Conceptual artwork of Oldsmar’s first public art project was submitted to the City Council by USF artist Lakeema Matthew on Tuesday night.
After years of dealing with false starts, failed plans and unreliable artists, the City of Oldsmar is finally getting its first public art project.
The City Council approved conceptual drawings submitted by former USF art student Lakeema Matthew on Tuesday night, paving the way for Matthew to paint a pair of murals on the bandshell at R.E. Olds Park.
The project, which is part of the city’s Art in Public Places initiative, will feature colorful artwork covering the two concrete gray facades that frame the park’s waterfront stage.
Oldsmar City Council member Linda Norris hugs artist Lakeema Matthew Tuesday night.
“I just have to say that this is one of my happiest council meetings in six years. We finally did it,” Council member Linda Norris, a longtime champion of public art in Oldsmar, said after the council’s unanimous vote.
“The bandshell is ugly. It’s not going to be ugly any more.”
The designs approved by the council will depict key aspects of Oldsmar’s history to tie into the City’s centennial celebration this year.
The winning concepts feature a more traditional rendering of town founder Ransom Eli Olds, his iconic early Oldsmobile, and the landmark Oldsmar Bank building at 101 State Street on the right hand column, while the left side will be a brightly colored and more abstract vision, highlighting the City’s deep connection to America’s veterans.
The winning concepts for Oldsmar’s public art project include a tribute to town founder Ransom E. Olds (right), as well as a colorful rendering honoring Oldsmar’s ties to veterans (left).
Mayor Doug Bevis, who early on was skeptical of the idea of painting a mural at the park, was on board after viewing Matthew’s stunning conceptual renderings of what the finished project would look like.
“I think the location really helps,” Mayor Bevis said. “I think putting it somewhere else wouldn’t have done it justice.”
Matthew, a recent USF grad who originally submitted a proposal when the City undertook a unique partnership with the school last year, said she is thrilled to have secured her first official commissioned project as a lead artist.
Artist Lakeema Matthew went head to head with City Council member, and admitted “mean guy”, Eric Seidel on Tuesday night.
“I feel really good right now,” Matthew, who won over the council, and the crowd, with her unrestrained enthusiasm, told Oldsmar Connect. “I’m so blessed and happy to be here at this stage of my life.”
A firm believer in God, Matthew said she believes her being passed over for the project the first time around was simply meant to be.
“I wasn’t the first choice, but I feel like God does things in mysterious ways,” the 26-year-old said. “I’m a believer, and I believe God opened this door for me.”
Matthew said she expects the project, which she budgeted to cost between $10,000-$14,000, will be completed sometime around the end of February, in time for the Oldsmar Days and Nights centennial celebration at the park in March.
If the finished project is deemed a success, officials said they could look to add additional artwork in the park and elsewhere, since the budget for the Art in Public Places project is $45,000.