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Community Creatives Unveil Grove Street Art

Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans

Initially just one mural, the Grove Street Neighborhood project quickly gained neighborhood support and developed into a full scale community project with the unveiling of ten murals in total. On Saturday, March 4, 2017 neighborhood members celebrated the project’s completion. At least twelve regional artists participated in this celebration and four local musicians performed with free-style hip-hop and electronic music. During this celebration, guests interacted the artists, listened to poetry and had the opportunity to partake in a painted a community mural.

Sponsored on a global scale, Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans is a ground-breaking public art project created by PangeaSeed Foundation and supporting artists to help bring the beauty and the plight of the world’s oceans to the streets around the world. Collaborating with internationally renowned artists, large-scale murals focus attention on pressing issues such as overfishing, plastics and pollution, global climage change, and habitat loss. The PangeaSeed Foundation aims to generate awareness and stimulate dialogue to inspire positive change surrounding global ocean environmental issues. Forging a synthesis between creative expression, nature, and society, the PangesSeed Foundation (re)connects individuals and communities with our planet’s most important ecosystem, the ocean.

The first mural, Soulful Words: Speak Now! was done by Nicole “Nico” Holderbaum and Martin Torres from Jacksonville, Florida. Right away, interest grew among the local mural artistic community. Steve Speir, Sanders Soloman, Rachel Sommer, Ras Justo Luis, Bhuta Bhavana Das Adhikari, Liza Cholodkova, and Orlando-based Chaya Av, jumped at the opportunity to beautify this visually unattractive site transforming it into a beautiful artistic destination for the neighborhood.

Iryna Kanishcheva then contacted the PangeaSeed Foundation for the activation of Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans in Gainesville, Florida. The mission of this organization is to generate awareness and stimulate dialogue and inspire positive changes surrounding global ocean environmental issues. The artist chosen for this mural was Ruben Ubiera, a Miami-based and renowned artist who created the mural Ambergris Inc. in just one day, Friday, February 24, 2017 around the corner from Powell’s Plaza at the QMT Building at 904 NW 4th Street, on its south wall.

Then, Gaia, Baltimore-based prominent street art muralist jumped at the opportunity to do a mural celebrating nationally acclaimed American writer Jack Kerouac (whose works have been part of an annual reading at Dreamers Garden in the Grove Street Neighborhood since 2002), and, local icon, beloved educator, and civil rights activist Wilhelmina Johnson. He arrived on Monday night, February 27, 2017, to start on the mural the next day after finalizing his historic research.

The murals and the preparation of the walls for the murals took place in less than a month. One rugged terrain airlift was used to access the tallest walls. The budget is still an on-going process. David Edwards and Maria Huff Edwards advanced the money to cover the bleach, sealer, and paints as well as the food for the various artists. Although the fund raising is still going on, to date $1,595 has been raised. Sponsors are from the local community, some with more limited means than others, but all believing in this special project. Still waiting to be funded are $2,500. For those interested in sponsoring these murals in the Grove Street Neighborhood, please contact Maria Huff Edwards at maria0407@bellsouth.net.

The Grove Street Neighborhood Murals Project is a community project that aims to beautify and revitalize the historic, inner city Grove Street Neighborhood in Gainesville, Florida. Founded by award winners and community activists Iryna Kanishcheve and Maria Huff Edwards. The project is curated by Iryna Kanishcheva, coordinated by the neighborhood leader Maria Huff Edwards, with the help of volunteers David J. Edwards, John Wilson, Rachel Sommer, and neighborhood supporters Mary Mehn, Tom Salmon, and Greg Stetz, among others. The Grove Street Neighborhood sees murals as an artistic tool towards its further stabilization, beautification, and restoration.