Mosaic mural depicts life in Bradenton
BRADENTON — The parking garage under construction in downtown Bradenton is intended to be more than a place to stack cars. It not only will feature ground-floor retail spaces and new offices for the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, it will serve as a work of art with a very local theme.
James Simon, an artist from Pittsburgh, is putting the final touches on “The Magic River.”
“All of the compositions have something to do with the spirit of Bradenton,” Simon said of the multiple scenes spanning several attached panels.
The mosaic mural made largely from tile and glass is 6 feet high and 120 feet long. Its common element is a meandering stream of bright blue tile representing the Manatee River. That river runs past and through scenes depicting wildlife, fishing, musicians, biking, skateboarding, Pittsburgh Pirates baseball, sailing, a farmers market and other aspects of life in Bradenton.
After reviewing the qualifications of several artists, a public arts committee for the city selected Simon, whose public art can be seen in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Tampa, Chattanooga and other locales.
Realize Bradenton, an organization that promotes downtown as a cultural destination, paid Simon’s $58,500 commission for the work he has spent months preparing in 8-foot-wide panels in his Pittsburgh studio.
“It reflects our community values,” Realize Bradenton director Johnette Isham said of what is now downtown’s 67th piece of public art.