by: Admin in Placemaking No Comments  

NPR photo

Thought-provoking public art and effective placemaking knows no borders. Walk the streets of Downtown Jacksonville, and you’ll see yarn-bombs, murals and sculptures. Walk the streets of Brazil’s Sao Paulo, and you’ll likely run into the same.

A recent NPR story chronicles the public art and placemaking scene of Downtown Sao Paulo, along with the artists who make it happen:

“[Crochet artist Leticia] Matos covers trees and street poles with woolen sleeves and small, colorful pompoms. Her works look like whimsical webs of rainbow yarn; the effect is surprising and oddly comforting.

‘I want people to have something familiar in the city. Here in Brazil we teach knitting from mother to daughter,’ Matos says. ‘When they see my art, they suddenly feel comfortable walking these cold streets. And you can feel better.’

Urban landscapes have always inspired art, and Brazil is no exception. A new crop of artists like Matos not only is taking inspiration from Sao Paulo’s streets but also is trying to give something back.”

Read or listen to the full NPR story: In Gritty Sao Paulo, Artists Take To The Streets. In the comment section below, share your ideas for public art and placemaking in Downtown Jacksonville.

When Shawn Thurston spray-painted his landscape mural on the storefront of Chamblin’s Uptown last month, the installation was an introduction of the public art to come. Using the inaugural One Spark festival as a catalyst, DVI continued its efforts in collaboration with the Cultural Council to bring art Downtown, acting as a liaison between artists and property owners and securing approval to add four temporary and permanent public art installations to Downtown’s building façades.

Doug Eng’s “Beyond the Facade”

Local photographer and fine artist, Doug Eng, installed large-scale images of nature and architecture called “Beyond the Façade,” over the boarded windows of the Laura St. Trio and Barnett Bank buildings at the intersection of Laura and Adams streets.

A familiar face in the Downtown art scene, Eng has participated in Off the Grid for a number of years, formerly with a studio space in Studio 121 and currently as a member of the artist cooperative, Southlight Gallery. Prior to “Beyond the Façade,” Eng has lead and participated in a number of installations and exhibits Downtown including “Message in a Bottle: Wall of Light” in Main Street Park last spring. The installation sculpture displayed thousands of messages from the community to raise the awareness of our military’s service to our country.

‘Currently the landscape of abandoned buildings, empty storefronts, and “Available” signage is the driver of depressed states of consciousness for the city. By creating interest, curiosity, and observer interaction, we can begin to transform the downtown experience to a positive one,’ said Eng.

“Rise from the Ashes” by Corey Kolb & Eric Hinote

Local activists Doug Coleman and Wayne Wood introduced “The Big One” project, which brought six larger-than-life sculpture and mural installations to Downtown for One Spark. Included in project is the “Rise from the Ashes” wheat paste mural spanning the width of the vacant Lerner Building, which sits across from The Carling residence at 20 W. Adams Street.

The mural was a joint collaboration by local artists and graphic designers Corey Kolb and Eric Hinote.  “We were trying to portray a positive message for the city in that it’s time to support Downtown and see it return to the epicenter it once was. We see that initiatives like Art Walk and One Spark can revitalize Jacksonville’s urban core by giving people a reason to visit and stay Downtown,” said Hinote. “We feel it’s time that Jacksonville embraces this notion and builds off the initiatives it has put in place to make Downtown more vibrant culturally.”

“Yarnbomb Downtown Jax” by Jackie Kuhn

Between the Laura Street Trio and Lerner buildings, sits an empty fenced-in lot, which came to life with whimsical knitted scenes lead by Jackie Kuhn from Neptune Beach, FL. The most temporary of the installations, “Yarnbomb Downtown Jax,” showcased this female dominated art form, which creates a dialogue between fiber artists and the public through non-permanent street art, called “yarn bombing.” In addition to the mural, yarn creations covered tree trunks, statues, poles and bike racks during the festival.

“Up-cycle” by SeeSAW

Two blocks down Adams Street, Matthew Hebermehl of Savannah, GA lead a project by SeeSAW, See Savannah Art Walls, to paint “Up-cycle.” This installation on the exterior of Burro Bar at 100 E. Adams Street, brings color to a formerly whitewashed wall highly visible from the Main Street bridge entrance into the Northbank core of Downtown. Inspired by the themes of renewal and cultural fire, the mural showcases the positive impact of community-centric public art.

