The 352walls project, involving a dozen internationally known street artists, has given the downtown area a dramatic facelift. Tonight’s Artwalk is a great opportunity to view the completed artwork.
To passersby on Southwest 2nd Street, the large mural on the wall across from Volta Coffee could be almost any hard-charging football player. But the man who painted the image, Miami-based street artist Reggie O’Neal, knows exactly who the player is. Or, sadly, was.
Richard Hallman never got to play college football like his cousin, current UF starting quarterback Treon Harris. That’s because earlier this year, the 16-year-old Hallman was shot and killed in Miami’s Overtown section. Two other teenagers have been charged in his death.
“I watched [Hallman] grow up,” said O’Neal, who uses the tag L.E.O. for his street art. “I wanted to paint something that related to Treon and to Overtown. It [the murder] happened in my neighborhood and took a huge toll on everyone there.”
O’Neal’s mural is one of eight recently added to the downtown streetscape by internationally known artists as part of 352walls/The Gainesville Urban Art Initiative. The last of the artists finished up work on Thanksgiving morning, leaving Gainesville’s downtown area more visibly appealing than ever.