Project designed to draw attention to business district.
By Linda Haase
Special to The Palm Beach Post Northwood Village is about to become more colorful. This eclectic spot — which is determined to put itself on the not-to-be missed map — recently launched a public art mural project.
Infused with $10,000 from the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, the venture is designed to draw attention to the Northwood business district along Northwood Road and 24th and 25th Streets.
“Murals are so important to this creative arts district; they bring art into the public sphere and cities benefit by the beauty of a work of public art,” CRA Executive Director Jon Ward noted in a press release announcing the CRA’s launch of the project.
It will start with four murals created by local, regional and nationally known artists — and organizers hope — expand in the future.
“I want this project to beautify the neighborhood and bring art to everyday people. I also want to give artists an opportunity to show their work,” says West Palm Beach artist Eduardo Mendieta, project curator and manager. “I hope people will appreciate the murals and realize that you can transform a plain wall into a beautiful piece of art that will make an impact on the community, and I hope it will help bring more people to Northwood.”
Mendieta’s mural, “Plight of The Honeybees,” is infusing North-wood Village Community Garden (441 25th St.) with color — but it also has an important message.
“Honey bees are a very important part of nature. Not just for honey but pollination of flowers and many agricultural crops. For several years there has been an increase of a phenomenon in which worker bees from a European honey bee colony abruptly disappear,” explains Mendieta, who collaborated with West Palm Beach for its parking garage mural project and created murals for the XLVI Superbowl Indianapolis Mural Project and Art Basel week in Miami. “The front of the mural depicts bees getting pollen from sunflowers and towards the back will be open space with no bees and a silhouette of flowers with the pedals falling off.”
Artist Amanda Valdes, who is painting a mural at 444 25th St., says the opportunity to participate in the project is priceless. Her “Salt and Sirens of Northwood Lagoon” theme incorporates water elements and mermaids to highlight the area’s location close to the tropics.
“I hope the mermaids will create a little magic in the Northwood neighborhood and illuminate the location with bright maritime hues,” the Palm Beach Gardens resident wrote in her proposal. “My goal is to invigorate the space while helping to strengthen the community’s identity, stimulate imagination and encourage more social interaction in the surrounding areas.”
Artist Craig McInnis — who lives in North-wood — hopes his mural, “Metamorphosis,” will turn the vacant, drab 2,000-square-foot building at 2417 Spruce Ave. into something bold and beautiful and spark a similar metamorphosis in the area. “This is a tie-in to what I think is happening to the village, a metamorphosis. I hope to get a smile when people see it, to have their brain think metamorphosis, and relate it to the area. I also hope to show people that this is an area on the upswing,” he explains.
“My mural will be very colorful. My artwork is very bold, very eye-catching, no matter the subject matter.
Nick Arsali, who owns the building where McInnis’ mural is located, was thrilled when he was asked to participate in the project.
“It will beautify the area and whoever goes by will see a nice mural instead of concrete,” he says. “I saw it yesterday and it is looking very good.”
So far, the reaction has been positive, says McInnis. “When I’m working on it people come by and ask what is going on. It prompts a lot of curiosity.”
Those encounters give McInnis a chance to explain just what makes Northwood so special. “It has held on to a big chunk of history. The architecture is eclectic, and there is a wonderful Mom and Pop culture here.”
Those are some of the things Mendieta likes about the area, too. “Northwood is just getting started with lots of potential. It has a great mix of people, high-end and moderately priced restaurants, antique shops, a local art community, coffee shops, bars and galleries,” he says.
The first murals are just the beginning, he says. “The CRA has helped to start this project, but we’re going to need more funding to keep this mural project going and cover the neighborhood with beautiful murals. We will be looking for local businesses to sponsor murals by allowing us to paint their exterior walls and help with funding. We will also be organizing fundraisers and other activities to get the public involved.”
DAMON HIGGINS / THE PALM BEACH POST