It’s not hard to walk around #DTJax and see beauty. From the historic buildings and eye-catching architecture to the hidden gems like Spliff’s Beer Garden and murals throughout the city, we have a lot of offer. The streets of #DTJax are about to get even more artsy with the help of The City of Jacksonville’s Art in Public Places Program, together with the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville and the Downtown Investment Authority.

If you’ve walked around #DTJax lately, you may have seen green decals sprinkled throughout the streets. Come Spring 2017, these spots will be home to brand new art pieces thanks to the Urban Arts Project Phase 1 of the Art in Public Places Program.Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 11.23.29 AM

The Art in Public Places Program was adopted by City Council in 1997 and thus created the Art in Public Places Trust Fund. This fund is subsidized through an allocated percentage of construction costs for building a public facility thus designating specific funds for capital improvement and even more specifically, for public art. This money then goes toward large-scale community art projects that gets broken down into artist fees and supplies (85%), maintenance (5%) and community outreach programs (10%).

Phase one of the Urban Arts Project, with guidance from the Downtown Investment Authority, focuses on placing street art like bike racks, street furnishings and outdoor sculptures along the streets while also beautifying existing infrasture like the skyway columns and traffic signal cabinets. After all is said and done, 34 different projects will embellish #DTJax. Six artists from the State of Florida, two of whom are from Jacksonville, will produce original art installations at each location. Meet the six artists:

  • Cecilia Lueza, of Miami is a 2-D and 3-D artist who will address nine of the JTA Skyway columns along Hogan Street from Hemming Park Station to Bay Street. Lueza is interested in this project “because it will provide us the opportunity to create a site specific public art that would engage the public while creating welcoming focal points for the area.”
  • Andrew Reid, of North Bay Village, Florida is a muralist who will paint eight JTA Skyway columns that run from Bay Street to Central Station. Reid emphasizes that the “collaborative process is important to help inform the final vision for the artwork. By working closely with the people and organizations that are invested in the community, I would come up with an artistic solution that is perfectly and uniquely suited for this project.”
  • Michelle Weinberg, of Miami Beach, has a fine art background and works in multiple media. She will design images for vinyl wraps to be placed on seven traffic signal cabinets within the urban core. She says, “my paintings describe architectural spaces as theater. Streetscapes, alleys, plazas, kiosks, storefronts, any instance in which wall meets floor and forms an area for drama to occur – this is where my imagination begins.”
  • Lance Vickery, of Jacksonville Beach, is a sculptor who will design and build several sets of sculptural bike racks for Downtown, creating enticing art for passersby as well as convenient racks for cyclists. Lance Vickery says he is “very interested in working with the various stakeholders to make this a significant project for Jacksonville.”
  • Jenny Hager, of Jacksonville Beach, is a UNF art professor who will design and create sculptural seating along Hogan Street to both delight pedestrians and offer the respite of seating. Hager states, “the intention behind my work is to create a truly engaging experience for the viewer, one that has resonance and power in the moment. I believe very much in being a part of my local art community and strive to make it a more interesting and cultural place in which to live.”
  • Rafael Consuegra, who was born in Cuba and resides in Miami, is selected by the panel to create a large iconic outdoor sculpture to be placed near the corner of Monroe and Laura Streets by Snyder Memorial Church. Consuegra believes that public art “rests not only in creating a unique and fresh work of art that will never go unnoticed, but also a work of art that: is site-specific, has intrinsic value, is considered a landmark, is able to withstand the passage of time, succeeds in expressing a concept and/or emotion and is easy to maintain.”


We are excited to see these stunning new additions to #DTJax art and culture soon! Keep up with the Art in Public Places Program by visting the website or following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

by: Katherine Hardwick in Downtown Vision, Inc. No Comments  

If you haven’t picked up the April issue of EU Jacksonville what are you waiting for? One Spark may be over, but there’s much more Downtown goodness to discover. From the amazing article on the “Millentrepreneurs of #Duval”–faces near and dear to Downtown–to a fantastic spread on igniting the economic engine of Downtown through the Cultural Council’s Spark District initiatives, the issue elaborates on some of the best news in Downtown.

