JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — You may have seen the lifts from the Arlington Expressway, busy lifting up artists who are breathing life into an old shopping center through their art.
Eight artists in total are working on #thewallatcollegepark mural which will showcase the diversity of Arlington and Jacksonville.
The entire mural will spell out Arlington.
“We are really excited about the mural project as the first facet of our redevelopment of the now college park shopping center," Alexander Sifakis said.
Sifakis works for JWB Real Estate Companies which commissioned the project along with Prime Realty.
"We renamed it from the old Town and Country and we’re really looking at it as a catalytic development and redevelopment from Arlington,” he said.
The final N was started Feb. 24, by Steven Teller. He hopes his floral themed mural piece will give commuters something to smile about. "This area is a little bit drab and there's been construction on the highway for awhile. So getting to bring in some color and beauty," is important says Teller. "Public art in general I think is really important for the community always because for the people who haven't seen that kind of thing before it opens you up to visions of what's possible.
Tatiana Kitchen, one of the artists, hopes that her vision will inspire people.
“My mural is of my friend," she said. "Her name is Candace. I admire her because she definitely I feel like goes for her dreams, goes for her goals, and she gets there no matter what.”
Kitchen hopes the strength of her painting will help other black women "do more in their in their lives, to be more passionate to show their passion to the world."
For some of these artists, like Chris Clark, this is the biggest project of their careers so far. Clark is in charge of the letter R.
“I came up with the idea to have a kid at the barbershop getting his hair cut in the shape of the letter R,” he said.
This is an inspiration from his own youth.
“You know the barbershop is almost like going to therapy, you talk about sports, talk about life,” Clark said.
Nicole Holderbaum brought all these artists together.
“My mural is a portrait of Ebony Payne English," she said. "She is a professional writer and poet that lives and works here in Jacksonville. She invests a lot of time in the youth as do I. We kind of share a passion in that.”
The two have even worked on other projects in the past such as the Kid Mural Project.
“Not only is Ebony an amazing individual artist that has impacted our city a lot but she has given so much of herself back to the youth of the city which is something that will really impact our future,” Holderbaum said.
Ansley Randall loves color and as a graphic artist has a passion for "funky shapes and mid-century patterns." Randall's dream, "was always to paint patterns, large scale on a wall.”
“Public art is an amazing way to inspire, bring people together,” Sifakis said.
Holderbaum is excited for the completion of the project which is set for mid-March.
“The College Park Plaza is going to evolve into something really amazing for Arlington and all of Jacksonville and I hope that this mural is a great catalyst for that," she said.
Randall Just hopes the bright colors bring joy to people that pass by. “That’s what we need in the city to like grow it and encourage each other.”
Kitchen choked up when she was asked about what inspired her; fear she said. As someone with a disability, she never thought she would be coming this far, painting a mural for thousands to see.
Her message to others?
“There is absolutely nothing stopping you from doing what you want to do, except your own mind, which you can always overcome," Kitchen said.
Artists involved in the project are Nicole “Nico” Holderbaum, Anthony Rooney, Elena Ohlander, Ansley Randall, Christopher Clark, Martin Torres “Tilin”, Tatiana Kitchen and Steven Teller.