Artists, merchants and property owners in Atlantic Beach can add a little color to the city and give it a new sense of place. A public art grant is available to encourage businesses along the commercial strip leading to Naval Station Mayport to incorporate their own vision and help redefine the sagging Mayport corridor.
Word Revolt Art Gallery located on Mayport Road is the first recipient of the city’s public art grant program adopted last year. Owners Theresa and Todd Rykaczewski will lead installation of a new outdoor mural on the south facing wall of The Shoppes of A1A North with a painting party Nov. 3 (www.wordrevolt.com).
With bright, beachy colors and images, the mural will encourage community pride and help establish a sense of identity for the residents and merchants. The public is invited to participate in the Mayport Mural Painting Party held from 2-5:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3 at Word Revolt Art Gallery, 1249 Mayport Road.
“The first mural was such a success in the community that when grant money became available through the city of Atlantic Beach, the property owners thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to expand our design for the Mayport Road Mural onto a second wall,” according to the husband and wife team.
“Every time a new mural is born into a city, there is an increased excitement for the surrounding businesses and patrons. The first mural completely transformed the Shoppes of A1A North and brought in crowds of people that normally would not have stopped so that they could take photos of their friends, families and custom cars in front of the mural and visit local businesses. Just like the first mural, this project will bring the community together to celebrate being local and a unique opportunity to be part of the change they want to see.”
To create the mural’s geometric design, the mural will be divided into six colors. Participants will be assigned to a team, color, time and their artist will guide them through the process. The couple has experience with multiple large-scale projects from portraits, giant windmill sculptures and theatrical backdrops as well as multiple murals. They have plans to unveil three new murals throughout Jacksonville.
“The community has to pull together through a common pride that their city is worth celebrating. Once the community knows it is worth celebrating, public art is the pinnacle way of showing others that pride,” says the World Revolt team. “Also, public art adds a layer of culture and opens the door for others to express their unique crafts such as locally owned restaurants, shops and breweries that all help boost the city’s economy and create a more exciting place to live and visit.”
The new mural will feature elements like bright colors, the sun and waves that reflect living in a coastal community. City officials are hoping it inspires other businesses to participate in the city’s grant program.
“This is a way for the city to partner with them and provide funds to help them beautify their business fronts and hopefully promotes business. We are going to involve the community in the actual painting of the mural so it’s very exciting,” says Atlantic Beach Mayor Ellen Glasser. “We have some people that are very interested in public art along that corridor. People like [Todd and Theresa], they are really driving this. We’re just hoping that it’s contagious.”
The Mayport Road Public Art Program was developed to encourage economic development along the Mayport Road Corridor for properties located within the area designated in the Façade Improvement Area. Funding opportunities are available for the installation of public art that strengthens the image of the commercial corridor, increases the utilization of existing buildings, boosts economic vitality and improves property values.
According to Glasser, the diverse population of Mayport Road is the perfect canvas to encourage public art. Large scale public art installation can define and, in this case, redefine an area. Applicants are eligible for up to 75 percent of the total cost with a maximum award of $7,500. The grant program is open to property owners, artists and non-profit organizations in the area.
“Art is a subjective thing. We want people to feel good, and sort of slow down while they’re driving through and just enjoy it. We’re not buying up public properties to change them. We want the community to partner with us so … when you drive through that little strip of Atlantic Beach to say ‘okay, this place has an identity. It’s got a story’. That’s our goal,” she says.
“It really speaks to who we already are. Mayport Road has sort of an eclectic feel so it’s not going to look like some kind of planned community. Many different types of people coexist here. As we’ve been focusing on the Mayport corridor, it’s sort of a great way to tell that story.”