Residual spray paint floated on the breeze as several artists took great care and passion for crafting jaw-dropping murals in the alley between Downtown Barbers of Apopka and the McLeod Law Firm. The Downtown Barbers of Apopka collaborated with the No Borders Art Competition to organize the Apopka Murals Downtown Art Walk on Saturday.
While the artists worked their magic and turned plain walls into eye-catching murals, tents showcasing a variety of vendors’ arts and crafts were set up and received a lot of love from the community as visitors came and went.
Luis Rivera, event organizer and a barber at Downtown Barbers of Apopka, thought a project like this could breathe some life into the downtown area. He attended the latest City Council meeting to make sure he had the clearance to go forward with the event. With the approval from the private property owners of the buildings that would be painted on, he was all set to proceed.
“I’m here to tell you the importance of murals and beautifying a growing city,” Rivera said. “I am here to tell you that I’m that person.”
That is the message Rivera brought to the City Council and the community he lives in. His objective was to revitalize the area by creating an attraction for locals and visitors. More than anything, Rivera said he had a great appreciation for Raymond Mcleod and his blessing to paint on his building.
Tiffany Ramos, one of the muralists, painted a portrait of a woman wearing sunglasses with a citrus overtone. She said she wanted the mural to have a Florida “vibe” and added oranges and flowers to her painting. Ramos said that adding some artistic flare to Downtown Apopka would create a more welcoming environment and make Apopkans feel proud of where they live.
“It builds a sense of community, a sense of culture,” Ramos said. “People are excited to live here, excited to show their friends where they live, and they can come to walk their dogs and pass by the walls… It’s just a different line of sight.”
Michael Delgado, a barber, and artist, had never done a mural with spray paint before. He set up a big canvas so that he could practice and learn the craft. He said that looking at other cities that embrace art, like the Wynwood Art District of Miami, are examples of how artistic endeavors can benefit the local community.
“You see a lot of tourism through there, and it wasn’t always like that,” Delgado said. “You do something like that in Apopka, and it’ll bring tourism here... it will bring the community together.”
Delgado said that he believes art is a great escape for children and could be the path that leads them into a brighter future. He’d like to see the community becoming more involved with art and giving kids the chance to express themselves.
“…The community should be doing more to really push kids out there to do more art,” Delgado said. “…We’ve got a lot of violence going on in Apopka, so I feel like art will really bring the kids out of that…”
Artist Pablo Santiago’s specialty is spray painting “lettering,” and while he wasn’t spraying a mural, he hung out and supported the other artists who are his friends. He said he often collaborates with the artists.
“…Hopefully, people will support it because not all art you see on walls is vandalism,” Santiago said. “There’s a lot of talent here in Orlando, Apopka, Kissimmee, and they just need to support and see how amazing these walls could look.”
Rivera was thrilled to see the project transform from an idea into a reality, and if the goal was to revitalize and beautify Downtown Apopka, this looked like a step in the right direction.
“… It seems like we’ve made some sort of history,” Rivera said.
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