And then, of course, I’ll make a shameless plug for our very own Downtown column – a little bit about who we are and what we do day to day:

EU Jacksonville - April

Downtown, In Focus
A Conversation with Downtown Vision, Inc.

In the immortal words of former Jacksonville Mayor Jake Godbold, “As your Downtown goes, so goes your city.” So then, how are things Downtown going today?

The number of Downtown residents is the highest it’s been in decades and residential properties are more than 90% occupied. Downtown office vacancy rates continue to drop each year. Crime in Downtown accounts for only 2% of serious crime in the entire City of Jacksonville. And, Downtown has more parking than Disney World, not including Animal Kingdom.

Downtown champions are hard at work. The Cultural Council has created a Spark Grant program for Downtown revitalization through the arts. The Elbow, Downtown’s nightlife and entertainment district brings together more than two-dozen businesses, all locally owned and operated. Events and ventures like One Spark and now KYN make Downtown a haven for entrepreneurs. And great advocates for Downtown, like the wonderful folks at EU Jacksonville, are helping to shine a spotlight on it all.

From where I sit, in my office on the corner of Adams and Hogan streets, it’s not just that the numbers are adding up, but there’s a tangible excitement in the air. You see, Downtown is not just a job for me, it’s a passion. I’m the director of marketing for Downtown Vision, Inc. (DVI), Jacksonville’s Downtown Improvement District (DID). And, my goal is to tell the story of Downtown.

Let me get technical for a moment in case you’re unfamiliar. A DID is created by commercial property owners within a downtown when they see a need for services over and above what their city government provides. They pay a self-assessed tax based on property values to fund the organization, which then tailors its services to fit the needs of its district. In essence, a DID acts like a homeowners association. More than 1,000 exist in the U.S., and New York City has more than 67 alone.  They exist in most of the 50 largest cities in the United States, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Downtowns are a fascinating subject. But if you’re not convinced yet, here’s why you should care: Downtowns are a source of community identity, culture, history and pride.  A thriving downtown attracts new businesses, jobs and a diverse work force, keeping dollars in the community and enhancing the quality of life for the entire city.

And so, DVI works as the management arm of Downtown Jacksonville to enhance the quality of life for Downtown property owners, and in turn, Downtown employees, residents and everyone who visits. Our resume includes everything from removing graffiti on the columns of the new County Courthouse to advocating for historic preservation to arranging dining promotions with two-dozen restaurants during their slowest time of the year. Our job is to pull all the pieces together.

DVI’s team of smiling Downtown Ambassadors in their orange shirt and pith helmets, are hard at work seven days a week to make Downtown cleaner, safer and friendlier. After all, you have to clean house before you have guests over. And, we’ve welcomed hundreds of thousands of guests over the years to more than 750 event days we’ve programmed, including the award-winning First Wednesday Art Walk. We leased more than 50,000 square feet of vacant retail space to artists with the Off the Grid initiative in partnership with the Cultural Council. And, we tell people what’s going, where to go and how to park at our resource for all things Downtown, Nobody knows Downtown better than us!

And we’re just getting started. Through a partnership with the new Downtown Investment Authority we’re able to do more to attract and retain businesses. Through a partnership with the Downtown Marketing Collaborative, we’re able to reach more people. And, through a partnership with Greenscape and The Paul Bryan Group, we’re launching new beautification initiatives starting in Hemming Plaza.

It’s an exciting time to be Downtown, and I look forward to sharing exciting news and insights on Downtown each month with you. Until then, subscribe to weekly “Things to Do” and Monthly Update e-newsletters, and learn more about our vision for Downtown, by reading our white paper: “Turning the Corner: Rethinking and Remaking Downtown” at Or, let us take you on a walking tour of Downtown and show you around, just contact me at

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?