Watch Artists Paint the Walls in Coachman Park October 29

Clearwater has a new Arts & Cultural
Affairs Coordinator, and she’s bringing
fresh art and events to downtown Clearwater

October 29 from 12-5 pm
Coachman Park, Clearwater
Details here

Members of the press experienced the new Coachman Park in downtown Clearwater a good week before Cheap Trick christened the outdoor venue The Sound with a free opening night concert.

During the third week of June, journalists from local media outlets donned bright yellow construction vests and hard hats and toured the freshly renovated 19-acre park, cameras in hand. I was there with Creative Loafing’s Editor-in-Chief Ray Roa and music writer Josh Bradley, sweating it out under the Florida sun.

In keeping with tradition, Coachman Park retains its focus on live music through The Sound, a new 4,000-seat outdoor concert venue. But as an arts writer, I couldn’t help but notice all the public art.

During those early June tours, Project Manager Catherine Corcoran pointed out Cliff Garten’s Middens, a row of five gas-powered Stantec torches by the waterfront, and a group of three empty walls draped in banners with the words “public art coming soon.”

Following up months later, I learned that in March 2023, the City of Clearwater hired a new Arts and Cultural Affairs Coordinator, Amber Brice. Brice comes from the Clearwater Library, where she coordinated indoor art walks.

We spoke with Brice about her new role as the City’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Coordinator and what she’s planning for those three walls in Coachman Park and the City of Clearwater at large.

“Bringing more art to the city is really my biggest goal,” Brice told me in a phone interview. “I want to see as much art as possible in Clearwater. And then I would like to do some unique cultural events.”

When asked about these unique cultural events, Brice informed me that Clearwater has a sister city in Japan. Nagano became Clearwater’s sister city in 1959, three years after President Dwight Eisenhower founded Sister Cities International. The goal – to celebrate cultural differences and build partnerships that lessen the chance of new conflicts.

Clearwater has participated in a high school student exchange program with Nagano since the 1990s. Still, outside of this, not many people are aware that Clearwater has a sister city in Japan. Brice, who lived in Japan for two years, hopes to change this.

One of the coolest things about Nagano are its winter festivals, like the Nagano Lantern Festival, which draws thousands of visitors each year.

Every February since 2004, the road leading up to Nagano’s Zenkoji Temple is lit with colorful paper lanterns, each possessing four kiri-e (cut-picture) designs created by local artists and students.

“We really want to bring a Japanese lantern festival like the one in Nagano to Clearwater,” says Brice. “There’s one in Orlando, and I think they have one in the Fort Lauderdale area, but there’s not really anything geared towards Japan in this area. We’d really like to appreciate that sister city relationship by doing something like that.”

But first, murals.

ARTours Clearwater – photo by Harriet Monzon-Aguirre

The City of Clearwater commissioned four new murals over the summer — three in Coachman Park and a fourth on the water tank in Clearwater’s Countryside Neighborhood. The City requested Florida nature-inspired murals for all four locations.

Orlando-based murals and designer Christian Stanley of CStanleyCreative will paint mangroves and red drum fish on the water tank at 2709 FL-580 in the summer of 2024.

This October, wildlife mural artist Sonny Behan aka Sonny Sundancer paints dolphins, Ernesto Maranje paints osprey, and Alyssa Dunlap paints butterfly wings on the walls in Coachman Park.

And they’re doing it live during the inaugural Art in the Park event this Sunday, October 29 from 12-5 pm.

by Alyssa Dunlap, aka Alyssa Marie – image courtesy of the artist’s social media

In addition to live painting, Clearwater’s inaugural Art in the Park features a pop-up art exhibition on the bluff and a special hour-long guided edition of the Clearwater Arts Alliance’s ArtWalk.

The walk begins at the Clearwater Library at 11 am, taking participants on a stroll through downtown Clearwater to see around 20 of its murals, sculptures and art-wrapped signal boxes before ending in Coachman Park as Art in the Park begins.

But the murals don’t end in Coachman Park or in October. Brice is already eyeing the downtown Gateway area leading up to Cleveland as a potential location for a Clearwater mural festival.

“There’s a lot of businesses that are very pro-mural in that area, and they’re always hiring artists for their own murals on their businesses,” says Brice. “I really would love to bring a mural festival kind of like they have in downtown St. Pete with SHINE. I would like to bring that, on a smaller scale, to Clearwater.

“And my first thought was that that neighborhood — that stretch of road — would be the best place to do it, because they’re already very pro mural, there’s a lot of businesses with a lot of blank walls, and it’s leading into Downtown Clearwater. So what better place to set the tone for downtown Clearwater?”

“I’m in the process of organizing that right now,” Brice told me back in August.

She also sees additional mural locations within Coachman Park, like on the back end of the overlook and the rear of The Sound, facing the water.

Clearwater has space for art, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.


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