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We sat down with Nicole Holderbaum, winner of one of the The Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville and Florida Blue 2016 SPARK grants, to discuss the grant program, Jax Kid’s Murals and art culture in #DTJax.


All photos by Nicole Holderbaum

Tell us a little about yourself and how this whole project began.

10996952_1633448796878692_3252133316807208693_nI have been pursuing my career as an artist here for about three years now and I have found nothing but support and love from my community. Naturally, I wanted to be a part of anything that would further my career and above all else, benefit the community so when I found out about the One Spark crowd-funding festival I knew I had to be a part of it. I became a One Spark creator in 2015 and although I didn’t win, it led to many incredible relationships and opportunities. One of the greatest of those opportunities was working with the Jacksonville Parks and Rec Department on a series of kid’s murals for their 2015 summer program: Summer Night Lights! This is where I discovered my true passion for working with children and after learning about the 2016 SPARK Grant I wanted to come up with a great project!

The SPARK Grant provided by The Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville and Florida Blue is one that searches for creative 12525427_10153326495992747_6434936546305073031_oprojects that will benefit the community and bring a positive light and life to Downtown Jacksonville. In December of 2015, I found out that I was one of the SPARK Grantees for 2016! My project, “Jacksonville’s Youth Ignites the SPARK District” (now called Jax Kid’s Mural Festival) was chosen to receive funding for 2016. Jax Kid’s Mural Festival is all about uniting our community and providing a fun and creative event for children and their families to enjoy.

How did you hear about the SPARK Grant opportunity? What was that process like?

To tell you the truth, I don’t remember how I heard about it. I think I just got so excited and my mind started racing as soon as I found out about it that the memory of discovering it was not logged into my long term memory! The process was pretty simple. Fill out an online application and detail every single aspect about your project/idea. It took me probably a week to complete. I really wanted to do a good job!

Why do you think that art in Downtown Jacksonville specifically is so important?

I think that art in Downtown Jacksonville and all around Jacksonville, brings our city to life. Art, especially big art that you can’t help but look at, makes you think and really gets your mind going. It is also very pleasing to look at, so it makes people happy! Above all else I think public art adds something special to our City, something that instills pride within the people of our community. It is a public display of the awesome and creative things that are going on in this city.

12640427_10201497241991025_8829511942385743034_oWhat are the next steps in implementing your mission with the Jax Kid’s Mural Project?

The Jax Kid’s Mural Festivals are a series of four mural festivals for children that will be held in four different locations in the SPARK District of Downtown Jacksonville. What you can expect to see are three free-standing walls approximately eight feet tall and 20 feet long on which children will be painting and filling in a coloring-book-style mural.

Right now the focus is on making our first event as big and amazing as it can possibly be. We want to start off with a BANG! Fundraising is also one of the top priorities as it enables us to focus on our outreach program. The outreach program is all about bringing the mural festival to underprivileged children in our community, children who wouldn’t be able to attend the main events held in the Downtown area. I hope that through my kid’s mural projects I can provide guidance for the youth of our community and help them to become confident and happy individuals. Our goal is to bring a mural wall to one school every month and host a mural day for the students. Once their mural is complete the school can keep it and put it on display around their campus. We think and hope that this will brighten the day for these kids!

How can people help fund this project or get more information on attending and participating?

Tax free donations can be made through The Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville’s website, or our Go Fund Me page.12622075_10201497242471037_3725403721987402674_o-1

The first of the four festivals will be held on April 2nd in Hemming Park in collaboration with the non-profit organization Yoga 4 Change. The festivals will be open to all businesses and organizations in our community who are interested in participating, sponsoring or collaborating in any way.


For more information, follow Nicole’s project on Instagram and Facebook. Thank you Nicole and the Cultural Council for your work in beautifying #DTJax!

Ambassador Michael and artist Jami Childers

Ambassador Michael and artist Jami Childers

Downtown’s latest murals give new meaning to the phrase “from trash to treasure.”

Two paintings, approximately two feet wide and eight feet high, now cover the gaps between The Magnificat Cafe and its two adjacent buildings near the corner of Laura and Monroe streets. These gaps used to be a common spot for litter, now no longer accessible thanks to the artwork.

“It’ll brighten up that corner a little bit,” said artist Jami Childers, who painted the murals. “It’s a good remedy for an ugly problem.”

The idea for the murals began last fall when Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officer Rey Coll approached Downtown Ambassador Michael Ryan about the gap on Monroe Street. Officer Coll asked Ambassador Mike if there was anything he could do about cleaning out the litter and possibly blocking the gap with a plant or other material.

While Officer Coll and Ambassador Mike were discussing clean-up options at the site, Childers, who owns 44 Monroe Art Studio & Gallery adjacent to the gap, popped out to see what they were up to. They explained the issue, and then the idea came to Ambassador Michael: Childers could paint a mural to install over the gap.

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flameThe following is part of the Downtown is on Fire “Firestarters” series, spotlighting people who light up Downtown. They are musicians, restaurant owners, entrepreneurs and Downtown enthusiasts just like you. Learn their stories and find out how you can blaze a trail by building your business in Jacksonville’s hottest neighborhood.

Screen shot 2014-10-17 at 5.57.09 PMMuralist and illustrator Shaun Thurston leaves his mark on Downtown, one blank space at a time.

