New murals part of effort to breathe life into Arlington

Arlington 20/20 initiative aims to empower community and inspire positive change

News4Jax reporter Lena Pringle spoke with the artist responsible for two new murals you can see at Warrington Park.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – New art is coming to Jacksonville’s Arlington neighborhood.

The Arlington 20/20 initiative is using public art to breathe new life into Warrington Park, namely with the addition of two new murals, which were dedicated to the community in a ceremony Tuesday.

The initiative aims to bring people together through faith, business, education, nonprofit and government. The goal? To address community empowerment, family bonds, economic development, housing development and workforce development.

Nico Holderbaum, the artist behind the murals, said the community banded together to create the murals, from friends to volunteers who heard about the effort on social media.

“People came through from the community, from the local neighborhood,” Holderbaum said. “I have some friends that live there, so their whole family came, their friends, we had like 20 people out there. Also, people I found through social media.”

Holderbaum said art plays a major role in revitalizing communities.

“I think it’s underappreciated,” she said. “People underestimate the power of public art to elevate and transform communities.”

Holderbaum said the murals have two different themes: dream big and fly high.

The “fly high” mural in inspired by Bessie Coleman, the first Black and Native American female pilot in the U.S. It’s a way of paying homage to her pioneering efforts while celebrating her accomplishments.

Incidentally, Arlington-based Norman Studios produced a film about Coleman.

As for the “dream big” mural, Holderbaum said it combines several threads — creativity, unity and activity.

These murals represent a significant step toward the initiative’s goal of transforming the park’s two unused buildings into the Woodland Acres I.M.P.A.C.T. Dream Center, a community hub that will provide financial literacy, health and education resources for students.

While these murals are comprised of many concepts, Holderbaum said hope is the most important.

“Public art is brought into the community. It’s still inspirational for communities to see that someone cares enough to invest beauty and creativity in their neighborhood and that can inspire hope,” Holderbaum said. “It could change your whole mindset. It could re-motivate you, re-inspire you, inspire you to keep pushing to keep going and moving forward. Hope is the biggest thing I think public art can provide.”

To learn more about the Arlington 20/20 initiative, visit the organization’s website.