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Nearly a Decade Later, “Azul’s Flight Tour” Still Stands Proud Around Campus

Guelchers+early+design+plans+for+the+graduation-themed+Azul+now+located+in+the+Margaret+S.+Sugden+Welcome+Center.
Scott Guelcher
Guelcher’s early design plans for the graduation-themed Azul now located in the Margaret S. Sugden Welcome Center.

Nine years ago, FGCU students and Southwest Florida residents had the opportunity to leave their mark on the university by participating in a design contest. The artwork produced by the winners of this contest still stand and are seen by students, faculty and staff daily. 

In December 2014, Student Government made the decision to commission six statues of Azul the eagle comprising “Azul’s Flight Tour.” This contest encouraged students, graduates and local supporters of FGCU to submit their designs for the 6 foot tall, 150 pound statues made from fiberglass. The chosen artists also won a $1,000 prize each. 

On Feb. 27, 2015, five artists were chosen to design the Azul statues. These artists were given the blank fiberglass statues and a completion deadline of March 2015. 

Scott Guelcher is an FGCU graduate who designed two of the six statues. One was a baseball-themed Azul for FGCU’s baseball team.  

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“As a huge baseball fan and following the career of Alumni Chris Sale, I wanted to do a ‘baseball Azul,’” Guelcher said. “At the time I was using a style in which I used different shades of colors and textures in paintings and wanted that to be prevalent in the artwork as well to give it a different feel.” 

Guelcher’s early design plans for the baseball-themed Azul now located in Alico Arena. (Scott Guelcher)

He used a medium he called “Monster Mud” to make the statue’s clothes.  

“This is a combination of joint compound and latex paint,” Guelcher said. “You dip fabric or anything else in it and it becomes hard. I put fabric, cardboard, wood, a baseball bat, baseball glove and shoelaces all in the mixture and then added the paint.” 

This statue is located to the right of the lobby in Alico Arena in front of the staircase. 

“I’m proud to tell anyone who goes to the arena to check it out. In February of 2017, Ken Kavanaugh set up a meeting with Chris Sale and myself at the Alico Arena to see the statue. This was right before his first spring training in Fort Myers with the Boston Red Sox,” he said. “The only unfortunate thing about this statue in the public place it is in is over the years the bat has been broken off and stolen.” 

The other statue he designed is a graduation-focused Azul. Guelcher said that he used the same “Monster Mud” to form the clothes of this statue. 

“I put fabric, cardboard, wood, shoelaces and other materials to make the cap, gown and cords. Then it was painted. I also added other materials to the top of the cap,” He said. 

This Azul is located in the Margaret S. Sugden Welcome Center which is located off of the main campus. 

“It’s amazing, it has been in the Welcome Center welcoming future, current and past students every day for over eight years now! I really hope it is still there doing it for many more,” he said. “I feel it encompasses everything about Azul and his place at the university. I just moved to Louisville, Kentucky in July and, of course, before I left I stopped by the welcome center at the end of June to say goodbye to him.” 

Andrew Corke is another FGCU alumni with a bachelor’s degree in art. He chose to make a statue out of recycled materials that included bicycle tires and candy wrappers. This statue is located by the Starbucks on the first floor of the FGCU library. 

Diana Rochez is an FGCU graduate who was a junior when completing her statue. She chose to create a basketball-themed Azul.  

“The idea came from the FGCU basketball team. In 2013 they made it to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA and afterward, basketball had always been the sport that represented FGCU,” Rochez said. “I’ll always be a fan of the basketball team.” 

Rochez’s medium for this statue was acrylic paint. This statue is located on the left side of the arena entrance in Alico Arena in front of the stairs.

“I’m currently a resident at Cleveland Clinic and it’s amazing to know the statue is still displayed. It’s been about eight years now and it’s amazing,” he said.  

Geoffrey Stephens is an FGCU graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He chose to make his Azul statue out of a mosaic of photos from FGCU. This statue is in the Cohen Student Union under the main staircase. 

Colleen Solomon is a supporter of FGCU. She chose to design an armored version of Azul with green and blue colors. This Azul is on the first floor in Marieb Hall in the main lobby. 

These statues were revealed on April 14, 2015, at the Veterans Pavilion. Former Vice President of Student Affairs J. Michael Rollo and former FGCU Student Body Vice President Cory Mentzer hosted this presentation.  

“I bleed blue and green and would not be who I am without FGCU. What a better way to leave a legacy than to have my artwork be the first thing most people see when coming to the university,” Guelcher said.

Scott Guelcher (left) in front of the baseball-themed Azul in Alico Arena with FGCU Alumni and Boston Red Sox Pitcher Chris Sale (right). (Courtesy of Scott Guelcher)

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Duran Bush, Eagle Radio Station Manager
Duran Bush is a junior majoring in digital media design with a minor in journalism. He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and has lived all over the country because of his father's job in radio. Duran graduated from Florida SouthWestern State College with an Associate in the Arts degree in Communication and a certificate in Audio Visual Technology. His goal is to be in the entertainment industry doing freelance work for different companies. His hobbies include watching classic films, TV shows, and reading comic books.

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