Walking around Bradenton is getting a little more interesting all the time.
Realize Bradenton is in the midst of a project that will enhance the downtown area with public art, from a mural to street art to panels.
They’re designed to encourage people to walk around downtown and the Village of the Arts. Eventually, the public art project will tie into a new interactive website that will help locals and visitors get the most out of their trips downtown.
“There’s a health element to it,” said Johnette Isham, the executive director of Realize Bradenton. “Walking is good for health, and walking is good for commerce.”
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You may have noticed some of the public art creations already. The first was the mural on the parking garage on 12th Street West, just south of Manatee Avenue.
The second, completed in the very early hours of Tuesday morning, is an abstract design on the street, at the intersection of 12th Avenue West and Ninth Street West. Local artists Felici Asteinza and Joey Fillastre, who call themselves the Milagros Collective, worked through the night to create the geometric pattern at the entrance of the Village of the Arts.
“I think it’s really cool,” said Eileen Van Lieshout, the owner of eileenVLpottery in the Village of the Arts. “I like how it kind of ties the Village of the Arts and downtown together. When people come from the Farmers Market or anything on Old Main Street, they can see the entrance to the Village of the Arts. They’re making it more appealing to walk around downtown.”
And on Wednesday, Isham and other Realize Bradenton officials uncrated four ceramic panels, created by artists from around the area, that will be installed at the Manatee Performing Arts Center, at O’bricks on Old Main Street, at the west side of the historic Manatee County Courthouse and at the South Florida Museum.
The panels, which are meant to complement the “Postcards from the Friendly City” panels that line the Bradenton Riverwalk, will be installed over the next week or two, Isham said. The exact timeline depends on whether there are underground pipes or electrical wires in the planned locations for the installations.
There are already dozens of pieces of public art around the downtown area. Realize Bradenton has counted 52. So these additional six — the four panels, the mural and the street art — are strategically placed in areas that don’t compete with existing public art displays.
“We’re adding art to places where it was kind of a visual desert,” Isham said.
After the artwork is installed, Realize Bradenton will unveil its new interactive website that will use GPS to guide visitors through all the public art pieces — both the recently installed ones and the existing works — as well as downtown restaurants, bars, historic sites and cultural establishments.
“The GPS-enabled website will identify more than 58 pieces of public art, 25 historical sites, and 145 places to eat, play, and stay, and guides users with their smart phone to explore these downtown assets,” Isham said.
The plan is to have the website up and running in early April.