Central Avenue may no longer exist in downtown Tampa, but its history can still be told. An article at The Delta Blues web site describes some of this area’s background, and The Historical Marker Database provides information on Central Avenue and links to descriptions of historical markers throughout the world. This area for decades was the hub of business and social activity for many African American residents of Tampa, and has a rich history of music, food, and culture. Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., all passed through here over the years.
This mural was painted by Anthony Moore. It’s located on Jefferson Avenue and is part of the City of Tampa Public Art Program.
A few more of Tampa’s decorated traffic signal junction boxes. The ones above and below are located downtown. I don’t recall the exact streets, but I believe these designs can be found in more than one location.
The box below is in the Westshore area, at the corner of Cypress Street and Lois Avenue.
The last two images were taken along Himes Avenue, the first at Columbus Drive and the second between Ohio Avenue and Dr. MLK Jr. Boulevard.
This park is connected to the Kate Jackson Community Center (no, not the Kate Jackson from Charlie’s Angels) on Rome Avenue in Hyde Park. Enter the park and you will find it is guarded by these four lions.
There is usually a fountain operating in the middle, but I took these photos early in the day before the fountain was turned on.
This is “Nemo on Wheaties,” a sculpture that can currently be found in Channelside near the Tampa Convention Center. The artist is Dominique Martinez of Rustic Steel Creations. (Rustic Steel created the dramatic dragon on display during the opening ceremonies of the International Dragon Boat competition in Tampa last summer.)
The next time you’re in Channelside, be sure to photograph yourself reflected in one of Nemo’s eyes.
This mural is a well-known landmark on North Florida Avenue downtown.
The mural actually faces Royal Street, but the building address is North Florida Avenue. The artist is Carl Cowden III, a graduate of the University of Tampa, and he has painted several murals in the Tampa Bay Area. Click here to read a nice article about Cowden. The mural includes the downtown skyline, a water tower in the north Tampa neighborhood of Sulphur Springs, the Henry Plant Museum on the University of Tampa campus, Gasparilla, the TECO Streetcar in Ybor City, and the area’s natural outdoor beauty.
All 2 of my long-time readers might remember a couple of posts from 2010 about the beautiful sculpture/fountain on South Howard Avenue in South Tampa. You can see those photos here and here. At the time Bern’s Park was just a fountain in a small grassy area. But since then the area has been landscaped to include flowers, shrubs, walkways and benches. The park was built through a combination of city funds and private funding raised by neighborhood associations.
The sculpture is called “Three Graces” and represents three daughters of the Greek god Zeus – specifically, I think they are Aglaia, Euphrosyne and Thaleia.
No doubt some of the private financing came from inscribed commemorative bricks like the ones pictured below.
The plaque above is a bit challenging to read in a photograph, so here is the translation:
“In 1956, Bern Laxer and his wife Gert nestled their small restaurant from downtown on Cass Street to Howard Avenue in the heart of the historic Hyde Park district. They established it in a small strip plaza that housed Putney’s Drug Store and Sumner’s Grocery Store, among other businesses. As the fledgling Bern’s Steak House expanded in size, so did its local and regional recognition. Bern’s passion for quality dining brought popularity and prominence to South Tampa and was a large influence in the resurgence of the old established neighborhood. Over the years, this Tampa landmark restaurant has garnered both national and international renown for Tampa, and Bern was always more than willing to promote Tampa in any way he could. The best way he knew how to do this was to run the best restaurant in the world. In honor and thanks, this close-by green space has been renamed from “Luna Park” to “Bern’s Park.” This tranquil urban oasis honors Bern Laxer’s contribution to the quality of life in his beloved Tampa.”
I have indeed found it to be a tranquil urban oasis.
On the Chinese calendar, I was born in the year of the horse, and I enjoy seeing the animals depicted in interesting ways. This work is almost hidden on Bayshore Boulevard in South Tampa.
These works were sculpted by the late Bud Olsen out of garage door parts. His grandson, Art Oleson, is the artist responsible for “Big Business,” another fascinating public work that can be found downtown.
This public art is another of those details, often overlooked, that makes this city special to me, and one more reason for a peaceful stroll along Bayshore.
More in an ongoing series of decorated traffic signal junction boxes around Tampa. These are both on North Himes Avenue. Above is at West Tampa Bay Boulevard. According to their web site, Sterling Payment Technologies is “a registered ISO/MSP of Wells Fargo Bank” of Walnut Creek, California. Below is at West MLK Jr. Boulevard and represents the University of Phoenix. My previous photos of these junction boxes can be found under the Public Art category.
