Art in Public Places

After Setbacks, Art in Public Places Program Announces Mural Project BY ADELAIDE COREY-DISCH

The Art in Public Places (APP) program is the outcome of an ordinance created in 1997 by Jacksonville’s City Council and Mayor, and is responsible for bringing numerous public art projects to the city during the program’s 15 years. Lately the APP has been off the radar, quietly building a dynamic committee while continuing to maintain and conserve Jacksonville’s existing public art. But by the end of the year the Art in Public Places program was back in the spotlight, announcing new projects. In December the APP held an event at MOCA to explain the Art in Public Places’s mission as well as its request for proposal process. This ‘APP Talk’ also served as a forum to outline the program’s exciting upcoming mural project, slated to be completed in April of this year.

Jacksonville’s 1997 Art in Public Places ordinance:
According to this ordinance, 0.75 percent of the cost of any project costing more than $100,000 is set aside by the city to spend on public art. Since 1997, the APP has implemented and overseen numerous public art projects throughout the city, notably the sculptures (‘Talking Continents’) in front of the Veterans Memorial Arena by acclaimed public artist Jaume Plensa. Plensa’s other public works have included large-scale sculptures in Millenium Park in Chicago as well as in Madison Square Gardens in New York. It is worth noting here that both Chicago and New York have successful ‘Percent for Art’ legislation similar to our own APP ordinance. If you are interested in learning more about Jacksonville’s public art and to see the full list, visit
Not on the event’s agenda was the program’s ongoing struggle – while the APP has made great strides (under the auspices of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville) to bring art into Jacksonville’s public domain, it also faces constant challenges. As with all funding for the arts in a rocky economic climate, the APP has the ever-present threat of budget-cuts. Local government funding of the arts has declined precipitously throughout the country in recent years, dropping by $169.5 million (-20 percent) between 2008 and 2011.

The Mural Project
Regardless of potential setbacks, the Art in Public Places program is now moving forward with their new mural project. The project, overseen by APP Board Members Ben Thompson (curator at MOCA) and Wesley Grissom (J. Johnson Gallery’s Associate Director), will commission a local artist to complete a permanent mural in downtown Jacksonville. Says Grissom, “Murals are a great way to beautify our urban core, as well as to further the mission of the Art in Public Places Program by fostering collaboration between local business, artists, and individuals.”
According to Holechek, the APP program manager, the first mural in the new Art in Public Places mural program will be completed by a Jacksonville artist and permanently installed on two 40’ stair towers located at each corner of the Yates public parking garage on Adams Street. Says Holechek, “The murals will symbolize to visitors and residents entering Downtown from the east that they’ve also entered the Spark Arts District, a designated area where heightened artistic activities will begin to be unveiled in the coming year in public spaces at the street level, accessible to everyone.”
With the addition of a new mural to downtown Jacksonville’s urban core, the continued success of a digital billboard art project, ‘The Highway Gallery’, and the recent recognition of Jacksonville International Airport as an art haven by both the London Observer and CNN, 2013 is shaping up to be a great year for public art here. To see the completed mural and to support continued public art initiatives by the APP in Jacksonville, be sure to come out for it’s unveiling, scheduled to coincide with the One Spark festival held April 17 -21.
For local artists who missed the December APP talk, more information on the mural project and directions to submit original work are located on the homepage of the Cultural Council’s website, The deadline for submissions is January 14, 2013 by 5 pm.