LAKELAND, Fla. — The city of Lakeland hopes to brighten up its downtown in 2021 with the Dixieland Art Infusion. The grant program is designed to team up local artists with business owners to create large public murals.
“I think it’s great for a local downtown to start getting on that bandwagon and creating some charm and making it a destination for the arts,” said artist Kate Hall, who calls Lakeland her hometown.
Low Country Vintage, on Florida Avenue, will soon be the backdrop for a 100-foot-long, 25-foot-wide creation called “Crape Myrtle Blossoms.” It will be the largest mural Kate has ever painted.
“Her business is all about antiques and southern charm, and what better flower to better represent that than the Crape Myrtle Blossoms,” said Hall. “I feel like the art has the opportunity to reach all kinds of people who normally wouldn’t have a conversation. It brings people together. It transcends language.”
Allyson Bar, the owner of Low Country Vintage, said she’s been thinking about adding something new to attract customers. She said Kate’s vision was the perfect fit.
“She was able to come in, get to know me, and then come up with art that she felt would fit me, my personality, where I’m from and what I do, which I find amazing,” said Barr.
The city hopes this partnership between businesses and artists is just the beginning. They plan to fund more than 40 public art displays up and down South Florida Avenue through the grant.
“We actually worked with an architect last year to document every single building along this corridor, so we know all the available spaces,” said Damaris Stull, with the Lakeland Community Redevelopment Agency.
Starting in February, artists, businesses and property owners are being asked to sign up at lakelandcra.net.
“Artists are going to submit a proposal or a portfolio of their work for the business owners to select from,” said Stull.