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352WALLS Project Adds Culture And Inspiration To City

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Twenty-two artists, eighteen murals and hundreds of gallons of paint.

Gainesville’s inaugural urban art initiative has come to an end, and with it, the city celebrated a renewed sense of culture and pride.

The 352WALLS/The Gainesville Art Initiative hosted 13 regional artists and 9 international artists to paint outdoor murals on signature buildings throughout  Gainesville in efforts to boost tourism, promote economic development and raise the city’s profile as an cultural destination for urban art and experience.

What this means is the next time you swing by your local frame shop or visit your local watering hole, you could be raising your cultural awareness through international art and design.

Despite some initial bumps and bruises, project founder and curator, Iryna Kanishcheva, said the first year was a success.

“This is bigger than any one mural; the city is our canvas,” Kanishcheva said.

Russell Etling, cultural affairs interim manager for the city of Gainesville, said the murals provide a spiritual quality to Gainesville.

Get to Know a Few of the Artists

2Alas, a painting duo of Andrew Antonaccio and Filio Galvez, created a mural on the Hector Gallery wall downtown. Originally from Miami, they are gaining fame for their geometric art pieces that look different as the viewer approaches the artwork.  2Alas was able to work through the night by using a projector to project an image onto the wall and painting on the lines of the shadows.

Franco Fasoli, a.k.a. “Jaz” is an international artist from Buenos Aires, Argentina, who painted a mural at the Shadow Health Inc. on 1st Ave. Fasoli said his interest in painting public spaces was natural because both of his grandfathers were artists. His involvement in the skateboard and biking scene in Buenos Aires in the ’90s enticed him to start doing graffiti. Fasoli said graffiti was a means of rebellion in his art education. Now he works with more colors and more methodically.

“I like also that idea of no control,” Fasoli said.

Pastel, 29, is a self-taught international artist from Buenos Aires. Pastel said he taught himself how public spaces work and how people interact with them. Pastel spent over a week painting his two-part mural on the side of The Top restaurant downtown.

“I think that the ability to develop a mural festival in Gainesville, in a place like Gainesville, is something super interesting because it means our work can adapt, manifest itself wherever it wants, and be recognized as another element of both culture [and] that which makes up a city,” said Pastel.

Pastel said he never thought of painting, but after studying to become an architect, he found that his education merged well with his hobby of painting in public spaces. He said there is often too much concrete in developing spaces, and through painting he can create new forms of architecture with a paintbrush.

Evoca1 is a Dominican artist based out of Miami, FL. He’s been fascinated with art since he was a child when he used to draw in his notebook where he took class notes. Now, he’s taking his art from his spiral notebook and turning them into majestic murals on walls. Evoca1 has been painting murals for five years. He was first inspired by artists’ murals from the past. Given the opportunity to paint on walls of buildings, he’s working on a series of pieces called, “Through The Perils Of Our Youth.” The piece illustrates getting through childhood and letting go of past experiences. Evoca1 said his work is a like a metaphor of what goes on in everyday life events.

Moving Forward

Using this year’s event as a learning experience, Kanishcheva said they want to make this event ongoing, inviting artists from other countries to come paint murals in Gainesville as the months continue.

“This is going to be an ongoing project,” said Raquel Vallejo, cultural programs coordinator for 352 WALLS. “They [the artists] had a great experience. I think it was very enriching.”

Vallejo said that the murals have already generated positive phone calls and more foot traffic from the public.

Phase two of the event will begin on January 11 with a painting duo from Ukraine working on a mural at the Market Street Pub.

About Destiny Johnson

Destiny is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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