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Celebrating City Activist's Legacy

For more than a year, Miami artist Diana Contreras tried to capture the essence and spirit of a woman known for her flamboyant fashion, political poetry and arts activism in Pembroke Pines.

The end results are emblazoned on a bench near the lake at William B. Armstrong Dream Park, a green space advocated for by Terry T. Sherman, the late activist who used poems to persuade city commissioners.

"I love faces, so I had to do something there," Contreras said. "I wanted to make it a magical muse."

The center of the artwork, which was digitally scanned on vinyl to make it impermeable to weather, features the side profile of a woman in a large floppy hat bedecked in necklaces and bracelets and holding an ornate fan. Musical notes and balloons float around her head as silhouettes dance in the background.

"It's the perfect summation of who she was," said her son, Corey Sherman. "I can't imagine a more perfect tribute to her."

Jill Slaughter, the city's chief curator, designed the high-backed aluminum bench and commissioned Contreras to create the artwork.

"Her ability as an artist, her essence and spirit as a human being, is very much like Terry," Slaughter said of Contreras. "I felt that was a great tribute to Terry."

Sherman, who died of a stroke in 2013, was described by Mayor Frank Ortis as someone known for protesting against auto dealerships and restaurants, her presence at commission meetings and advocating for the arts and for children.

"She was very active in our city, getting young people to clean up the roadways and being influential in the arts and parks," Ortis said. "She was a dynamic woman."

A former newspaper and magazine columnist in New York, Sherman and husband Don had two sons. They moved to Pembroke Pines in the early 1990s.

"My mom never got involved with the community until she moved here," Corey Sherman said. "She liked the fact that it was growing fast. She had a vision. She thought it could be an oasis for others, as well."

The bench unveiling and dedication occurred before the Feb. 22 Jazz in the Pines concert, where her son read several of the poems his mom had shared at commission meetings.

"My mom was many things, but what she wanted most was to be a poet," he said. "My mom would have been so thrilled to see so many people here listening to music and enjoying fellowship."

Slaughter is planning to continue honoring Sherman's memory by hosting poetry readings, storytelling and singers at the bench. Interested artists should contact her at 954-450-6947.

Fallan Patterson can be reached at

Copyright © 2015, Sun Sentinel

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