Central Tampa News
Nebraska Ave. coming under Urban Art Attack’
SEMINOLE HEIGHTS - A mural on the outside wall of Southern Brewing & Winemaking will be part of an effort to bring something new to Nebraska Avenue: art and beauty. Artwork of all kinds — murals, sculptures, sidewalk art and performance art — is planned along Nebraska and, eventually, other public places in the neighborhood. The Seminole Heights Art Partners recently announced the launch of the “Urban Art Attack.” The group is recruiting artists, and area businesses, including Southern Brewing, Reservations Gourmet to Go and Ella’s Folk Americana Café are participating. Ella’s art will be at an annex building near the café. “We want to make the neighborhood an art destination with public art and interactive art,” said Sherry Genovar-Simons, president of the Southeast Seminole Heights Civic Association. But, she said, “You can’t do it all at once.”The plan is to support a handful of early artworks at area businesses, show it can be done and move on from there. The art partners initially are focusing on Nebraska from Hillsborough Avenue to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. And, for now, residents and business owners who formed the art partners group are providing seed money for the art. The group has collaborated with the nonprofit Seminole Heights Foundation so that donations to support the group’s longer-range mission can be tax-deductible. The foundation also can help seek grants. Fundraisers also will be scheduled. “We’re hoping it will add some intrigue and draw to the neighborhood,” said Kelly Fenstermacher, co-owner of Southern Brewing. “It could encourage people to travel and see Nebraska as a place more inviting to pedestrians.” An artist will be selected, and work at Southern Brewing could begin in coming weeks. The art project is being started as city officials are seeking ideas on a redesigned Nebraska Avenue corridor. But Genovar-Simons said those plans are mostly long-range. “We need a more grass-roots movement that happens this year, not five or 10 or 20 years,” she said. “I live here now and these businesses are here now. If we can’t figure out how to support them they’ll go away.” Genovar-Simons began talking about the art project about one year ago. She takes photographs of cities she visits and makes note of public art. “I was just really struck by what a difference it made and showed the community coming together as a whole,” she said. “I thought we just have to do this.” She enlisted Deming, and then others joined. Although the focus now is on a segment of Nebraska, anyone may bring a project to the group which would serve as liaison between the artist and business owner, Genovar-Simons said. One idea is to work on art with area schoolchildren. Another possibility would be community-wide “art days” with residents creating the art. “We want to reach out into other parts of Seminole Heights,” she said. For information, visit the website, www.urbanartattack.org.