Local artists Jesus and Carrie Martinez are painting a mural on High Dive’s Second Avenue wall – the wall’s first mural since the 1990s.
“Gainesville is in the middle of a big change. It’s cleaning itself up a little, and we want to be part of that,” said Pat Lavery, owner of Glory Days Presents!, the venue and event management company for High Dive.
High Dive, located downtown at 210 SW 2nd Ave., has been working on upgrades since August 2014, but improvements in lighting, sound, seating, painting, flooring and more have sped up in the last six months.
“Our goal is to be one of top venues of its size in all of Florida,” Lavery said.
Down-tempo electronica music set the mood as husband and wife Jesus and Carrie Martinez continued work on the mural Monday. Although it looks complete to the untrained eye, the painters expect to be working on the mural throughout the week.
The artists have spent four to nine hours a day for more than a week climbing atop the scaffolding and perfecting every detail.
Carrie Martinez previously worked with High Dive doing live art during Art Attack, one of the art shows it hosts. Jesus Martinez painted a mural at the venue’s newly improved beer garden in early January.
Now, the Martinezes host shows at Visionary Crossfit, the gym/gallery they own, and volunteer creating public art. They have collaborated on five murals in Gainesville.
“We’re doing this as a gift to the Gainesville community,” Carrie Martinez said.
Their next mural will be at The Jones at 203 SW 2nd Ave.
A passerby stopped to take photos on Monday, and Carrie Martinez greeted him as she worked on the mural. She’s used to people stopping for a look.
“You meet so many people in the community and the response is phenomenal,” she said. “You really connect with people on a far broader scale than being in the gallery.”
Lavery wanted a painting that represented the community, Carrie Martinez said, so the couple set out to create a mural that captured the spirit of Gainesville.
The mural’s oak trees and Spanish moss frame the painted face of Myra Terwilliger Elementary School teacher, Stephanie Lee, who works out at the Martinezes’ gym/gallery.
After wanting to paint Lee for some time, Carrie Martinez saw her opportunity when Lavery asked the couple to paint the mural.
“When Jesus and Carrie asked me to be the face of the mural, I felt so honored,” Lee said. “I have so much admiration and respect for them as artists and as people.”
Lee’s face alone took five days to paint.
“I knew she was local and could walk by and see herself so I was like, ‘I got to get it right,’” Carrie Martinez joked.
Local artist Tim Malles, whose astronomy-based art has been featured at the Florida Museum of Natural History, joined the couple this week to paint the mural’s galaxy – which is situated between the woman’s hands.
“As [Jesus and Carrie] put it, I will ‘forever be immortalized in Gainesville,'” Lee said, “the place that I cherish so deeply.”
Carrie Martinez said they chose Lee because of her exotic look – a nod to the diverse crowd High Dive attracts.
The venue’s history covers a wide variety of genres with past performances from names like Green Day, Nine Inch Nails and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.
“It’s such an eclectic venue,” Carrie Martinez said. “They have everything from hip-hop to country.”
Country music star Kenny Chesney performed a charity show when the venue was named Common Grounds years ago when Tim Tebow attended UF.
“Tim and a lot of the UF players were in attendance,” Lavery said.
Now, Lavery is preparing to bring in New Orleans rapper Curren$y on Thursday. The venue hosts national touring acts on a regular basis, including Waka Flocka Flame in February and of Montreal in March.
The mural was one of the finishing touches along with a lighted marquee announcing the venue’s upcoming shows.
While the mural should be complete by the end of the week and the marquee is expected in the coming weeks, more improvements are in the works for the dive bar – including launching a website that’s mobile-optimized.
The venue’s staff recently lined the western wall of the showroom with reclaimed heart pine wood from the Gainesville Dojo, which was torn down in April just down the street from High Dive. Lavery said they also plan on lining the eastern wall of the showroom with the reclaimed wood.
High Dive’s general manager, Andy Robinson, completed most of the renovations by hand.
“We will always be that cozy little ‘dive bar’ where you go to see your favorite bands, but we strive to do this on the highest of levels,” Lavery said.