A new street mural is bringing more than just a splash of colorful art to Downtown Tampa’s River Arts District—it’s also here to keep you from getting lost. Waves and swirls of purple and yellow will fill the intersection of Cass Street and Tyler Street. The Tampa Downtown Partnership is funding the new mural, named River Arts Crossing, and worked with artists to design it. Friday morning, crews will close the intersection at 5 a.m. and start painting the artwork at 8 a.m.; it will be dry and ready for traffic by 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
How this art helps you find your way
The mural sits between the Straz Center for the Performing Arts and Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, right along the Tampa Riverwalk. But this is one area where Riverwalk users often get confused—they need to walk away from the river here and cross Cass Street using a regular sidewalk and crosswalk.
“This spot may be the most challenging place to navigate the Tampa Riverwalk, so we decided to make this more than just a mural by weaving in some ‘directions in disguise,’” said Shaun Drinkard, Interim President of the Tampa Downtown Partnership. “These are hidden hints that will help everyone know they’re still on the right path.”
Incorporated into the mural’s smooth circles and curves are twelve sharp, pointed triangles. At ground level, these triangles look like arrows. They send a stealthy signal to pedestrians, pointing them across the street to continue their path along the Riverwalk.
“The human brain is an amazing thing. For years, places like airports have used everything from light patterns to carpet colors to mentally ‘guide’ you toward the gate or the baggage claim. By working that same subtle psychology into this artwork, we can add something that’s both beautiful and helpful to Downtown,” Drinkard said.
Improving safety with art
Adding murals to intersections has benefits beyond beauty. These projects help with traffic calming—sending visual cues to drivers to slow down. The Tampa Downtown Partnership has completed several of these “tactical urbanism” projects, including three additional intersection murals and decorated curb extensions on Ashley Drive and Kay Street. This mural also boosts safety for bicyclists using the city’s protected east/west cycle track, the Cass Green Spine. “I’m very grateful, and it’s awesome that artwork can have that kind of impact,” said Jay Giroux of Greater Public Studio, who worked with Anthony Freese of Freese Design Co. to create and paint the mural. “It certainly helps my argument for why we should have more murals and public art and murals on the street. It’s awesome.”
The City of Tampa and Friends of the Riverwalk collaborated with the Tampa Downtown Partnership on the project. Thanks to special street paint, the artwork is expected to remain in place for several years.
About the Tampa Downtown Partnership
Tampa Downtown Partnership is a private, membership-based not-for-profit 501(c)(6) comprised of companies, organizations, and individuals with a common goal of advancing Tampa's Downtown. Through an annual contract with the City of Tampa, Tampa Downtown Partnership administers the Special Services District. In addition to Tampa's Downtown Guides and Clean Team, Tampa Downtown Partnership serves Downtown through marketing, business development, transportation, advocacy, public space activation, planning, and beautification.