Ready, Set, Paint...But Much Later.
As January 2019 began, I knew that the City of Oviedo was soon to come to a decision regarding which design would be chosen for Round Lake Park. I had no idea how many other submissions there were, nor the breadth of experience exemplified, but I awaited the result. On January 8, I found out that my design proposal had been ranked first out of nine entries! I knew there were other local muralists who had more experience than I, but in speaking to the Oviedo Public Arts Board, they expressed that it was my extensive research and purposeful representation thereof, that sealed the deal.
“I was anxious to see how the local community would feel about the mural design when it was unveiled. For many, the figures depicted weren't just people from historical records - they were friends and family.”
The public reveal of the Black History of Oviedo mural design was set for January 21, 2019, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at Round Lake Park. I wasn't explicitly told that I would need to make any remarks, but something in my gut said that I should. After all, this would be a mural of great importance to the local community, and I didn't want to trip over my words expressing why.
In 15 years of living in Oviedo, I had never attended the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at Round Lake Park. There's so much of Oviedo's culture I have yet to experience, yet am in the thick of! People were everywhere, and musicians, public officials, and many more individuals gathered to honor not only Dr. King, but his advocacy of civil rights for all peoples - territory we still find ourselves navigating today. About halfway through the proceedings, I was invited to the stage to unveil my design and speak about what it represented. I'm a teacher, so I'm used to speaking in front of others, but it becomes very different when it's such a large crowd! Regardless, I referenced the mural rendering which had been enlarged for all to see, and gave an overview of all the features I planned to incorporate. Members of the Oviedo Public Arts Board spoke as well, expressing their excitement to see this addition to the park. Afterward, I was introduced to several individuals who had personal connections to individuals depicted in the design, and was able to get some new details on specific African-American women who and factored into Oviedo's history, something that was hard to come by in all the research I had done and necessitated interviews with primary sources. The weather was brisk, but my heart was warmed by the positive reception the proposed mural had.
I eagerly anticipated being able to start work on the mural, in order to beat the heat of painting in the summer, however Round Lake Park Improvements prevented that. But everything happens for a reason! During that time, I was not only able to revise the mural to include more women, but I was able to hone my mural-making skills by creating the Postcard Mural for Oviedo on the Park! Just how that happened though, is a tale for next time, in Mural Mayhem, Pt. 3!