Public Art Around the Downtown District

Posted: Sep 19, 2018 3:41 PMUpdated: Nov 26, 2018 3:58 PM
Downtown Pensacola has become a beacon for local artists looking to make a visual and cultural impact in their community. The historic buildings and picturesque landscapes allow our cultural hub to celebrate artwork in many different forms. Discover the galleries, murals, and public art projects that provide a modern twist to “Florida’s Greatest Place.”
As you walk down Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza, you’ll come across the 9/11 Homage to America; a sculpture designed by Peter King and Xinia Marin as a memorial to the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Further south in the historic district of downtown Pensacola, you’ll find a set of murals displaying antique ships at a Pensacola dock outside the Voices of Pensacola Multicultural Center and a painting of a horse-drawn steam-pumping engine with firefighters on the side of the Quayside Gallery, similar to the one housed by the building in the late 1800s when it was used as the headquarters for the Germania Steam Fire Engine and Hose Company. Further north, you can enjoy the bright, whimsical street art lining the walls of the First City Art Center, painted as part of the annual Foo Foo Festival, which celebrates local art, music and culture.

Spread throughout downtown Pensacola are numerous painted parking meters. These repurposed meters are a great example of painting with a purpose as part of the Better Way to Give project created by the Greater Pensacola Chamber Foundation’s Leadership Pensacola (LeaP) Class of 2016. The project involved recycling obsolete parking meters — which were then painted by local artists and local businesses — to provide an alternative to giving directly to homeless people living on the streets. Throughout the downtown area you’ll also find many colorful five-foot tall pelicans. The Pelicans in Paradise project was dreamed up and organized by the Pensacola News Journal as a way to celebrate local art and culture in a fun, fresh way. See how many you can spot on your next downtown visit.

As you head further west, you can enjoy the ever-changing Graffiti Bridge located on N. 17th Avenue. The old railroad overpass is constantly transformed by locals and visitors alike as a living canvas to express inspiration, love and creativity. The unique structure is a daily reminder of the importance of free expression.

In the historic Belmont-Devilliers district,  you’ll find various works from local artist Carter J. Gaston, whose brightly painted murals depict many of the area’s well-known residents and landmarks. The self-proclaimed “world’s best live portrait artist” once spent a week painting local African-American leaders including Gen. Daniel “Chappie” James Jr., the nation’s first black four-star general; Dr. John Sunday, a trail-blazing legislator and James Polkinghorne, Jr among many other important historic and cultural figures.
“It’s great to see public art inspiring more artistic projects that reflect the city’s future while showcasing our rich history,” said local artist Evan Levin. In 2016, Levin partnered with Ashton Howard to paint the colorful 3,000 sq. ft. Jefferson Street Mural that illustrates Pensacola’s iconic history. A year later, the duo returned with CUBED; a 12-day mural installation with a live public art performance featuring 16 local artists transforming their works into four 8'x8' cubes. The colorful works of art can now be viewed at the UWF Historic Trust Museum Plaza located behind the T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum.
A new public art installment will debut at this year’s Foo Foo Fest. CUBED Luminous is a 4 day (and night) outdoor digital art festival consisting of a 12ft x 18ft LED cube and 16 laser projectors projecting on four 8ft x 8ft cubes located at the UWF Historic Trust Museum Plaza from November 8-11, 2018. This digital art festival, curated by the Pensacola Museum of Art, will also feature music with a mix of DJ sets and live music performances from local and regional bands as well as a Makers City Marketplace and food trucks.
Join us in downtown Pensacola to enjoy the many examples of public art and be sure to return for the highly anticipated CUBED Luminous 2018 event from Nov. 8-11. You can also join us for one special Friday every month on Palafox as we take art to the streets for Gallery Night. Downtown galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and bars open their doors to the night air as visitors and locals flood the streets to enjoy music, art and cuisine.