Urban Art of Gainesville: Nico Suave and Martin Torres’ Soulful Words
We had a chance to speak with Nicole ‘Nico Suave’ about her collaborative piece with Martin Torres for the Grove Street Neighborhoods Murals Project, a local art initiative founded by award winners and community activists Iryna Kanishcheve and Maria Huff Edwards.
On January 31st, 2017, the Grove Street Neighborhood Murals project began as an opportunity for one mural to be painted in the area.
With aims to beautify and revitalize the historic, inner city Grove Street Neighborhood in Gainesville, the project soon gained momentum with the support of the Grove Street community and developed into a full-scale community project with the unveiling of ten murals over the course of one month.
We had a chance to speak with one of the 11 visual artists who participated in the painting of murals, Nicole ‘Nico Suave’ Bolderhaum, about her collaborative contribution to the project alongside fellow artist Martin Torres:
Who are the three figures that you decided to paint and why did you paint them?
Breanna Jenkins—she’s a friend of mine who just started getting into spoken word and writing. I wanted to incorporate her into a piece as a way of encouraging her to keep writing. They’re all writers. They all wrote unique, personal pieces with love as a central theme for the wall. Spencer Rooney, he’s a writer and he shared an intense piece at the celebration event for the whole Grove Street Project’s completion. Adrian Hendrix—she’s from Canada and she’s a poet and spoken word performer.
How long did it take to paint?
You collaborated on the piece with Martin Torres, can you tell me what that collaboration entailed?
Martin worked mostly on the black backgrounds and their abstracted patterns and textures. I painted the portraits and directed the overall vision for the mural.
Were there any of your own emotions present in the piece?
I chose to have all of these writers as a part of the mural on account of their creative writing ability and how they spoke to me. The contrast between the clean white wall and the textured black triangles which the portraits are placed upon is representative of a struggle to find balance between two extremes as a human.
What other mediums do you use for expression?
I’m getting into sculptural installation work, and incorporating more photography into my work as well. . Motivational speaking, art therapy. I’m also heavily involved with Jax Kid’s Mural Festival, which is a project that I put together funded by the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville and Florida Blue SPARK grant. The festival gives underprivileged children around the city the chance to paint murals!
Nico is a Jacksonville, FL-based artist/muralist and creative development enthusiast. Her goal is to give back to her community as much as possible and contribute to the creative development of the youth in Jacksonville.
The three large murals are framed within black triangles against a white backdrop. Each triangle hosts a large face portrait, each of a different person. The portraits are painted photo-realistically, with a keen attention to shadows, lighting, and texture.
The large overarching triangles, which contain the portraits, are painted black and covered in an array of varying neon-colored textures. Small portions of text are horizontally woven throughout the textured backdrops. The text is suggestive of a call for worldwide remedial empathy and love as the solution to those things which plague our hearts and minds.