Art on the Block is an initiative by Mayor Jane Castor that is envisioned to bring art and artists into the neighborhoods. The intent of this program is to make art accessible to all, encourage engagement and participation in improvements that come to one’s own neighborhood. The Art on the Block is a public private partnership. Projects are usually grassroots in nature, not typically high-budget, but frequently bring high impact results. In addition to working with the private sector, the program works across multiple city departments including the Arts & Cultural Affairs Division, Neighborhood Empowerment, Mobility, the Departments of Parks & Recreation and all Community Redevelopment Areas.
Artwork produced through Art on the Block is wide ranging and includes multiple art forms ranging from poetry and murals to mosaics, sculpture, and other placemaking improvements. Some artwork may be temporary, environmental in nature, or carry a message of social impact, while other artwork may be permanent. Art builds communities and for all Art on the Block projects, community engagement is essential. This program looks to strengthen citizenry by opening communication, creating better neighbors, building future art patrons and fostering visual literacy.
Artist Nneka Jones recently painted a mural at the Gwen Miller Community Center in the neighborhood of Woodland Terrace. The walls of the center face a basketball court as well as a walking trail and softball field, so the artist developed a sports-related design concept that reminds people to play, practice and persevere. The mural was completed in July and will be dedicated August 11th.
VIDEO Learn more about Nneka Jones, the Tampa-based multidisciplinary artist.
Trinidadian born artist Nneka Jones is a contemporary multidisciplinary artist who enjoys working in mixed media, embroidery, textiles and paint exploring both large-scale mural work and small-scale, intimate pieces. Since graduating from the University of Tampa in May 2020, Jones’ work has caught the eyes of Art directors in top publications like TIME where she was commissioned to produce the hand embroidered flag that appears on the cover of the August 31st/ September 7th 2020 issue. Learn more about the artist: https://www.artyouhungry.com/
The Poetry Post is a mobile public art project that encourages people from across the city to jot down a poem, short story or haiku then post it in the box. Anyone can submit their works as a part of this project that ties Tampa artists together.
The Poetry Post is a work of art itself. Designed by popular local artist, Eileen Goldenberg, the sculpture features her iconic whimsical layering and use of color. To make it even more special, Ms. Goldenberg’s design incorporates poems submitted by local poets that celebrate the history of Tampa and local landmarks like The Tampa Theatre and Hillsborough River. These particular poems were selected through the National Poetry Month poetry challenge last April, initiated by the City of Tampa Wordsmith, Gianna Russo.
The Poetry Post box can be found at the the Gwen Miller Community Center, located in Woodland Terrace Neighborhood at 6410 N 32nd St, Tampa, FL 33610.
R.I.C.H House at Robles Park Mural
-Artist Ya La' Ford worked with the youth who attend the RICH House at Robles Park to design a mural on the building. La'Ford worked with students and guided them through the process of designing and creating a mural. Her process strives to reinforce success, self-worth, love and hope, and the notion of how we are all connected. Completed October 2020.
In 2020, Mayor Castor appointed local writer, Gianna Russo as the City's Wordsmith. The Wordsmith project was implemented as part of Mayor Jane Castor’s Art on the Block program, with the mission of bringing art and artists into neighborhoods. The intent of this program is to make art accessible to all, engage and empower Tampa’s citizens and neighborhood through the written word expressed through poetry, creative writing and verse. Art builds communities and for all Art on the Block projects, community engagement is essential.
Since her appointment, Ms. Russo has worked on virtual community projects requesting submissions from the community through “Haiku from Home” and the “National Poetry Month contest.” She has also created a video to promote voting, with fellow poet and spoken word artist, Walter “Wally B” Jennings, and collaborated with Eileen Goldenberg on the Poetry Post mobile Public Art project.
In addition to writing poems inspired by certain Public Art Projects, like Ya La’Ford’s mural project at the RICH House, Russo is currently working on another virtual community project, asking for writings of gratitude, which will be launched the month of November in the spirit of Thanksgiving.
Mayor Castor's Crosswalks 2 Classrooms
- Artist Jay Giroux, of the Read Movement is currently painting a series of crosswalk murals at various schools that feature designs from popular children's books. Book titles are selected by each school. This project was funded in part by Jacobs. Schools include: Shaw, Edison, Forest Hills, Roosevelt, Broward and Mabry Elementary
image courtesy artist
Art on the Block Mural Day - Saturday, June 27, 2020
The City of Tampa commissioned local artists to paint five intersections throughout the City, with the intent of unity and inclusiveness. To date, more than a dozen street murals have been painted in the City of Tampa.
The City of Tampa is partnered with several local organizations to support this endeavor:
1. Downtown Black Lives Matter, East Cass Street & North Jefferson Street – Lead Artist: Illsol x The New Roots Collective managed by Reece Fernando Moore and Melvin Halsey, Jr. / Co-sponsored by the Tampa Downtown Partnership and Greenman-Pedersen, supported by volunteers from the Children’s Board and the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization
Participating artists include:
Melvin Halsey Jr.
Ron S. Dot
Reece Fernando Moore
2. Tampa Heights, North Franklin Street & West Henderson Avenue – Artist: Cam Parker / Co-sponsored by the Tampa Downtown Partnership and Tampa LGBT Chamber
3. West Tampa, Habana Avenue & West Tampa Bay Boulevard – Artist: Cecilia Lueza / Sponsored by the City of Tampa, Volunteers provided by the Our Aim Foundation
4. Westshore, West Laurel Street & North Grady Avenue – Artist: Anthony Freese / Sponsored by the Westshore Alliance
5. East Tampa, East 21st Avenue & North 15th Street – Artist: James Vann / Sponsored by the East Tampa CRA
The inaugural project for Art on the Block was a mural at Al Barnes Park, commissioned October 2019. This mural, painted by Tampa artists Tony and Junior Moore, is a tribute to Mr. Barnes, who was a beloved educator, mentor, coach and family man. VIDEO
The Art on the Block program works in partnership with the private sector and across multiple city departments including the Art Programs Division, Neighborhood Empowerment, the Departments of Parks & Recreation and Transportation and all Community Redevelopment Areas. Artwork produced through Art on the Block will include multiple art forms such as murals, mosaics, sculpture, placemaking improvements and other mixed media. Some artwork may be temporary, environmental in nature, or carry a message of social impact.
In bringing art to the neighborhoods, “by & with” the community and not in “service to”, this program looks to strengthen citizenry by opening communication, creating better neighbors, building future art patrons and fostering visual literacy, reducing prejudices through dialogue and opening minds and telling the stories of the neighborhood to keep their histories alive. The Initial goal is to complete two to three projects the first year; these will most likely city properties. A process is in development to work with private properties / businesses.