In the Loop
General News : Nov 1, 2016

New Murals Find Home at 700 Plaza in Downtown Gainesville

By Francesca Levy

Austin Gresham (BFA ‘07) is known to many from his role as the company manager for the School of Theatre + Dance and through his involvement with the School of Music’s opera program, but recently he has been involved in another arts undertaking through his role as the property manager of the 700 Plaza in Downtown Gainesville.

Gresham manages the 700 Plaza, home to the popular restaurant Leonardo’s 706 and Hector Framing and Gallery, where he helps make improvements to the buildings. Recently, he decided he wanted to do something with the alley and outdoor space between the two buildings in the plaza. Because all of the tenants of the plaza are supporters of the arts and the local community, Gresham thought it would be a good idea to have a mural commissioned on the wall, he said.

Through a collaboration with 352walls and Hector Framing and Gallery, international muralist David Zayas will be completing a mural on the side of the Leonardo’s 706. Gresham hopes the mural will be finished in time for the annual Downtown Arts Festival and encourages people passing by to come check out the new mural.

While Zayas is in town completing the project he will be offering a master class in collaboration with the School of Art + Art History. Although the mural is being sponsored privately by Gresham and the tenants of the plaza, Gresham hopes that the mural will be an asset to the larger Gainesville community. The mural will still be considered part of the ongoing 352walls project and can be found on the 352walls map.

In addition to the permanent mural being completed by Zayas, Gresham wanted to do something with another wall of the outdoor space between the plaza’s buildings. Gresham partnered with UF drawing faculty Julia Morrisroe to designate the adjacent wall as a “teaching wall” where students enrolled in Morrisroe’s site-specific painting class will be able to practice and learn from other muralists and community artists. Gresham hopes that this wall becomes about the process of creating art and envisions this wall to be constantly changing and always available to arts students.

“All of the tenants of the 700 Plaza feel passionately about bringing art to the community,” Gresham said. “It seemed like a waste to have these big white walls we weren’t doing anything with. If we’ve got the space, let’s use it. Let’s make something the community can see and use.”

If you’re passing by the 700 Plaza, stop by to check Zayas painting the mural October 26 - November 8.

Learn more about David Zayas and keep up with him on Twitter.

Learn more about 352walls.