By Kathy L. Collins
The largest outdoor original artwork in the state of Florida is not only located right in our own backyard, but it was also designed and produced under the direction of a local artist, Michael Parker of Ruskin. The mural project was supported by community volunteers and art students from Hillsborough Community College Ybor Campus.
“American Journey” is located on a warehouse facing Adamo Dr. between 17th and 19th Streets at Ybor City’s Southeast corner.
The 12,000 square foot mural incorporates three themes: The Journey Through Life; The Conflict Between Tradition and Progress; and The American Experience.
The faces of two women dominate the mural. Also featured in this massive mural are Ybor City natives Frank Adamo and Tony Pizzo. The neighborhood’s namesake, Don Vincente Martinez-Ybor is also featured.
Parker explained, “We felt strongly that the piece should illustrate that our rich heritage is more than a story hidden in books or museums and cataloged as ‘the past.’ It is rather a foundation upon which we stand today
Parker was chosen from a pool of artists. Parker said, “There is no other place like Ybor City. I have always been a visitor of Ybor, but never understood the complexity of it’s nature. Creating a mural for a community is a great opportunity for community members to come together and explore what makes their place unique and special to them. Creating a visual image to represent it was a monumental task.”
The process of creating a mural this large and complex takes years. Parker and hs team interviewed people and extensively researched the history of Ybor City.
Parker said, “Helping a community to create a piece of art that represents themselves in a thoughtful and encompassing way is an honor. We are so proud to be able to offer to this community something that can make us all stop for a moment and reconnect with each other.”
Parker has executed several other murals in the area including “Head, Heart and Hands” which graces the old Clark Furniture building in Ruskin.
For more information on “American Journey,” please visit www.yborartproject.com.