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Village of the Arts – Top 12

This Good News Story written by Jamey Hitchcock is a Realize Bradenton production funded by the Knight Donor Advised Fund at the Manatee Community Foundation.

A city lined with concrete business fronts, bumper-to-bumper traffic and an increasing level of noise pollution isn’t really indicative of a melting pot of artistic expression. So one has to travel beyond the reaches of the modern day metropolitan craziness to really enjoy the niche areas of life.

Imagine an entire community whereas an artist you can live and breathe your artwork right at your doorstep. The Village of the Arts (VOTA) is a vibrant, engaging atmosphere that creates an inviting scene in Bradenton which is truly unique.

Meet Mary Fragapane, owner of “The Dude and Mary’s Art of Life & Music,” 1414 11th Street West, who has spent the last five years with her husband, Chad Clifford, dedicating their lives to the Village of the Arts. Both have searched high and low for the perfect area to spread their love of art and music to the community, knowing it could change lives and bring the community together.

Fragapane finds her creativeness in everyday household items and will find her inspiration for her next art piece from an item she finds that day, and she calls this assemblage art. Her work also includes fine and fun art, as well as diverse gift items displayed in her gallery. Today, she continues to work on large scale murals and public art that has been displayed nationally and internationally.

Clifford plays the upright bass with The Divebombers. Checkout their work here: If you want to see a glimpse of Clifford’s work, stop by the gallery during business hours, you might run into the Dude playing his bass in the magic garden.

A community within walking distance of downtown Bradenton holds so much history and value to the growing city. Fragapane and her husband have been able to create music and public art the community can get excited about, draw people together and take pride in their city.

“Living and working in the Village of the Arts is better than we could have imagined and aligns perfectly with our mission — to live a life centered around creativity and the free expression of that creativity,” Fragapane said.

Walking the streets of VOTA is an interactive experience on its own. You can look at a mailbox or a telephone pole and there will be some form of art painted on them. People decorate their homes with vibrant colors and designs and it draws you in from the moment you step foot into the Village.

“The artists living and working here have the freedom to let creativity reign and spill out into the public realm,” Fragapane said. “So you have this mix of large scale professionally commissioned work right next to an art installation that is a simple representation of what that particular artist is inspired by in that moment.

As a newcomer to the Bradenton, this is an opportunity to explore downtown, grab dinner and drinks and venture towards VOTA for dessert at the Arte Caffé Italian Bakery and Market, 930 12th Street West, where you can meet the owners Remo and Meredith Mambelli.

The Mambelli’s bring a tatse of Italy to the Village of the Arts and have incorporated Remo’s mother’s recipes that he grew up learning in Italy. Take a chance and check out this hiddem gem along with all of the other small, local businesses of VOTA!

Why We Love This City Bradenton has everything to do with how we can create a community for those who live here and those who visit. The people connect with the art and the artists of VOTA because of the hospitality and the open doors that connect everyone. You can find art shows on the weekends as well as specials every day from local restaurants and cafes along with music filling the streets.

This post is part of the Top 12 Reasons We Love This City series. Read more here.

This post is part of the Top 12 Reasons We Love This City series. Read more here.

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