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New Downtown Street Murals Promote Safety and Aesthetics

By Lisa Striffolino

The Tampa Downtown Partnership and the city of Tampa have recently partnered to commission a street mural on North Ashley Drive in Downtown Tampa in an effort to increase safety on the roads and bring some color to the city.

The project entitled “Reflection Current” was created by local artist Meaghan Farrell Scalise along with the Traditional and Digital Arts (TADA!) design team. It is a mural that contains 40 touchpoints which ultimately created one cohesive street painting. The city’s Ministry of Transport began the project on Tuesday, Sept. 15 by priming the 40 touchpoints, while artists on the TADA! Team completed the actual mural painting Saturday, Sept. 20.

“The artistic design is reflecting on the vibrancy of Tampa’s downtown,” Scalise said. “The curb extensions are a modern take of a flowing pattern in colorful speculations of thought sequences that link a connection path.”

Scalise expressed that this project is a result of the collaborative efforts of the Tampa Downtown Partnership, City of Tampa’s Art Department, Vision Zero and Mobility Department who all share a common passion with a purpose, which in this case is improving safety while simultaneously creating an aesthetic.

Vision Zero is a network that seeks to eliminate all traffic-related fatalities and severe injuries. Maintaining safety on the roads through this artwork project is a goal that the Tampa Downtown Partnership strives to achieve.

“We hope the added color will give visual cues to drivers to slow down as they enter a vibrant neighborhood,” said Karen Kress, Director of Transportation and Planning at the Tampa Downtown Partnership. “It should provide a physiological and visual barrier between drivers and pedestrians. It should also make the road look more narrow to slow down drivers. Pedestrians will now have more physical space to wait and less distance to cross.”

Kress expressed that North Ashley Drive was the perfect spot for this street mural to be located due to its proximity to the interstate off-ramp and its consequential speeding issues.

The local artist’s inspiration for the combination of the blue, gray, yellow, and orange colors in the mural came from the logos of the City of Tampa, the Tampa Downtown Partnership, and the Glazer Children’s Museum. The inspiration for creating the mural itself came from Scalise’s desire to give back to the city of Tampa.

“Opportunities, like this mural, are ways to give back to this city that had a hand in raising me to be the artist that I am,” Scalise said. “It was a wonderful opportunity to convey my own reflection of Tampa’s unique personality and lifestyle; I am always in search of bringing artistic beauty to mundane things. The unique application of the mural being on one of the busiest downtown corridors was an intriguing challenge as an artist.”

Information on other Tampa Downtown Partnership initiatives can be found on their website at www.tampasdowntown.com, and more of Scalise’s artwork can be seen on meaghanscalise.com.

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