Florida Top 10 Urban Art Destinations: Virtual Exhibition

The “virtual reality” type of exhibition is especially relevant amid forced social distancing.  Relatively new systems based on synthesized imagery techniques, give people the feeling of entering real galleries while walking computer-generated cyber-spaces. Similarly to playing video games, you can control the “game” pushing on arrow keys or the mouse to move around. Click on artwork on the wall or in the catalog to see it closer.  In collaboration with Hector Framing & Gallery, GNV URBAN ART has curated an exhibition to introduce the urban art scene of 10 selected destinations in Florida.

Hector Framing & Gallery, 702 W University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601

Hector Framing & Gallery, a locally owned and operated business that serves Gainesville’s community for over 25 years, hand-crafted custom frames for our photographs. Even during unprecedented times, the gallery provides custom services via private appointments and implementing safety practices to keep our community and beloved artists creative. In combination with a virtual space, we simulated the interactive experience of a real-life visit until the physical visits become safe and possible.

“Iryna Kanishcheva can be described as one of the most devoted ambassadors of the current urban art movement. In the years I’ve had the pleasure of working with Iryna, she has traveled the world in search of the latest urban “buzz”, renegade artists shaping the scene of a movement which has transformed the art market…

2Alas, Gainesville. Hector Framing & Gallery

…Our first venture, a commissioned mural by the world-renowned duo, 2Alas, composed at the time of Andrew Antonaccio & Filio Galvez. Iryna had suggested the artists to me for a mural on the side of my gallery in Gainesville, FL. Now, years later, the 2Alas mural has become a staple in my city, often used as the background for countless model photoshoots and film.” – Hector Puig, the Owner of Hector Framing & Gallery.

Hector Framing & Gallery Presents 

Formerly known as graffiti, today’s paintings on walls are an integral element of contemporary and public art. Forward-thinking cities are showing their support for urban arts through mural projects. Why? Because murals are accessible, free of charge, revitalize urban spaces, attract cultural tourists, and inspire dialogues.

With a goal to position Florida as a diverse contemporary cultural destination and promote local art entities, Iryna Kanishcheva of GNV URBAN ART traveled to multiple sites and selected 26 photographs from the top 10 Florida destinations representing their urban identity.

GNV URBAN ART: Florida Top 10 Urban Art Destinations is a tourism development multi-site project supported by the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs grant awarded to Iryna Kanishcheva through an open call and competition. Iryna developed a project that aims to increase awareness of mural programs administered by both, cultural affairs and private initiatives. Accessibility to information provides more opportunities to regional artists and inspire action.

Click on the link to see the video of the virtual exhibition. Photo-collection covers 15 cities and 9 counties in Florida. These include:

Alachua: Gainesville and Alachua
Broward: Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, and Oakland Park
Duval: Jacksonville
Hillsborough: Tampa
Miami-Dade: Miami Indoor and Outdoor
Orange: Orlando
Palm Beach: West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, and Delray Beach
Pinellas: St. Petersburg 
Sarasota: Sarasota and Venice

Of course, impossible to demonstrate all the Florida murals, but we tried to focus on the most interesting, best promoted on the media, painted in most visible places and generally accessible to a random street art tourist (either because of the address published online, an article, or the artist’s popularity).

Hula, West Palm Beach. Canvas Outdoor Museum

Motivated by the challenge of finding the best urban artworks in Florida and highlight the background of the projects, we established valuable connections with artists and organizers while interviewing them. The project helped us to build a new professional network. Florida’s diverse arts and culture are a prime reason to visit the Sunshine State. Florida’s tourism industry is one of the largest in the nation. The Division of Cultural Affairs assists cultural organizations in finding new ways to collaborate with the tourism industry and supports them with their grant programs.

Building The Economy

The difference between a cultural tourist and a local aesthets is the fact that these individuals travel to a destination for a specific purpose staying overnight in a hotel or even visiting with friends and family before returning back to their original location. The appeal for destinations to attract tourists, particularly cultural tourists, is the new money infused into the local economy, generating both jobs and additional tax revenue.

According to Americans for the Arts, a 2013 report from Mandala Research, LLC, 76 percent of all U.S. leisure travelers engage in cultural activities. The size of the market is estimated at 129.6 million adults in the U.S. spending approximately $171 billion annually. Cultural tourists spend 60% more per trip than those that do not take part in cultural activities.  These visitors also stay longer and take more trips per year. Cultural tourists represent a market to be tapped to generate new audiences and new income. This economic activity supports 4.6 million full-time jobs and generates $49.4 billion in resident household income.