This is the Henry B. Plant Memorial Fountain, officially titled “Transportation,” part of the Henry B. Plant Museum on the University of Tampa campus. The sculpture was commissioned in 1889, after Henry B. Plant’s death, and is said to be the oldest public art in Tampa.
Henry B. Plant purchased two southern railroads, at foreclosure, in the late 1870s. He built a substantial transportation network on this, eventually holding 2,100 miles of railroad, steamship lines, and hotels throughout the southeastern U.S. One of those hotels was the Tampa Bay Hotel, which later became part of the the University of Tampa.
I hadn’t been to Ybor City in a while and enjoyed a recent stroll through the neighborhood. On one restaurant I noticed the above graffiti. Could this be the work of Hot Dog, whose tags/vandalism/public art (depending on your point of view) I highlighted July and November of last year? After exploring a bit longer, the image below, while faded, confirmed that this was Hot Dog’s work.
A few more photos of public art displayed in downtown Winter Haven. Above is the fountain in Central Park, where some of these works are displayed.
Winter Haven has a series of adjoining parks – South Central Park, Central Park, Virginia Miller Park, Joyce B. Davis Park, and Johnny Patterson Park – that amount to a long, skinny greenspace running north and south through downtown. The sculpture above is in Johnny Davidson Park, but I couldn’t find a title or artist information for the art.
Some of these works, like the one below, are part of a temporary exhibit, from a nationwide competition sponsored by the city of Winter Haven and the Polk Museum of Art.
As a dog lover, “Lucy” is my personal favorite.
More public art from downtown Winter Haven next week.
On a recent photowalk around downtown Tampa, I noticed this graffiti on the Cass Street Bridge. I’m not sure if this is new. (Follow this link for my previous posting on Hot Dog Man’s work.) It was in a fairly obscure place, I had to do some climbing to get these shots, so it’s possible I just didn’t notice it when I was compiling images for Graffiti Month. Don’t ask me why, but I find it kind of reassuring that Hot Dog Man is still out there.
Meanwhile, below are some images I didn’t post during Graffiti Month, because the graffiti was covered over soon after I took the photographs. This is Swann Avenue, in the Hyde Park area, underneath the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway.
However, the graffiti below is brand new. This is the same location on Swann Avenue. The formatting of “…but, I love you.” implies continuation, but I couldn’t find anything else in the area.
For several weeks in November, the Drive 4 COPD Monument is on display downtown in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. COPD is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a serious lung disease that cannot be cured, and the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.
The signage from the exhibit, shown below, explains more about the monument, and artist, and the Drive 4 COPD initiative. My own observation is that I’ve lived in 5 states, and I see more people smoking in Florida than any of the others. My own maternal grandmother smoked most of her life and nearly died of emphysema; she extended her life several years by quitting smoking.
Lots of cigarette butts on the ground around the exhibit. Oh, the irony.
It’s a good cause, and yet another interesting use of Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.
“How many artists can say that they continually risked their lives and personal freedom just to leave proof that they were here and alive at some point in time? Not many.” -Boston graffiti writer ALERT, from The History of American Graffiti by Gastman and Neelon
One thing that got me thinking about graffiti in recent years was a 2006 trip to Slovenia. Slovenia is in central Europe, south of Austria. It was my one and, so far, only trip to Europe. And it was possibly the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. One graffiti example I especially appreciated is shown below, in a photo taken in Maribor, Slovenia’s second largest city.
Below is a less socially significant graffiti example. Somehow it seems classier in a foreign language, but I can imagine Slovenians must have found it offensive. This was a bus stop in Bohinj. The Julian Alps run through Slovenia and Bohinj is a picturesque mountain community. I’m guessing the caption says “Call me!” but am not sure.
To reach Slovenia, we flew in and out of Vienna (cheaper airfare) and took the scenic 6-hour train ride into Slovenia’s capital. While in Vienna, we toured St. Stephen’s Cathedral, first built in the 1100′s with major construction and renovation continuing well into the 20th century. The next 2 photos were taken inside St. Stephen’s south tower. “Kirchenbrand,” according to Google Translate, means “church fire.” In fact, the church was severely damaged by fire in April, 1945, and did not reopen until 1948. The figures below appear to be dates and don’t sync with the date of the fire, so I’m not sure how to explain that.
