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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Gainesville gets 33-foot-tall mural on downtown building

<p>Muralist Manuel Di Rita finished the 3D-painted mural with acrylics Wednesday. The optical illusion mural took a week to complete.</p>

Muralist Manuel Di Rita finished the 3D-painted mural with acrylics Wednesday. The optical illusion mural took a week to complete.

As Iryna Kanishcheva walked downtown the past three years, she would fantasize about a mural big enough to fill a blank 33-foot-tall wall.

As of Wednesday, the mural she pictured is a reality. Light and dark brown and blue acrylic shapes swirl around 13 windows across the 57-foot width of the building that houses Flaco’s Cuban Bakery, at 6 NW 2nd St.

Kanishcheva, a 37-year-old UF business administration masters student, founded the first urban art program in North Florida, 352walls, in 2015, she said. She now operates and owns GNV Urban Art, her independent urban art agency.

She invited internationally known artist Manuel Di Rita, also known as Peeta, to create one of his signature 3D optical illusion murals downtown to celebrate the establishment of her art agency.

Ryan Frankel, 38, donated $12,600 to fund the mural, he said. The Community Redevelopment Agency will reimburse Frankel for half of the money he spent, Frankel said.

The mural is not typical because it combines math, science, art and an interaction between the environment surrounding the building. The blue color at the top of the mural and the color of the sky are the same shade, making the building look transparent, Kanishcheva said.

Di Rita began painting the mural on Aug. 29. He painted the final touch-ups of smooth brown lines Wednesday morning after painting for about six hours each day from a lifted platform.

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Muralist Manuel Di Rita finished the 3D-painted mural with acrylics Wednesday. The optical illusion mural took a week to complete.

Di Rita’s signature 3D effect, called anamorphic effect, plays a perspective game with the windows, making them appear to extrude from the building and distort the boundaries of the building itself, he said.

“Mostly other artists, they use the surface of the wall like a canvas,” he said. “For me, it’s like looking at the light of the environment, looking at the colors, trying to match it like to blend it with the environment as much as possible.”

The collaboration process among Di Rita, Frankel, Kanishcheva, the Community Redevelopment Agency and building owner Joseph Semrani took almost a year to manage, Kanishcheva said. Once everyone saw Di Rita’s art, they supported the project.

“I felt that Iryna had worked hard to bring a world-class artist to Gainesville, and all that was missing was funding,” Frankel said.

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As Di Rita returns home to Venice, Italy, Thursday morning, Kanishcheva will continue planning murals to be painted in Florida. Her next projects will be at the Florida Theater and on a three-story building in Jacksonville.

“There is not any similar mural in Gainesville,” she said. “There is nothing in Florida like this.” 

Contact Angela DiMichele at adimichele@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter at @angdimi

Muralist Manuel Di Rita finished the 3D-painted mural with acrylics Wednesday. The optical illusion mural took a week to complete.

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