If Thurston’s first mural was the introduction, the murals installed for One Spark are only the first chapter. Announced recently, the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville has launched a Spark Initiative for the walking core of Downtown. Through this grant program, the Cultural Council will fund additional placement of art and culture, such as bike racks or benches; or events, performances, festivals, concerts and tours.

Have you had a chance to see the new art Downtown? What do you think? What would you like to see next?

by: Admin in Thought Leadership No Comments  

This is Downtown.

This is Downtown on One Spark.

After more than 20 years as a Jacksonville resident, I’m happy to say Downtown still continues to surprise me. As I stood among the crowd in Hemming Plaza Wednesday night, I saw a city I didn’t recognize, an energy I’ve never felt and pride that cannot be defined.

It’s no secret that One Spark has lit up the heart of the River City. Murals line façades of historic buildings. A larger-than-life “rubber” duckie floats in a Hemming Plaza fountain. Yarn is crocheted around lampposts and fencing and bike racks and an entire stage, all in intricate patterns and burst of color.

That’s only the beginning.

Jacksonville, you don’t want to miss this. Learn about – and try out – the art of hula-hooping on the Riverwalk. Chat with the designer of a Downtown beach proposed for the St. Johns River. See first-hand eco-friendly art, furniture, books and more. Cast your vote to support groups working to make people’s lives better through companion dogs, outdoor recreation opportunities, education and more. Hear live music, enjoy a speaker series, explore Downtown’s restaurants and nightlife.

The urban core is calling. If you’re not Downtown, you’re wasting time. This is Downtown’s time.

by: Katherine Hardwick in Placemaking No Comments  

Recently a blank canvas, the Chamblin’s Uptown storefront came alive last week thanks to local muralist Shaun Thurston. Four more murals are set to grace the corners of the Yates Garage this spring and summer thanks to the Cultural Council’s Art in Public Places program in conjunction with the City of Jacksonville. And, One Spark is sure to bring even more art and innovation our way in less than a month.

These murals are one important facet of creative placemaking, the power of the arts to create new economies, cultural destinations and vital neighborhoods. A recent article by MinnPost makes the case for harnessing creative placemaking to foster human capital and stimulate economic development.

“We may be used to thinking of community development  in terms of bricks and mortar, but the lifeblood of any neighborhood is the people who live there. The aim of community developers is to improve quality of life, not just build housing or beautify streets. Quality of life implies that residents have access to basic opportunities in their neighborhood, but also that they feel connected to that neighborhood, invested in it; they feel that they have a say in its future as well as their own.

Creating or experiencing art can give people a fulfilling sense of personal power. We all have something to say about the world, and art helps us find our voice. It can also help us find each other. Arts activities provide valuable opportunities for people to gather and interact. Personal  power gained through art can become community power, and collective action that results from that power can be transformative.”

Read the whole article here: Let’s use the power of the arts to stimulate community development.


by: Admin in Placemaking No Comments  

Guerilla sidewalk gardening

Downtowns may not be perfect, but they’re the perfect canvas for a little – or a lot – of creativity through guerilla placemaking: everything from street art to gardening to benching.

Generally speaking, placemaking is not a new concept. It has been around since the 1960s, when visionaries like Jane Jacobs and William “Holly”Whyte offered ideas about designing cities around people instead of cars and shopping centers. Guerrilla placemaking makes people talk and question what’s going on. It’s under-the-radar pops of color, surprises and even activities that make people feel welcome and comfortable and create a sense of place.

Tables and chairs outside of Chamblin’s Uptown

A couple of years ago, public pianos were placed around Downtown as a part of the City Keys Project. One still sits in front of Chamblin’s Uptown bookstore and café today and the sounds of impromptu concerts often waft down Laura Street. Building upon this vibe, owner Ron Chamblin used the Laura Street Façade Grant Program to add chairs, tables and umbrellas to create a free-floating place for folks to read, chat and sip coffee. This spring a whimsical mural, also part of the grant program, will be added to the storefront to further define this sense of place.

