Bond moves ahead with plans for art in neighborhood

Artist Zarryen Gaines stands at the head of the Lanier Park trail where his work will be displayed.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer

During the next four months, the landscape in Bond neighborhood is expected to look a little differently – more vibrant – community leaders say.

This will happen as a project known as Greater Art for Greater Bond. It includes plans for a mural on Speed’s Grocery Store, an art garden in the Bond Linear Park that runs to the Junction off Mill Street. Another feature will be banners along some streets and light posts. 

Plus, street art along Saxon Street.

“We are thrilled that Bond wants art in its neighborhood and considered it an important value to telling its story, creating more visibility for the neighborhood and really helping people understand what their neighborhood is about,” said Kathleen Spehar, executive director of the Council on Culture and Arts.

COCA is one of the stakeholders. The other is the City of Tallahassee and the Greater Bond Neighborhood Association.

Funding will come from a Cross-Sector Impact Grant of $15,000 from South Arts. Another $10,000 will come from the Greater Bond Neighborhood First Plan.

The biggest chunk of funding is $25,000 for the art in the streets phase. It is from the Bloomberg Philanthropies Asphalt Art Initiative grants program. More than 200 projects were submitted and Tallahassee was one of the final 26 cities.

Securing funding for the Greater Art for Bond project stems from an initial idea to spend $2,000 for art in the area, said Talethia Edwards, president of Greater Bond Neighborhood Association.

One of the most anticipated parts of the art project will be painted by Zarryen Gaines, a former member of the Lamplighters and a FAMU sophomore. 

“I feel very, very proud that people see what I can do,” Gaines said. “I’m actually glad that they decided that I am the guy.”

Gaines, who is expected to begin his work shortly, was commissioned during the pandemic, said Edwards.

“We are really excited about bringing this life in art and all this collaboration after being so isolated for so long during COVID,” she said.

Bond is on the cusp of FAMU Ways, and the art is expected to add to plans for an art and culture trail that will be build along the roadway.

“Communities like ours are typically gray, concrete jungles as they call them sometimes, so it means so much to add this artful infrastructure and it brings a bit of vibrancy and life to an area,” Edwards said. “When you talk about adding color, it increases self-esteem, community pride, mental health; all of the things that happen with these kinds of projects. It really does something for community pride.”

The art project is the latest in efforts to revitalize Bond, which was award more than $6 million for refurbishing the area. Bond was once a self-contained community of grocery stores, barber shops and other essentials before desegregation.

Gaines is commissioned to reflect some of the neighborhood’s past in his art. In addition to the mural at Speed’s Grocery, Gaines’ work will be highlighted in the Linier Park. 

It’s an opportunity that Gaines relishes.

 “I wanted to do something big for my hometown, Tallahassee so I took it on,” said Gaines. “It’s good that I’m being a part of this community’s history. They are trying to turn it around and it feels good that I’m a part of that.”

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