Finally, a photo from Slovenia’s capital city, Ljubljana (loo-blee-AH-nuh). This is an extraordinary city filled with classic architecture and friendly people. This last photo was taken during the hike up to Ljubljana Castle, on a hill overlooking the city.
I understand there’s no way to get a real appreciation of Slovenia from these out-of-context images. So I’ve posted a series of photos on Flickr here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/scottbravard/sets/72157627363798856/. Take a look and, if you can afford it, get on the first plane over there, because it really is an incredible place.
A final set of images of the Cass Street Bridge in downtown Tampa, and some of the graffiti found on the bridge. A graffiti tour of Tampa wouldn’t be practical, but the St. Petersburg Times recently printed an Associated Press article about Vespa tours of graffiti in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood.
“The city is organic. You’re part of the city, and the city is part of you. That’s why when you grow up, you cut through yards and alleys and jaywalk, because it’s your city and you can do whatever you want. That passes over into writing on everything, because it’s yours.” -Wisconsin graffiti writer DESA, from The History of American Graffiti by Gastman and Neelon
“A very significant part of graffiti will always be physically exploring your city and making its buildings, alleys, train yards, and tunnels your own personal playground.” -Boston graffiti writer AVES, from The History of American Graffiti
Note that part of the image below has been blurred to maintain a PG rating.
“Graffiti creeps across cultural boundaries previously unthinkable. Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, graffiti can be found throughout the former Soviet Bloc, and today, there is groundbreaking work happening in the face of great personal risk in places like Tehran and China. Graffiti is the art of freedom, and it is only natural that the movement that sent it around the world grew and blossomed here in the land of the free.” -from The History of American Graffiti
I came across this beautiful mural in an alley in Ybor City. The space was too narrow for me to photograph the entire work, so I settled for photographing a couple of the more interesting sections. Judging from the different styles, I assume this is the work of more than one artist.
Only 2 more “Graffiti Month” posts left, so that’s good news or bad news, depending on whether you enjoy the subject.
More photos of the Cass Street Bridge, including graffiti on either the automobile bridge (the actual Cass Street Bridge) or the railroad bridge right next to it. The railroad bridge is operated by CSX Transportation. A 2001 incident with a CSX locomotive was the inspiration for the 2010 Tony Scott film Unstoppable.
If you want to see some serious bridge graffiti, you should see what the NYC graffiti duo SANE SMITH did to the Brooklyn Bridge.
One last set of Cass Street Bridge photos to follow later in the week.
Some graffiti on Osborne Avenue, under I-275, in Tampa’s Seminole Heights neighborhood. The graffiti landscape changes so rapidly, new graffiti has appeared at this overpass just in the short time since I took these photos.
If you think that graffiti no longer stirs the intense anger it once did, the upcoming documentary Vigilante Vigilante: The Battle for Expression looks certain to be interesting.
This is taken from Franklin Street downtown, about 2 blocks north of I-275. It’s the back of a small strip mall that faces North Tampa Street.
Above is 5 photos stitched together. Here are a couple of shots showing more detail. The size and coloring of this mural are really amazing. If you’re in the Tampa area and have the opportunity, it’s worth a visit. There’s also a great Oriental market nearby, added incentive to visit the neighborhood.
More images from along the banks of the Hillsborough River through downtown Tampa. Mostly from school rowing crews, but not all. Graffiti is not always what it seems at first glance.
“People in California and the Southwest were accustomed to walls filled with gang graffiti long before the New York subway variety emerged. Public sentiment had long decided, rightly or not, that gang graffiti was a harbinger of danger and crime, and the New York-style graffiti writers in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Phoenix, Albuquerque, and El Paso kept the graffiti endemic to their cities at arm’s length. Gangs carried such negative connotations that the new breed of New York-style writers in these cities, while sometimes taking cues from gang graffiti in style and placement, carefully disassociated themselves from it, often having to explain that they were not gang members.” -The History of American Graffiti by Gastman and Neelon
“It’s a myth that all the writers were black or Hispanic. It’s b-s-. The truth of the matter is that graffiti was multiracial. Black, Hispanic, white – you didn’t care, and the guys who did it came in all colors.” -Graffiti writer TKID-170, from The History of American Graffiti
“Graffiti saved me from the gang life that I was going towards. In the neighborhood, you had to be down with the gang life, but with graffiti, that let the gang members say that I was doing my own thing, that I was OK.” -San Francisco graffiti writer TWICK, from The History of American Graffiti
I don’t know who this Hot Dog person is. I can’t help but appreciate his determination; on the other hand, he’s defacing some significant public space. These photos are taken primarily on the Kennedy Boulevard and Cass Street bridges downtown. It got me thinking about the various measures cities and their leaders have taken to eliminate graffiti over the years. In 1971, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority spent about $1 million to clean up graffiti in its system, primarily trains and rail yards.
