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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Murals are transforming Ocala’s indoor, outdoor spaces

A collection of murals across indoor and outdoor spaces in Ocala have slowly changed the landscape of the city’s public art scene. 

Multiple city officials, including City Manager Sandra Wilson, have consistently praised the efforts of local cultural arts organizations, artists, businesses, and city staff to beautify Ocala’s public spaces.

To that end, no space or building is too small or too big to feature public art. 

Among some of the larger murals across the city is “Natural Flow,” an aquatic-themed mural painted by Eduardo Mendieta. Located at the corner of SE 4th Street and SE 3rd Avenue, Mendieta says he believes art should be “accessible to all” and supports public arts initiatives. “Public art beautifies the community along with the spaces we occupy and inhabit every day,” reads a quote posted by through Ocala Cultural Arts social media channels. 

Natural Flow by Eduardo Mendieta in downtown Ocala Florida
Natural Flow by Eduardo Mendieta in downtown Ocala Florida

“Creative Refuge” is another one of the large-scale murals in downtown Ocala. Painted by artist Justin Alsedek, the mural covers the Brick City Center for the Arts courtyard.

Creative Refuge at Brick City Center for the Arts
Creative Refuge by Justin Alsedek at Brick City Center for the Arts

Two of the largest and most prominently displayed murals in downtown Ocala sit on opposite exterior walls of the center, one painted by Drake Arnold (“Life Cycle”) and the other by Ernesto Maranje (“Reflections Through Flora”). 

Life Cycle by Drake Arnold
Life Cycle by Drake Arnold

Brick City Center for the Arts mural by Ernesto Maranje
This mural was painted by Ernesto Maranje on the side of the Brick City Center for the Arts

Arnold lays claim to another one of the largest murals in downtown Ocala with “Electromagnetism,” which is painted along one exterior wall of the Ocala Citizens Service Center. 

Artist Drake Arnold recently completed his mural titled ‘Electromagnetism,’ which is painted on the Ocala Citizens Service Center.

Not all of the murals around the city are painted along buildings.

“Bridging the Divide” by artist Alix Mathia is located on the bridge at Tuscawilla Park. The bridge is one of the many public art works on display at the park, which is still accepting applications for sculptors interested in possibly displaying their works at the park for the next two years. 

Bridging the Divide by Alix Mathia
Bridging the Divide by Alix Mathia

This month, the Ocala Cultural Arts and Science Division announced the addition of a Transformer Mural by artist Carlynne Hershberger. The mural is accompanied by sculptural fencing by artist Mike Zeak. 

Transformer Mural in downtown Ocala
Transformer Mural in downtown Ocala by Carlynne Hersheberger

The Ocala Skate Park features a skateboard-inspired mural by artist Cosby Hayes entitled “All Hands on Deck.”

art panel at Ocala Skate Park
One of the art panels at Ocala Skate Park

Multiple businesses, including the Loft, Loco’s Grill & Pub, and Mutiny Pirate Bar have made considerable investments to create murals on interior spaces. 

Welcome to Ocala mural at Locos Grill & Pub
This “Welcome to Ocala” mural helps provide for a colorful, friendly environment at Locos Grill & Pub.

Last month, the Ocala Electric Utility announced its plans to team with the Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) to produce a new work of public art that features STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) elements. 

What are your favorite murals around the city of Ocala?