Under the Bridge

AL8_2079-CMYK//photo by Agnes Lopez

A 64-foot concrete wall under the Main Street Bridge sat untouched until the Art In Public Places committee selected Kate Garcia Rouh and Kenny Rouh's idea for the space: a mosaic mural which depicts the twists and turns of the St. Johns River from Lake Okeechobee to Mayport Village.

“That space was pretty much a waste. It was a place people thought was foreboding, and they would hesitate to walk down there,” Kenny says. “So the mural serves more than just beauty.”

The artists and 71 volunteers took 42 days to cover the wall in pieces of mirror, glass and ceramic tiles and river rocks to create the work of art. On June 2, the Cultural Council officially dedicated the piece as the 67th in its public art collection: Mirrored River: Where Do You See Yourself?

“Mirror is a reflection. It forces people to confront themselves,” says Kenny. “It was natural to say, well, where are you? Not only physically in front of this mural, but your involvement with the river. Are you a good steward? Do you litter? Are you careful with what you do to the environment? Because in Jacksonville it all flows to the river.”

In January, City Council passed the “Art on Unoccupied Structures” bill, which allows for art in the Urban Core landscape—on Skyway supports, vacant business façades and utility boxes. The Art in Public Places committee has been tasked with choosing and funding more projects, and will call for artists to submit proposals for them in the coming months. The Water Street parking garage is the next blank canvas.

“We’re going to be seeing a lot of public art coming Downtown in the near future,” says Cultural Council communications manager Daniel Austin. “It’s an exciting time.” culturalcouncil.org