Whether you are downtown, on the Westside, in Durkeeville, or out at the beaches, Jacksonville’s public art offerings have expanded tremendously, with murals as the anchor to provide a positive impact and help foster a cultural identity for the city. Considering that the majority of the city’s murals have only materialized within the past five years, it’s easy to take for granted that Jacksonville’s urban core is as colorful as it is today.
In 2015 ArtRepublic put forth a five-year plan to show Jacksonville how the power of world-class public art could engage the community and spawn economic development. ArtRepublic’s founder and CEO, Jessica Santiago, partnered with the private sector to create a massive transformation to downtown Jacksonville through annual productions of high-quality public art, events, and exhibitions.
The CoRK Arts District, the first of its kind artists’ district in Jacksonville, opened ten years ago. It has since grown from one building to three with a mission to support artists in the community by offering workspaces for creativity and collaboration. True to its mission, the district’s artists were invited to express themselves by painting murals on the building’s exterior.
Jacksonville has a steadfast record of social activism and civil rights movements, stemming from a violent racial history that (for many) is uncomfortable to talk about; a history that is woven so deeply into the community, and our country, that it continues to this day.
After a long wait, and during one of the most challenging years in our history, downtown Jacksonville saw the completion, installation, and illumination of the highly anticipated and iconic mixed-media sculpture “Emergence.”
This year has called upon administrators, teachers, and students alike to be innovative, creative, and adaptive—three things that are embedded in the arts. It is no surprise that these schools are rising to the challenge with open minds and a great deal of panache.