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.
Through murals, sculptures and functional art throughout downtown Bradenton, the community has seen the growth of art from seven to 67 pieces in the last nine years with the support of the Realize Bradenton team.
Realize Bradenton is in the public art business, because of its involvement in local business and to help ensure the area is aesthetically pleasing through economic growth and development.
Jodi Carroll, special projects manager at Realize Bradenton, focuses on the development of the public art.
“Art connects a diverse population and a diverse group of people with diverse thoughts,” she said. “Some people like sculptures or murals that tell a story and it’s important to have a collection of varied resources for a diverse taste that attracts cultural tourism.”
The seven pieces of art that began in 2010 has expanded to over 67 pieces through funding from the government, local businesses and the Knight Donor Advised Fund at the Manatee Community Foundation. Since the creation of The Riverwalk, the community has seen the value of how art can attract people to the city and create a sense of identity.
“The goal is a walkability connection amongst The Village of the Arts, to downtown and then to The Riverwalk,” Carroll said. “This happens through the placement of the art of all along the way. The continuity of the art throughout the city allows for people to keep walking and discover more. You can put on 10,000 steps by walking from The Riverwalk all the way to the Village of the Arts, seeing neat art and come across some great shops and restaurants. That’s what walkability is all about.”
Realize Bradenton is constantly focused on involving the community and public art has been integral to this goal.
An example is Court House Memories, a featured postcard art piece adjacent to the courthouse, created by Regan Dunnick, illustrator and professor at Ringling College of Art and Design. The law office of J. Grimes Goebel Grimes & Hawkins sponsored the piece which focuses on what they do as a law firm and supports the importance of public art.
Carroll commented on her favorite art piece, one she was significantly involved in and that she believes truly reflects the culture of downtown Bradenton.
“The Magic River is the mosaic affixed to the new City of Bradenton parking garage,” she said. “An 125-foot mosaic mural created by the artist James Simon, a worldwide known sculpture and mosaic artist. He worked with the public art committee to create the subject matter to reflect the City of Bradenton and it was assembled and created in Pittsburgh. He drove all the way here and assembled the individual pieces on to the wall of the parking garage.”
Realize Bradenton did a Riverwalk extension community engagement two years ago and found that public art was ranked in the top four of attractions people wanted to see while in the area. A great example has been Realize Bradenton’s new Children’s book created to reflect the history of Bradenton, “Old Manatee A to Z.” Part of The Riverwalk expansion has reading areas that use the illustrations from the book as public art post cards displayed in the area. It’s not only public art, but a chance to engage families in the community.
Continue to read more about “Old Manatee A to Z” with this link, and to view more about the public art in Bradenton, follow this link.
This post is part of the Top 12 Reasons We Love This City series. Read more here.