Since moving back to Jacksonville in 2010 after a three-year stint in Atlanta, Shaun has created a portfolio of work that lives beyond the pages of a portfolio. His vibrant creations — which range from colorful crystals that attracted thousands of visitors to MOCA Jacksonville, to ethereal islands full of natural wildlife that float above Chamblin’s Uptown, to a frog extending its hands to cradle a fisherman on an Adams Street building — are part of a movement to embrace public art as a vital part of the city’s placemaking efforts.

“When I moved back from Atlanta, I started thinking about doing art Downtown,” says Shaun. “I hope that my work reminds people what it’s like to be in a specific space. When you look at a mural on a city block, it becomes part of your life. That doesn’t happen with a single piece of art on a wall.”

Shout-out to our friends and cohorts at Downtown is on Fire for allowing us to share this “Firestarters” series with our readers.

by: Admin in Placemaking No Comments  

Finished last week, the murals on the Yates parking garage brighten up Downtown with more whimsical public art.

The first two murals, best seen by drivers entering Downtown from the Hart Bridge Expressway, are abstract designs by Felicia Asteinza and Joey Fillasre of Milagros Art Collective. The remaining two murals, featuring symbolic Origami paper cranes, were created by Sean Mahan of Neptune Beach.

If you haven’t seen the murals yet, check out the photos below but we promise you, that it will be worth your time to visit the murals and see them for yourself.

For more information on the City of Jacksonville’s Art in Public Places collection, administered by the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, and other art initiatives Downtown, read our previous blog post.




by: Admin in Placemaking No Comments  

The saying goes that colors brighten any room. The same can be said about public art Downtown. The recent addition of several public art installations Downtown have brightened bare exterior walls of businesses, brought life back to façades of vacant historic buildings and transformed familiar walkways’ fences, sidewalks and trees.

Yates garage mural installation underway June 7.

The latest in this public art boom on the heels of One Spark are the Yates parking garage murals, currently under installation at the corner of Market and Newnan streets. New murals will be constructed on each of the four 52-foot stair towers of the garage and are the newest addition to the City of Jacksonville’s Art in Public Places collection, administered by the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville.

The first two murals, by Northeast Florida artists Felici Asteinza and Joey Fillastre of Milagros Art Collective, are abstract designs best seen by drivers from the Hart Bridge Expressway. Neptune Beach artist Sean Mahan will create figurative and symbolic images on the remaining two murals geared toward pedestrian traffic.

Sean Mahan mural concept (left), alongside Felici Asteinza and Joey Fillastre of Milagros Art Collective’s abstract mural.

According to the official press release, the murals will create a visual connection to accessible public parking and serve as an entry point into the Spark District, a new Cultural Council initiative to revitalize Downtown’s core through arts and culture projects.

The Spark District spans from the riverfront north to Duval Street and is bordered east to west from Liberty Street to Hogan Street and is meant to serve as a canvas for Spark Grant Program beneficiaries. The Spark Grant Program anticipates awarding $5,000-$25,000 to approximately eight visual arts projects from a pool of $60,000 this year. For more information, view the Spark Grant video or visit the Cultural Council’s website.

Public art is an important initiative for any Downtown working toward revitalization as it enhances the street-level experience, creates and inspires effective public place-making and improves the quality of life for Downtown workers, residents and visitors.

If you’re interested in checking out the Yates garage murals’ installations, the artists are scheduled to paint at the site 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through July 6.

by: Katherine Hardwick in Placemaking No Comments  

Some of Downtown Jacksonville’s most memorable and iconic buildings are not the tallest, rather they’re the most artful.

Take, for instance, the building many people know as the “Jaguar Building.” Situated at the base of the Main St. bridge, the historic Bostwick Building is in danger or demolition. Thanks to the well-known mural called “Cat House,” painted and installed by Jim Draper and Anne Banas in 1995, the building’s recognition is high and the number of advocates looking to save this Downtown icon is higher yet. Or, consider Burrito Gallery. A staple of Downtown, “BG” is loved by locals for its delicious Tex-Mex and its art, both inside and out. The popular eatery boasts a frequently photographed two-story mural named, “Midnight City” painted by local artist MactruQue in 2004.

These are just two works that contribute to the soul and identity of our city. According to Robert Arleigh White, executive director of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, “Public art creates a strong sense of place and community.  Many times, it is the thing that attracts people to a place and creates impressions, memories and aspirations that can last a lifetime.”

Ron Chamblin in front of Downtown’s newest mural

Ron Chamblin of Chamblin’s Uptown bookstore and café understands just how important a sense of place is to the urban environment. Chamblin has commissioned Downtown’s newest mural as a part of DVI’s Laura Street Façade Grant Program, a matching grant program established in 2011 to provide economic incentive for property and business owners to improve building facades and storefronts.

This weekend, local muralist Shaun Thurston began work on the permanent a mural. Thurston, known for his vibrant 5 Points murals (including work in Sun-Ray Cinema) was selected by DVI and the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville from a pool of local artists. Chamblin’s mural will complement four murals being installed Downtown on the Yates Garage by the Cultural Council’s Art in Public Places program in concert with the City of Jacksonville and additional public art in conjunction with One Spark.

The following is this week’s issue of the #DTJax Weekly Update e-newsletter. To receive this in your email inbox each week, sign-up here.


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