Art and skateboarding will collide at Color Me Kona, the world’s largest coloring book party and collaboration with Kona Skatepark and the Jax Kid’s Mural Project. The event will be held from 10am to 5pm, November 18th, at the skate park, located at 8739 Kona Avenue.
The Color Me Kona event is a fundraiser for the Jax Kid’s Mural project, which serves Title 1 schools and children in underprivileged areas of the community. The event will feature a sidewalk chalk takeover of the park’s freestyle section, where participants can work alongside local and regional chalk artists, in addition to interactive mural painting for all ages.
Murals will be designed by street artists from Jacksonville, Orlando, and Miami including Christopher Clark, Suzanne Pickett, Nico, Halsi, Scotty Briggs, Van Eggers, Phillip Bennet Walker, Janessa Frias, Jasmine Aldershoff, Cent, Cassidy Ramos, Gilly, Dustin Harewood, Daniel Cotto, and Mobarick.
Other elements include a skateboarding contest, demos and clinic, tie-dye factory, vegan food village, balloon pool party, art installations, live music, and the unveiling of the new Snake Run mural by artist Halsi. Installation artists include Shannon Rose Greene, MadreGabs, Nico, Halsi, Parker Burrer, Bobby K, and Amanda Holloway with her students from James Weldon Johnson Middle School.
Entry is a monetary donation to the Jax Kid’s Mural Project or a minimum of two children’s books to be distributed to the kids involved with the non-profit organization.
“Through our partnership with PNC Arts Alive, which is our sponsor for this year’s Jax Kid’s Mural Project, we have learned of the need for support in literacy needed by the same underprivileged children that we work with through our mural project,” says artist and event founder Nicole Holderbaum, who works under the name Nico. “By simply providing children with their own books, we believe that they will have the opportunity to learn new words and develop their vocabulary. We also hope that this will give parents an opportunity to read with their children and converse with them to develop the bond between them.”
The connection between art and skateboarding is a natural cross-pollination of cultures. Art is infused into every aspect of skateboarding from board graphics, fashion, skateboarding style and music. Each form of self-expression is released in dramatic curves and clean lines. For a muralist and a skateboarder, the mission is finding beauty and purpose in empty places.
“Skateboarding is itself an art form. Each skateboarder is an individual with their own style and flare. Skateboarding is a form of self-expression and personal growth. I believe that through skateboarding, many individuals find their identities,” says Holderbaum. “I also believe that skateboarding, like art, has saved many at-risk children that might have otherwise gone down bad pathways. I have also heard stories of skateboarding saving individuals from crippling and unhealthy addictions. Skateboarding is one of the most beautiful things I have experienced in my life, and the way that it brings so many different people together is truly remarkable.”
For Holderbaum, it’s all about using her passions to make a difference in the lives of children in the Jacksonville community. An active skateboarder, she started going to Kona when she moved to Jacksonville to skate or just soak in the history. She struck up a friendship with Cassidy Ramos, one of the participating muralists whose family owns the park. “She and I are both artists and have a great connection. She mentioned to me that she was interested in doing something with the kid’s mural project at the park, and thus began the planning and preparation for possibly the biggest event that Kona has seen in the last decade,” says Holderbaum, who plans to continue her partnership with Kona as an artist and curator. “The integration of more art into the park is something that we are all very excited about. The 10 or so interactive murals that will be painted on the day of the event will all be painted on free-standing walls that we build and set up specifically for the day of the event.”
The Jax Kid’s Mural Project was founded in 2015 after Holderbaum was inspired to create an event that would expose kids to art, especially at-risk youth. “I met with artist Shaun Thurston a few years ago for inspiration and a bit of mentoring, and he encouraged me to do something that was bigger than myself, something impactful for our city,” she says. “I instantly thought of the youth.”
Holderbaum’s “Art for Jacksonville’s Youth and Beyond” concept was a finalist during the 2015 One Spark event, and though it didn’t win, it sparked the interest of a programming director with the Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department who invited her to create the kid’s murals for their summer program, “Summer Night Lights.”
“I want to bring this experience directly to those who needed it most. The goal was, and still is, to design and paint murals in specifically Title 1 schools with the students. Creativity and the arts are not supported enough through the Public School system, so many children who might excel in the arts don’t have a chance to realize that.”
“Through this program I had my first experience working with underprivileged children in an underprivileged part of our city, and my life was changed forever,” she says.
The One Spark project evolved into a Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville’s SPARK Grant recipient, “The Jax Kid’s Mural Festival,” which was held four times in 2016 in both Hemming Park and The Jacksonville Landing. The festivals, she says, were an amazing way to raise awareness for the project.
Plans to expand and develop programming to reach more children throughout Jacksonville include a youth summer art program in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Florida and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. Once the organization acquires the non-profit status, Holderbaum will assemble a board of directors comprised of likeminded creatives committed to reaching the city’s youth through community and artistic endeavors like the Color Me Kona project.
Through the Jax Kid’s Mural Project, she hopes to paint a mural in every school in Jacksonville and incorporate more student-painted murals. She also hopes to bring muralists and street artists from our community into the schools to paint professional and contemporary murals and interact with students.
“I want to bring this experience directly to those who needed it most. The goal was, and still is, to design and paint murals in specifically Title 1 schools with the students. Creativity and the arts are not supported enough through the Public School system, so many children who might excel in the arts don’t have a chance to realize that. Especially if they struggle in other areas, or are academically or behaviorally challenged, they might go through their whole lives thinking that they are not intelligent or not special, which leaves them sincerely insecure. Having the opportunity to see that they do excel in certain areas (art) develops that confidence that they need to be successful in life,” says Holderbaum.
“One thing that has stood out the most to me throughout this project is that the students who are most “academically challenged” or “behaviorally challenged” tend to be the most engaged and prolific painters when we are working on the design and production of our murals. They may struggle in the classroom, but when they get to the mural wall they absolutely thrive. This fact alone is motivation enough for me to continue this project.”