City completes three public art projects

The City of Ocala announced the completion of three public art projects on Monday. The projects were completed during the summer and include the restoration of the Ocala Black History MuralBridging the Divide in Tuscawilla Park and Retro Reel at the Marion Theatre.

On Aug. 2, in conjunction with the closing of the 2019 Ocala Levitt AMP Music Series, the City and the College of Central Florida (CF) celebrated the completion of the restoration of the Ocala Black History Mural.

Originally completed in 2005, and lead by then CF Brick City Center for the Arts staff Michele Faulconer and Hampton Center Director (current Vice president of Institutional Effectiveness and College Relations) Dr. Jillian Ramsammy, the mural provides a continual timeline of black historical events in Marion County and Ocala.

Individual panels depict themes of religion, politics, agriculture, banking, education, medicine, and social activities.  It was designed by youth during a summer art camp held at the CF’s Hampton Center in 2004.  This year’s restoration includes a new panel that acknowledges the progress made in the community since the completion of the original mural and the accomplishments of distinguished members Mary Sue Rich, Ruth Reed and Carolyn Adams.

A ground mural by Gainesville artist, Alix Mathia, now brightens up the footbridge in Tuscawilla Park. Bridging the Divide depicts faces, native animals and railway tracks that were selected to create a more inviting and creative spirit in the park. Each direction traveled provides a new perspective on the animals and the faces. The project was a joint venture of the City of Ocala Recreation and Parks Department, Division of Parks, and Division of Cultural Arts and Sciences.

The City also celebrated the installation of the relief sculpture, Retro Reel on the south face of the Marion Theatre on July 30. The work, created by artists David Huebner and Ben Sutter, is comprised of powder-coated steel, bronze and aluminum and measures over 40 feet.

Retro Reel on Marion Theatre in Ocala
The Retro Reel was added to the south side of the Marion Theatre in downtown Ocala

Filmstrip frames include stills from movies and images that are important to local history including, “Tarzan,” “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” “Sea Hunt” and the photography of Bruce Mozart (also recognized on the adjoining “Walk of Fame”). Many images came from the State Library & Archives the Florida Memory website

For more information please contact the City of Ocala Recreation and Parks Department, Division of Cultural Arts and Sciences, at 352-629-8447 or