Painting the Town: Gainesville Artists Aim to Beautify City’s Blank Canvases


Local artist Alex Mathia knew Gainesville’s Southwest Downtown Parking Garage needed a makeover.

“I feel like this project kinda represents hope for the community,” Mathia said. “I wanted that to come through in the work.”

Alex Mathia works on her mural, which depicts faces. (Casana Fink / WUFT News)

Mathia and 41 other artists from all over town came together Tuesday to give the garage a colorful facelift. The painting of the five-floor garage was organized by the Urban Revitalization Project, an organization that focuses on beautifying the overlooked parts of the community.

“Some buildings in the community have not been touched in decades,” program director Guido Montenegro said. “This is our community, our artists. This is us; this is Gainesville.”

The project began with no funding, but businesses in Gainesville have donated a majority of the money and supplies needed to make the project a success.

Each artist has their own unique story. Some have a wide variety of professional experience, others are simply lifelong doodlers. The artists have invested their own money, time and talent into the project. Mathia spent most of her week working on her mural, and she even spent the night in the garage devoting those hours to making her vision come to life.

The goal of the Urban Revitalization Project is to bring happiness to the community on a daily basis, repurposing blank walls all over the city. The Southwest Downtown project aims to cover every inch of the garage with art, painting murals floor by floor.

They plan to finish the first floor by the end of March and then move on to the next floor, in an effort to beautify another one of Gainesville’s concrete canvases.

About Casana Fink

Casana is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing

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“Gainesville is a very open community,” Katy Lemle, the association’s gallery director and operations manager, said. “The GFAA has been historically ‘white,’ we realized that, and we are taking steps to welcome artists from all different backgrounds.”