In our Mural Spotlight series, we take a look at some of the creative new murals that have popped up around Jacksonville’s urban core in recent years. (Know of a mural we should feature? Email your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org)
For the past few decades, the commercial plaza at University Boulevard and Arlington Expressway once known as Town & Country Shopping Center has been in a downward pattern of decline – as has its surrounding neighborhood in Arlington. But a recently-completed mural may serve as the first step in turning things around.
“The Wall at College Park,” an eight-piece mural project along the side of Legacy Ministries’ building facing Arlington Expressway, was commissioned by JWB Real Estate as its first step in overhauling the dilapidated retail center. The project brought together a group of eight local artists, organized by Nicole Holderbaum, to each create a 36-foot-tall mural – together, their art would spell out “ARLINGTON” in a series of creative vignettes.
The murals were completed by the artists – Holderbaum, Elena Ohlander, Christopher Clark, Martin Torres, Anthony Rooney, Ansley Randall, Tatiana Kitchen, and Steven Teller – between February and March this year, with each artist bringing a personal flair to their respective parts of the project:
- “A” by Elena Ohlander consists of an anime-style depiction of a girl, who wears a Jaguars-teal helmet with the letter “A” on it along with “DUUUVAL” and “904”
- “R” by Chris Clark depicts a young Black man getting a haircut, his natural hair on display, with the letter “R” formed from the top of his hair
- “Li” by Martin Torres shows a person with colorful hair looking toward a blue sky, with “Li” superimposed over their hair
- “N” by Nicole Holderbaum depicts local teacher and activist Ebony Payne-English smiling and looking up at a butterfly approaching her headscarf, with a neon “N” lingering above
- “G” by Anthony Rooney shows a giraffe in front of a red-orange sunset with the letter “G” framing its head
- “T” by Ansley Randall, founder of Jax is Rad, depicts a letter “T” among abstract shapes and colors
- “O” by Tatiana Kitchen depicts a woman, shaded in dark blue, with an “O” forming a halo above her head
- “N” by Steven Teller features an “N” atop a backdrop of large blue flowers
The shopping center’s revitalization project is still a work in progress, and it remains to be seen if it can be the catalyst needed by the surrounding neighborhood. But for now, the new mural provides hope for a bright future in Arlington.