Drexel On The Road: Taking Art to the Streets

Drexel on the Road

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — In Pensacola, art is not just hanging on walls. It’s showing up on fences, buildings, and parking garages! It’s called public art and it’s becoming a Pensacola favorite.

“It changes people’s experience when they’re commuting in their daily life. It shows the vibrancy of the culture,” says Evan Levin who has been one of the biggest proponents of taking art to the streets.

The public art in Pensacola is at times beautiful, whimsical, and even thoughtful. It may be large, like the mural Levin and his fellow artist Ashton Howard painted on the Jefferson Street parking garage, or small like the images painted on parking meters or the mural Levin recently painted on Gulf Power utility box. Levin like the idea of turning things that are mundane into something memorable.

“Every wall is like a canvas to me, basically.”

About two dozen artists throughout Pensacola are making canvases of exterior building walls, busy intersections and fences. Whether they paint murals and make sculptures, whether the art is permanent like a statue or temporary like graffiti on Graffiti Bridge, art is front and center.

“It’s awesome. The artsy feel. It’s really nice,” says Len Gibbs, who works downtown and enjoys exploring the public art scene.

One of the largest and most popular displays of public art is CUBED. There are 3 cubes with 4 sides painted by 16 artists. CUBED made its debut at Foo Foo Fest, but has now found a permanent spot behind the T.T. Wentworth Museum. CUBED is part of the plethora of public art that’s exciting people like Grace Mallett, who is a recent college graduate now working in Pensacola.

”If you’re gonna grow more toward the young people, art has to be a really big part of it,” says Mallett.

Not anyone can just go start slapping paint on wall or fence. There are permissions to be granted by agencies and property owners. Levin says you need to obtain approval by a property owner if you are an artist proposing a mural or other project on their property. Then, depending on where the mural will be located, certain regulatory agencies have to sign off. For instance, in historic downtown Pensacola, the Architectural Review Board has to give the okay. Typically, says Levin, the agency and possibly the property owner, will want to see a proposal of the project and of past work the artist has done. And, it’s often more involved than a beginning artist might think.”

“It can be overwhelming if you’ve never done it before. You have to consider the size of the project, length of time it will take, the types of material you use on an outdoor canvas, etc.,” says Levin.

But all of the work is worth it to Levin and the other artists who are in on the public art movement.

“I think the way the city has been in its revitalization kind of brought about that energy where artists want to be a part of it.”

And, being a part of art is what the artists want you to be able to experience on what might otherwise be, just an ordinary day.

“We inspire each other and encourage each other to get out there and think outside the box.”

One of the most popular public art celebrations is headed to Pensacola in November. It’s called Foo Foo Fest. Check out their Facebook page for updates as the festival gets closer. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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