David Nackashi’s second historic mural in the Brooklyn Station plaza folds around two panels creating a unique design to a wall mural. This piece shows Jacksonville in its early days.
David Nackashi‘s second mural at Brooklyn Station was completed on April 9th, 2015, just a few weeks after his first, a hundred feet away. Much like the first painting here, this historically-inspired mural is referencing a photograph from Jacksonville in the early 1900’s. The plaza where this mural lives used to be the site of a trolley station – Brooklyn Station – a hub for getting between downtown and the suburbs.
More and more artwork is popping up in the up-and-coming district of Brooklyn. Positioned between Riverside and Downtown, Brooklyn is a prime spot for artists and businesses alike.
Nackashi was commissioned by Wingard Creative to reference this original photograph from the Collections of the Jacksonville Historical Society:
Source image for Nackashi’s two-panel painting in Brooklyn Station, Jacksonville
This dumpster caddy is prime real estate for this mural, sporting the proper dimensions to fit the source image. More importantly, it improves the overall space and environment. Without the mural the caddy is an eye sore, a dead spot. With the mural, it gives the viewer a sense of place, both in location and time, enhancing the branding of the plaza.
This painting has a relevant backdrop too. Standing on Jackson Street, the downtown skyline is situated in your view behind the painting. New and old are evident in the same scene, connecting the viewer to where Jacksonville was with how Jacksonville is now.
Looking from Jackson St., the Jacksonville skyline can be seen in view with the mural.
Let’s focus on the characters we’re seeing in the “photo-mural” – trolleys, cars, people crossing the street and sidewalks, 2-, 3-, 4-story buildings. We’ve covered the trolley cars when evaluating Nackashi’s first mural in this location (they were the primary mass-transportation for years). The overall liveliness of the scene is close to the business activity that’s in the urban core these days, and synonymous with the hustle during Art Walk. And the buildings? They’ve changed quite a bit too.
The Rhodes-Futch-Collins Furniture Company building is the clearest landmark in the artwork. Formerly located at 312 Main St., its building was torn down in 2002 to make room for the Main Branch of the Jacksonville Library erected shortly after. In the source photograph, you can see how it towers over the two-story buildings that line Main Street. This is prime visual real estate, where most of the old ad space was on the side of buildings.
The inscription on the photograph, which is not evident in the painting, states “Main St N from Bay St.” giving clear indication of where this photograph was taken.
How does this same view look in current-day Jacksonville?
One interesting turn is that inclusion of the Brooklyn Station logo that was not in the photograph. An easy argument for this is to help facilitate the branding on the location (especially considering the logo can be viewed as you enter the parking log) rather than historical accuracy. Clearly this is of downtown Jacksonville, while Brooklyn Station would be about two miles away. Besides this addition, all other major visual elements are in tact: trolleys, cars, the furniture store, the awning on the building on the right, and the overall composition of the scene.
Detail of the left panel of Nackashi’s 2-Panel mural in Brooklyn Station. Both the addition of the Brooklyn Station logo and the original Rhodes-Futch-Collins Furniture store building is seen.
Much like his first mural, Nackashi created a grid on both the source photograph and the wall. He then translated the photograph into a posterized, tonal painting onto the wall by hand. Square by square, shade by shade, Nackashi is showing us snippets of Jacksonville’s history.
Only a few colors were used to create a monochrome image, similar to the original photograph. Each color is laid out and painted in a paint-by-numbers fashion to create the shapes, shades, and history of Jacksonville. Contrary to most murals around town, this was painted with brushes by hand rather sprayed on. The hand-painted, brushed look gives it a more traditional look to represent the historical photograph.
Brooklyn Station is becoming a contemporary hub for life in the urban core with new construction sprinkled with references of Jacksonville’s history. This plaza is anchored by a Fresh Market, flanked by small boutique stores (The Pink Nickel), and neighbored by the modern apartments of 220 Riverside. Hang out spots and new food choices, like BurgerFi and a new location for Burrito Gallery, are opening up in the plaza while offering an inspiring view of the downtown skyline and St. Johns River. Unity Plaza also hosts community events and will feature several new restaurants in the coming months.