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One woman championed street art to beautify a neighborhood in our own city.

This past week has made me so grateful for my house.

Here in Gainesville, it’s been either a storm or a sizzling sun, so being inside my walls is about the only way to survive.

As grateful as I am for the shelter, the walls of my house are more than just shelter. They’re filled with photos and inspiration, turning my house into a home.

The walls of a city are actually not much different.

A city’s walls can help celebrate its stories and also bring beauty to the people in it.

Art by Nicole Holderbaum and Martin Torres

We believe that everyone’s story is worth telling and remembering, and we also care a lot about Gainesville. So when I had the chance to have Fracture help with a local campaign to add several large murals to the heart of our own city, I just couldn’t turn it down.

At the heart of this whole campaign is Iryna Kanishcheva. She’s the founder of Grove Street Neighborhood, a community project that aims to beautify and revitalize the historic, inner city of Gainesville.

The project, co-founded with Maria Huff Edwards, was awarded a 2018 City Beautification Board Award and a Public Spaces Award for Community Enhancement.

Iryna Kanishcheva

How did it start?

The whole thing started back in December 2016 with one big, plain, molding wall off of 10th Avenue. It was then that Haven Hospice, the company who owns the building, gave permission for a mural to be placed there.

Why take on a project like this?

“I wanted to create something beautiful for these enthusiastic people who helped to clean and prepare the wall and the entire seemingly abandoned area. I loved the spirit and the intent behind this project! It became important for me to unite many great creative people of Gainesville under one common goal: to make this neighborhood fascinating.” – Iryna Kanishcheva

This first mural’s completion in March 2017 spawned seven more projects nearby in the coming year.

Art by Ruben Ubiera. Read more about this mural here.

Doing our part

In April 2018, there was a ceremony and the mayor awarded Iryna and Maria for organizing this mural project; and in turn, they wanted to show their appreciation to the eight artists who donated their time and talents to making our city more beautiful. That’s where we came in.

We provided them with large prints of photos Iryna had taken of their murals so they’d always have a captured view of their artistic work on display in the neighborhood.

“This is the beauty of street art! Take a picture, now or never.”

Nicole Holderbaum “Nico Suave” with a glass print of her mural.

Always changing

Unlike many historic city landmarks and buildings, Iryna doesn’t believe this art is permanent.

“I don’t think it’s important for murals to exist forever. It’s important to express an idea or design and move on. Sometimes murals become iconic and turn into landmarks you can’t imagine disappearing. But in most cases murals are temporary. This is the beauty of street art! Take a picture, now or never.

Techniques and styles also develop progressively. If we invite all these artists to paint new murals 10 years later it would be something totally different, relevant and exciting.” – Iryna said.

Art by Gaia

What’s next?

This isn’t the first mural project Iryna has completed, and it won’t be her last either.

“My personal goal now is to elevate urban art to a higher level, producing technically perfect artwork, using more resources and networks, and incorporating relevant ideas through art for positive social change,” Iryna said.

More inspiring art decorating more walls? That’s kind of our thing, too.

Check out all of Gainesville’s murals right here, and many thanks to Iryna, for letting us celebrate with you and share your story.

What was your favorite mural? Let us know below!

Featured Image Credit: Art by Jesus and Carrie Martinez 


The Author

Drew Allen

Drew Allen

Besides being the managing editor of this blog, I'm also a drummer, a husband, and a father, not necessarily in that order. I love good stories, and great design, and I probably quote the Office more than I should but less than I could.