segments will be shared on featured attractions’ websites and social-media pages, and reshared from there, Turner said.

“Wings of the West” will document Group painting five more sets of angel wings, like the ones featured in her now internationally famous interactive mural on the Conrad Building, in the alleyway behind the shops in the first block of South Woodland Boulevard.

Locations for the new wings have not been nailed down.

“We’re in the process of negotiating with various attractions where the wings might be,” Turner said. “We know that wherever they go, they’re going to be very popular.”

Several months ago, Group was contacted by Turner and officials with Benedict Advertising. They offered the one-year artist-in-residence contract with Volusia County, which administers the advertising authority’s funds, originated from lodging taxes paid by tourists.

“The answer was an obvious yes,” Group said, grinning broadly.

She is more enthusiastic than nervous about filming, but there is some trepidation.

“It’s a little bit intimidating,” Group said.

But, since thousands of people have been photographed in front of the original wings, which spawned a line of T-shirts, posters, coffee mugs and other memorabilia, as well as a surge of tourism, Group has been interviewed numerous times for print and broadcast media reports.

That exposure and her comfort level with videographer Jordan Kahn set Group more at ease.

Her role is designed to integrate her into each featured locale.

“I keep saying I’m not going to be a talking head,” Group said, laughing. “It will be natural.”

A part-time manager of SoNY Market in Downtown DeLand, Group sells some of her artwork there, including custom-furniture designs that incorporate hexagons and honeycombs.

Through Erica Group Designs, the artist creates logos, wedding invitations, signage and, recently, illustrations for a children’s book.

And she’s preparing for her own wedding in January.

“My plate is full,” Group said, not the least bit unhappily.

The two video series are only the beginning.

Turner said more projects for Group are in the works.

“We’re extremely excited about having Erica be what we’re calling ‘artist-in-residence,’” she said. “Erica is a very talented artist, and she’s already, in a way, put DeLand on the map with the wings she’s already done.”

- Erika Webb, erika@beacononlinenews.com

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