I understand some folks might think I’m promoting graffiti with this themed month. That’s not my intention. However, there are clearly some social and cultural issues related to graffiti that are worth discussion. Just this week, the New York Times had an article about a growing number of graffiti incidents in cities across the country – many of the same cities that are already cutting services in order to reduce spending.
“In 1995, Chicago began enforcing an antigraffiti measure that banned the sale of spray paint within the city limits. Unlike other cities that allowed people over the ages of eighteen or twenty-one to purchase it, no one was allowed to buy spray paint in Chicago unless they could prove they were a mechanic or painter. This ban was particularly ironic: American spray paint was first manufactured in 1949 in Chicago.” -The History of American Graffiti by Gastman and Neelon
“Throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, New York’s MTA [Metropolitan Transportation Authority] gradually ramped up its efforts to clean the trains, from employing the ‘buff’ – essentially a noxious chemical drive-through carwash for trains – to replacing the entire fleet of subway cars, one line at a time. Yards were fenced, then double fenced, then adorned with razor wire, and then with still more razor wire. Beginning in 1986, a handful of subway lines became clean each year.” -The History of American Graffiti
“Here was something that should be manageable, but there was no public approach to managing it that anyone could figure out. As someone in the justice system asked me, ‘What do you do with the graffitist when he’s being sentenced with a rapist before him and a murderer after him?’ In people’s minds, I felt, even without doing research, they were associating the notion of crime and other notions of the city not being managed well – garbage, etc. – with the writing of graffiti. That all of them were just symptoms of a society in which the amount of social disorder – dangerous social disorder was increasing to a level where it really shouldn’t be tolerated, but was being tolerated, because people didn’t know what to do about it.” -sociologist Nathan Glazer, quoted in The History of American Graffiti
It was Nathan Glazer’s thinking that inspired George Kelling and James Q. Wilson to develop their “broken window” theory, that small crimes or offenses in a city or neighborhood – such as graffiti – indicate the area is an invitation for larger crimes to be committed.
More photographs of random graffiti around Ybor City. The image above is 3 photographs stitched together, necessary because it was an alley and I couldn’t fit the entire piece in one shot.
One thing that should have occurred to me, but never did, is how closely graffiti is tied in to larger economic and cultural events.
“Any writer will tell you that graffiti tore down the racial barriers of the late 1960s and early 1970s – eradicated them! And you just didn’t see that in New York City until graffiti hit the scene. Once we smelled that ink, we were just writers. The world could take a great lesson in conquering racism by giving everybody a can of spray paint!” -Graffiti writer LIL SOUL 159, quoted in The History of American Graffiti by Gastman and Neelon
“Still, for all of the hatred that graffiti spawned among adults, the fact that it was a youth movement meant that elders had to take an uncomfortable responsibility for the neglected surroundings that the youths were born into.” -The History of American Graffiti
I can see where the current anti-government mania might be taking us, based on events of the 1970s:
“The graffiti painted with stolen paint was only the most visible crime running rampant in New York City. Mayor Abe Beame had a nearly bankrupt city to manage, and part of the belt-tightening of 1975 involved massive layoffs of police officers. There was some data to back this up, however flimsy, showing that the population of New York was dropping as residents left for Westchester or Long Island suburbs. … Entire buildings lay vacant, and desperate property owners sent arsonists to torch their buildings for insurance money. The South Bronx was losing ten blocks’ worth of buildings a year to such arson fires. Few were stopped in time, either: Part of the belt-tightening had included closing fire stations in neighborhoods with declining populations – neighborhoods like the South Bronx.” -The History of American Graffiti
“Desegregation [in Washington, D.C.] caused whites and middle-class blacks to move out of the District, leaving behind a poor, largely black population. Without the support of the middle class, the community fell into disarray and its residents lived in squalor. In April 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. predicted that if things did not improve in D.C., there would be a violent uprising. Four days later, when King was assassinated, riots overwhelmed the city. Some of the earliest graffiti in D.C. appeared during the riots, when people wrote political or cultural messages – such as SOUL BROTHER – on boarded-up storefronts and windows. Because it occurred in the poor inner city, much of the graffiti remained long after it was done – some of it for decades. This inspired local youths to follow suit…” -The History of American Graffiti