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Downtown Jacksonville Embracing Public Art

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Updated: 3/19/2013 7:02 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Downtown Jacksonville is getting another brush of color. Organizers hope projects like the one by Chamblin's Uptown Bookstore will brighten the city and bring in more visitors.

Local artist Shaun Thurston has been painting since he was a boy. So when he was given the chance to help revitalize downtown, he jumped at the opportunity. "It's a straight forward illustration of a fantasy scene of earth that's been displaced by buildings rising from below," he says.

Thurston was one of four artists in the running for the mural above Chamblin's Uptown Bookstore and Cafe on Laura Street. The mural is part of Downtown Vision's Laura Street Facade Grant Program. The Downtown Vision offers property owners on Laura Street a 50% matching grant up to $20,000 to make improvements that will beautify the street.
"Basically what were trying to do is create more of a cafe culture. Where people will come downtown will be sitting outside with tables and chairs will be enjoying the artwork and enjoying the downtown experience," says Downtown Vision Executive Director Terry Lorince.

Lorince says roughly 10-million people visit downtown every year, so she's hoping Thurston's mural along with sidewalk tables, chairs and colorful awnings.. will drive more business into downtown. "It isn't just to make a building look nice or a street look better but the economic health of the entire region," says Lorince. "The city can always use a little more color," says Thurston.

Thurston says he still has a little way to go on his mural. He expects to be done on Sunday. This is the first of four murals downtown. The others will be painted on the Yates Garage.

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