Shepard Fairey, Miami. The RAW Project

The GNV URBAN ART: Florida Top 10 Urban Art Destinations project informs readers about existing contemporary art projects in Florida encouraging them to find them on their own. Everybody loves murals and selfies. People who technically can and plan to accomplish a trip will be guided where to go and what to see besides classical landmarks. This will make them stay longer and spend more money supporting local businesses. The taxes will go to the city budget and will form new grants and opportunities for art programs.

Promoting Healthy and Vibrant Communities

Public art is a model that uses community engagement and artistic principles to empower communities and promote healthy and culturally active lifestyles. The intent of the Florida Top 10 Urban Art intervention is to build communities’ capacity to implement more contemporary ideas and raise awareness about relevant topics. Public art spurs conversations and helps to build healthy networks to address social issues.

Advancing a sense of place and identity, the exhibition includes 1-2 photographs from each city or county representing the urban art identity. The selection is based on several criteria: technical quality, meaning and message behind, aesthetic, and relevance.

Collaboration, Jacksonville

We would prefer you, the reader to rate  TOP 10 Urban Art Destinations from 1 to 10. From our perspective, we would like to highlight Miami as an international art fair with the biggest amount of mural projects arranged using a very small budget or at extremely high expense. SHINE St. Petersburg Mural Festival is the most community-centered while Broward County provides the best funding for public art projects. Established in the same year of 2015, three programs SHINE, Canvas and 352walls have a different outcome. Sarasota is a pioneer in urban art projects, always inventing something new. Tampa has a great underground urban art scene – quiet, not making a lot of noise – combining a variety of styles in mural production. And Orlando is “catching up” inspired by individuals and privately organized projects. The City of Kissimmee recently partnered with Osceola Arts releasing a brand new artistic endeavor, the inaugural ARTisNOW public murals project which, undoubtedly, will inspire more urban movement in the are. Many other small cities in Florida are planning on implementing their own mural programs.

Jade, St. Petersburg. SHINE on St. Petersburg Mural Festival

From our observation, the distribution of mural programs declines from South to North. Miami is an urban art epicenter. Probably due to Miami Art Week and Art Basel, artists are easily accessible for mural programs nearby. Additionally, big cities have axсes of new constructions and established percent-for-art programs that require a certain percentage of the cost on large-scale development projects to be allocated to fund and install public art.

We tried to highlight both city and private commissions. While private projects are easy-going, fast, contemporary, often experimental, and innovative, they often repeat the same line-up of artists. For example, pretty similar “signature” murals depicting metallic figures by Puerto Rican artist Bik Ismo appear in Miami, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, and Gainesville. The city commissions, on the other hand, are well-organized, well-funded, and reflect historical and local stories that create a distinct sense of place. They often “employ” local artists recruited through open calls. For street art hunters, though, unknown names and local historical subjects do not represent much of interest.  Mixed projects and diverse programs represent the true urban art identity, demonstrating openness, novel ideas, quality, community support, and place-specific stories.

Bik Ismo, Miami. The RAW Project

“This exhibit brings forth a glimpse of Iryna’s photographic abilities to capture the scale, beauty and complexity of some of her projects over the years. Her passion is evident in the work; an eclectic selection of urban artists carefully curated by Kanishcheva, fully maximizing the artists’ inspiration by methodically searching the perfect wall for each piece. Many cities all over the world have contacted Iryna for this specific ability; in the process, she has achieved an amazing array of murals executed by artists worthy of notice. It is with a great sense of satisfaction and pride that I present this latest exhibition. I’d like to thank Iryna for trusting us with this project and encourage anyone interested in this genre to contact Ms. Kanishcheva; I can attest, there is much to learn from this fascinating woman.” – Hector Puig, the Owner of Hector Framing & Gallery.

Peeta, Gainesville. A project of GNV URBAN ART LLC

Similarly to physical exhibitions, our online show Florida Top 10 Urban Art Destinations, is restricted by time. The images are on display from May 1 to May 30, 2020, open 24 hours a day. Read our independent review about MiamiFort LauderdaleSt. Petersburg,  The Palm Beaches, Tampa, and Sarasota. Orlando, Jacksonville, and Gainesville are coming soon. Stay tuned!

If you wish to learn more urban art destinations in Florida, we encourage you to visit Florida Mural Trail. If you are interested in a physical exhibition that highlights YOUR city or public art program, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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