Temple Terrace murals bring bright colors, ‘rebirth’ to city

‘It’s not just this little suburb of Tampa.’
Ameena Khan (right) and Melissa Decambra paint in Khan's mural.
Ameena Khan (right) and Melissa Decambra paint in Khan's mural. [ DIVYA KUMAR | Times ]
Published March 20, 2020

TEMPLE TERRACE — On a sunny Saturday morning, Ameena Khan stood under an umbrella, painting a mural on a barrier wall at the corner of Riverhills and 56th Street. As she painted, some passing motorists honked and others slowed to look at her work.

Khan’s mural is of a yellow lotus and lilies, seen at certain times of the year on the Hillsborough River that flows nearby.

“It represents rebirth,” Khan said. “And beauty through adversity.”

The murals have been commissioned by the Temple Terrace Arts Council, funded by two of Hillsborough County’s Community Arts Impact grants. It’s part of an effort to bring public art to a city that has lately been reshaping its identity.

Related: RELATED: In Temple Terrace, breaking ground on long-awaited redevelopment project

The idea for the project came out of a survey of Temple Terrace residents. Asked what they were most proud of about their city, the top two answers were its beauty and its history.

The new murals will document the city’s history and reflect both the city’s flora and its diverse range of artists, said Kim Straub, vice president of special for the Arts Council.

“I think it says that we’re moving forward and we’re a strong community,” Straub said.

One mural will serve as a timeline of the area, chronicling the history of Temple Terrace from the 1700s through its early development in the 1920s to the present day. The other murals will be at the intersections of Busch Boulevard/Bullard Parkway and 56th Street.

Straub said she believes public art starts conversations that build a feeling of community.

“People watch out for each other and develop a common sense of pride in the community and want to keep it a beautiful place,” she said.

Related: RELATED: Temple Terrace residents paint an eye-popping design on neighborhood streets

Laurie Hayes, marketing and communications officer for Temple Terrace, said she hopes the murals will help others see Temple Terrace as a place worth checking out, where residents take pride in their community.

“It’s not just this little suburb of Tampa, though that’s what it was designed to be at one time,” she said. “... Public art is a very modern concept. It’s trendy and cool. Seminole Heights is doing it, a lot of big cities are doing it. We obviously are not a big city. But the fact that we have really taken an interest in this, and so much of this pays homage to our history, it seems like something that is going to appeal to a lot of people.”

Mike Knapp, a Temple Terrace resident for the past 27 years, lives a few blocks from the Shell station at Riverhills and 56th. His mural is painted along a barrier wall across the street from Khan’s. He said the walls are representative of the welcoming quality of Temple Terrace.

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Mike Knapp painted the mural on the wall outside the Shell Gas Station at 56th and Riverhills.
Mike Knapp painted the mural on the wall outside the Shell Gas Station at 56th and Riverhills. [ DIVYA KUMAR | Times ]

“Walls, which are normally meant to keep people out, are being turned into something inviting,” Knapp said. “I don’t know how people could drive by this intersection and not feel uplifted.”