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 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.