Lakeland buildings to be adorned with temporary tapestries

Published July 17 2018

Beginning early November, buildings in Lakeland will have their walls adorned with giant temporary tapestries painted by artists from Polk County and central Florida.

These tapestries, also called "Un-Murals," will hang across the Dixieland, midtown and downtown areas of Lakeland as part of an art initiative called "Tapestries: Lakeland." The project hopes to hang 60 locally painted, temporary murals across the three areas.

The murals will not be painted on the sides of buildings. Instead the artists will paint their art on giants swaths of canvas and seal them with acrylic. The paintings will then be mounted on the walls of participating structures around the area.

Artist David Collins said that unlike murals covering St. Petersburg, which are painted on the surface, Lakelandís temporary murals could provide a space for artists to experiment even further with the medium and rotate new ideas into the city.

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"The other side of the fact that [the murals] are portable is that there are always new and fresh things as opposed to something that becomes permanent," Collins said. "It could be that Lakeland becomes a contemporary art destination. Murals donít have to be permanent, art shows arenít."

Collins is a local Lakeland artist who runs the Working Man Studio and Art Gallery. He said the hope for the project wasnít to draw more artists to the area but to show the artists who live in Lakeland that they can follow their ambitions.

"I never thought about the idea that the project would bring other artist to the community," Collins said. "I believed that to other artists it said, ĎYou can make it happen.í The city didnít approach me, the people with budgets, I had to approach them. Itís about showing people that it takes making that first step."

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The first 20 artists for the project were invited to create temporary murals to be set up on Nov. 2, and their work was commissioned and is under way. Collins said the next 20 artists were selected after a brief submission process. Then the final 20 spots are to go to students and artists willing to pay the $150 needed for materials and entry.

Collins said the only spots left available are reserved for area art students who can submit their work themselves or are submitted by a teacher.