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Street mural beams from San Marco intersection

Published on February 16, 2023 at 4:42 pm

There is some new street art in San Marco — literally art on a street.

Part of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville‘s public art project, the new mural covers the intersection of San Marco Boulevard and Nira Street, next to the Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center and Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute.

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The mural, officially unveiled Thursday, is visible from the cancer center’s third-floor walkway over San Marco Boulevard. It is the work of Atlantic Beach artist Ansley Randall — a mix of geometric and angular shapes. Only the manhole covers remain unpainted.

“It’s not as tough as you think, but it is tough because it is all mathematical, like everything I do is all mathematical,” Randall said at a news conference. “My intention is always just to bring joy and, like happiness that, like a surprise element that when people drive over it, that they are excited. It’s just something new that they can see.”

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Randall was chosen after she responded to a Cultural Council call to artists in 2021 to take part in this San Marco project. Council Executive Director Diana Donovan said they are excited to see this project done, as other organizations are creating more around the city.

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“We can maximize the opportunity for the community to indulge, enjoy, celebrate and elevate the community and economy around them,” Donovan said. “One of the things that it uniquely does is that it connects people, and it also helps bring a calming to that space, like you stop, you look, you see, you experience. It makes it much more tangible.”

Incorporated in 1973 as the Arts Assembly of Jacksonville, the council advocated for the city’s first Public Art Ordinance in 1997. Now its goal is to exhibit visual art that is compatible with the city and enhances its architecture and general environment, council officials said.

The council’s official art city collection consists of 119 pieces, including works from local, regional and national artists. The collection includes photography, murals, mosaics, sculptures and street furnishings all over Downtown and in surrounding communities. Those include familiar wall murals like 2013’s Coruscating River by Felici Asteinza and Joey Fillastre on the side of an Adams street parking garage. Another garage installation also done that year is named Girl With Origami, done by Sean Mahan near the former City Hall site on East Bay Street.

“We have these beautiful pieces of public funding for public art, where you can touch it and interact,” Donovan said. “It is so critical for the community to experience public art. So crosswalks add that extra element of experience.”

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The San Marco street mural was initiated by District 5 City Council member LeAnna Cumber and was funded by crosswalk revitalization money from the city — $79,850 to repair the road and $8,500 for the mural. The work complements asphalt crack repair and pavement coating work and was done at night to minimize traffic detours.

During the news conference, videos showed workers masking off parts of the intersection as Randall supervised the multicolored shapes, circles and lines over four days in early January. Workers were shown using flamethrowers to dry the paint, then drones showed the red, orange, blue, black and white mural in its entirety. The 47- by 48-foot-wide artwork is projected to survive about three years, subject to traffic volume.

“First, we sketched it out with lines so we knew where to go, then we just taped everything out,” Randall said. “It was not as big as some, but it was a lot of layers and a lot of time to wait for paint to dry.”

Donovan said more crosswalk art is possible around the city as recent studies show asphalt art creates safer, more desirable streets and public places, often coupled with transportation and roadway safety improvements.

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Projects like this are community led, as nonprofit organizations and groups propose them. Donovan said she believes “we will see many more of these” because they are interactive and equity-driven art pieces. Expect five or six to be unveiled in the city in the next six to eight months, she said.

The culturalcouncil.org website also includes ways to tour the street art, as well as an arts and culture event site where local groups can post upcoming concerts, plays and other art displays.


author image Senior News Director, WJCT Public Media

Randy comes to Jacksonville from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, where as metro editor, he led investigative coverage of the Parkland school shooting that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for public service. He has spent more than 35 years in reporting and editing positions in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Florida. 

author image Senior News Director, WJCT Public Media

Randy comes to Jacksonville from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, where as metro editor, he led investigative coverage of the Parkland school shooting that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for public service. He has spent more than 35 years in reporting and editing positions in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Florida.