For forty years, Hernando County has recognized the cultural value of supporting artists in the community. The efforts took a variety of shapes over the years culminating in the Hernando County Fine Arts Council. Created in 1987, the Council is comprised of fifteen county-appointed volunteers. With a mission “to encourage, promote, and support all the creative arts in Hernando County and to provide a means to showcase the arts,” they established a long-standing public art campaign that continues to enliven and inspire artists, residents, and visitors.
Brooksville Main Street, accredited through both the national non-profit Main Street America and Florida Main Street, believes that everyone deserves a vibrant neighborhood. Main Street America encourages economic development and community revitalization through preservation of the regional culture and history. Community involvement provides an unshakable foundation for recreating a beautiful, well-planned, thriving town that encourages local connections and encourages visitors to jump into the local spirit.
These two entities, the Council and Brooksville Main Street, combined forces to support the local artist community by providing opportunities to create accessible downtown murals in public venues. Promoting interactive art invites visitors to a consider new interpretation and appreciation for their surroundings. With regular Calls to Artists, there is a wealth of new artwork, newly discovered artists, and a whole new beauty to the city.
Dedicated last autumn, the downtown branch of Hernando County Public Library, Frederick Eugene Lykes Jr. Memorial Library, boasts two murals by local artists. The murals, in honor of Barbara Fisher, are a community collaborative effort. Several local organizations joined forces to organize the project, put out the artist call, and provide the necessary resources. Library staff decided which murals to accept. Fisher, who died in 2020, led a life of discovery; many of these grand adventures began in the local library that fortified her dreams and travel across the US, Europe, and Asia. Fisher requested contributions to the library in her memory.
The library, in turn, honors Fisher with two murals in the revitalized library atrium. The daydreamy mural by Renata Villemaire, titled “Between the pages where discovery and adventures begin,” shows book stacks in front of an open window with a view full of constellations; the stars are the limit. The Selfie Mural offers a place to step into your future intellect and promise. The bright colors and vibrant energy allow anyone standing there to radiate potential. The mural, by Nancy Barry, is meant to help “light that fire within each of us.” In combination, the murals offer not only the stars, but the acknowledgement that every one of us has the potential and promise of reaching them. It all starts with a curiosity readily whetted at your local library.
At the base of the iconic Brooksville water tower is the recently opened Downtown Athletics. The once abandoned city building has been transformed into a bright and airy physical fitness facility. “Tangerine Dream,” painted on the end of the building, contributes to the rejuvenation of the city building and brings the glory of Brooksville into light. From the heart-shaped cloud to the bride and groom, the alligator in the bay and the leisurely figure resting under a tree, artist Beth Warmath invites viewers to appreciate the wellbeing found here. Downtown Athletics is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people in the community; “Tangerine Dream” implies the transformative strength of a healthy, good life in a beautiful place.
Long ago, postcards bearing “Greetings from Florida” made their way from the Sunshine State to friends and family far away in the cold places. Now, step in front of the “Greetings from Brooksville” Mountaineer Coffee mural for an Instagram-worthy shot you can send around the world in nanoseconds. From pelicans to palms, mermaids to manatees, tangerines to turtles, artist Gary Duquette brought Brooksville and Hernando County to life in this mural. Mountaineer Coffee not only serves coffee, but they roast their own beans (daily!), and have weekly NaturalNights with beer, wine, and a rotating food menu. Welcome to Brooksville, indeed
Gary Duquette, a long-time artist and muralist, is becoming locally known for painting with wine, beer, and coffee; that is not necessarily painting while drinking these beverages, though that sometimes happens, too. Along with the Mountaineer Coffee mural, he has two other murals in Brooksville, made with regular old paint. The first, inspired by Gone with the Wind, is on the side of Southern Belle realty and captures both the business name and a past image of the south. A short walk down Main Street from the library, is “Angel Wings,” Duquette’s bow to the selfie culture. Stop by for a photo-op as your angelic alter ego before continuing the Brooksville mural walk.
Either if you choose to go see one of all of this destination’s murals, much is to be discovered between a casual lunch and an evening stroll. Add this unique new way to collect memories and uncover the history of Florida’s Adventure Coast, Brooksville-Weeki Wachee, to your travel bucket list.