The last few blogs seem to all be about murals. There’s a few reasons for this. First of all, there are a lot of great murals going up all around Jacksonville! Another reason is they are a perfect way to explore, experience and discover beautiful art when museums and galleries are closed during a pandemic. They’re free to look at. You can meet and interact with the artists. You can even watch the transformation from blank wall to colorful masterpiece. It’s an amazing art form that has the ability to completely transform a city’s image and lift the spirits of a neighborhood.
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to check out three new mural that were in various degrees of creation. First stop was 1255 N. Main Street in the Springfield neighborhood where Nicole Holderbaum was out in force with a group of 12 women artists who are now known as #TheCosmicCrystals. This mural is the second, all-female mural in Jax and has a cosmic and somewhat mystical theme. When I first arrived on the scene, they were just getting started and the wall was being painted a solid purple background. I’m amazed at the progress pictures I’ve been following on social media and can’t wait to see the final project!
The next stop was a visit to the corner of Park and Talbot in the Avondale area. After getting a tip from my friend Ron Rothberg, I headed over to see what was happening. Ron and his wife Christina live in the beautiful house on the corner, surrounded by a long white fence. Being very community minded and social people, they had thought about doing some kind of design on the blank fence that sits in such a central place in the historic neighborhood. So, when Corey Kreisel, a Douglas Anderson grad and friend of Ron and Christina’s son, approached them about putting a mural on the fence they immediately agreed.
When I arrived on Saturday afternoon, the six artists, Jamie Shoemaker, Emma Flaire, Hanna Hadzic, Ramses Allen, Maaseal Outley and Kreisel were working away. Cans of paint of every color imaginable were open and being used. The white, wood canvas was the backdrop to several different scenes. All depicting something about strength, surviving and moving forward – appropriately themed during this time in history. “The mural is a visual poem about uncertainty, courage, and perseverance,” said Kreisel. “It tells a story of positive transformation through adversity and nods to the neighborhood's perseverance as Avondale celebrates its 100 year anniversary. We hope to put something positive into the community and create uplifting beauty in a time of stagnation.”
During the 15 minutes or so that I was there, several neighbors walked by to see what was happening. Families on bikes rode over to check it out and cars slowed as they passed by.
Above, are a few pictures from my visit. Again, I can’t wait to go back and see the final project!
The team will be bringing the mural to life with augmented reality. The AR component will be part of a community treasure hunt project they’re doing with the FIGMENT nonprofit (@FIGMENTjax on instagram). The treasure hunt will have interactive clues that guide you on an adventure through Avondale and end at an immersive art installation.
Corey started the Jacksonville chapter of Figment Art, a non-profit whose mission is to offer free, family-friendly and participatory art to entire communities. In April, he applied augmented reality to the Shaun Thurston mural in Five Points, creating a scavenger hunt activity. A perfect creative social distancing activity!
The third mural was done by Jacksonville’s favorite mosaic duo, Kate and Kenny Rouh. You have seen their whimsical additions all over town - under bridges, in restaurants, cruise terminals, downtown parks and more. Now they have put their mark, in the form of a lovely butterfly, on the corner of Conscious House at 1638 East 8th Street.
The Rouh’s love Conscious House’s mission of meeting the day to day needs of those who struggle in the area. They wanted to give back and again, help lift the spirits of the community around that difficult area. The result it simply lovely. Beautiful and inspiring.
The mural will be continued on the other side of the house, in the form of a painting, by another artist. The vines will be completed to represent how our lives are woven together and the continual need and importance for community to share life’s burdens, together.