Not all projects have to be long-term or permanent; going guerrilla is about starting small. It’s something we can all take part in to better our community, to leave our mark, and create interesting, engaging, even surprising experiences. And, as with the streetscape at Chamblin’s, small placemaking surprises can often be the start of something big.

Guerrilla placemaking is about bringing a community together in unconventional ways. It is tactable urbanism – ever changing, sociable and inspiring. Here’s a look at what other cities have done:


Share links from your favorite guerrilla placemaking projects below.


by: Admin in Art Walk No Comments  

“Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is a process, working together is a success,” Henry Ford said. And an opportunity arose….

A recent Art Walk survey confirmed that attendees crave a stronger concentration of art. To enhance the art offerings, draw more people and keep this 9-year-old event fresh, partnerships are essential. Earlier this year, we approached AIGA (formerly known as American Institute of Graphic Artists) to join forces, and it turns out we go together like pencils and erasers.

Members of AIGA’s Jacksonville Chapter have participated in past Art Walks through an event called “Atomic Sketch.” Illustrators and designers create works of art in a live setting. Pieces are available for sale on site at affordable prices (anywhere from $5 – $50) and a portion of the proceeds benefit AIGA’s design mentoring program, Discover Design.


People love watching these artists at work. They also love affordable art for a good cause. So we wondered, why not have “Atomic Sketch” take over Art Walk? We approached AIGA board members Karen Kurycki and Jim Ward with the idea to hold a “Draw Your HeART Out” Art Walk in February.

Right away, Karen and Jim went to work recruiting talent while DVI assisted with signing up venues. This matchmaking resulted in 14 feature “Atomic Sketch” venues showcasing more than 45 AIGA artists. A marketing-savvy group, AIGA has launched a full promotions assault, from socials to social media. In addition to producing their own flyers, Karen and Jim created a limited edition sketch-tastic Art Walk Map, available at all participating Art Walk locations.

Thanks to dedicated partners such as AIGA, Art Walk will continue to bring the community together to celebrate art and Downtown. The “Draw Your HeART Out” Art Walk lifts off Wednesday, Feb. 6 from 5-9 p.m. If you are interested in partnering with Art Walk, please contact Art Walk Manager Liz Grebe.

Venues Hosting Atomic Sketch: 1904 Music Hall, Brazilian Corner, Chamblin’s Uptown, Daniel James Salon, Hemming Plaza, The Jacksonville Bank, The Jacksonville Landing, Olio, Perdue, Inc., Pho. A Noodle Bar, Quizno’s Subs, The Art Center Cooperative, Inc. II (TAC II), Underbelly and Visit Jacksonville

AIGA Artists: Nayhal Adhyaru, Chelsea Alford, Greg Ausum, Molly Brown, Kristina Cancelmi, Kyle Cannon, Sean Collins, Jen Cone, Jose Cruz-Figueroa, Bri Cunha, Karen Dessire, Abraham Dexter, Katy Garrison, Jamie Lynn Galley, Andy Gattis, Henry Gonzales, Margete Griffin, Ed Hall, Tim Hartman, Nikki Haywood, Eric Hinote, Chrissy Hufford, Bryan Hunt, Heather Ivy, Mitch Kelly, Karen Kurycki, Chad Landenberger, Amanda Langenbach, Ian Latchmansingh, Yvonne Lozano, Ferdie Martinez, Argie Mitra, Armando Mitra, Brett Mosher, Melissa Pierce, Amy Pomar, Russel Quadros, Caitlin Robinson, Varick Rosete, Jesse Sison, Stephanie Soden, Nick Villalva, Jim Ward, Drew White, Ben Windsor, Ashon Wynn, Laura Bearl, Steve Miller, Martin Moore

by: Admin in Uncategorized No Comments  

Where there’s a spark, there’s fire.

Downtown Jacksonville is beginning to feel the heat of anticipation from the world’s first crowd-funding festival, One Spark, coming to Downtown Jacksonville April 17-21.

Last week, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan pledged to support One Spark up to $1 million. With that news came the extension on the Creator deadline, now Feb. 22. At last night’s Town Hall Meeting, One Spark announced that, to date, Creators from 16 states and 15 countries have signed up.

Do you have an idea, a concept – a dream? Let Downtown Jacksonville be your gallery – sign up to be a One Spark Creator.