Northside Park in Gainesville has added to its recent expansion with a new mural from world-renowned artist Ernesto Maranje.
Maranje’s art often focuses on flora and fauna, so he took his inspiration for the Gainesville mural from the wildlife of Paynes Prairie. What was once a plain, cream-colored wall is now a massive painting of a wild horse running through vibrant foliage.
Maranje hopes the mural can be a point of interest for locals and spark inspiration for creativity in the community.
“While I’m painting, kids often come up to me and ask questions or talk to me about drawing,” Maranje said. “So I think it’s a great way to expose people to a creative outlet while hopefully adding some beauty to the community.”
Maranje, 37, didn’t begin his artistic career until his 20s, but it has become a major part of his life.
“I had to paint a California flag for a project in the Coast Guard,” Maranje recalled. “After that I started playing around with paint and drawing non-stop. It’s been a passion ever since.”
The Miami native has completed murals in numerous locations around the United States and abroad, including Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Greece, and Spain. His largest mural, which is some 16 stories high, is on display in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Gainesville’s Wild Spaces and Public Places program and the Gainesville Art in Public Places Trust teamed up to fund the mural. Maranje said he was excited when Raquel Vallejo contacted him on behalf of the 352walls project. The location of the new mural gave Maranje the chance to explore more opportunities to evolve his style.
“This wall is a racquetball court with a few windows, so it’s fun to incorporate my design into that shape,” Maranje said.
Two Gainesville residents, Ann McClure and Sherry Brown, watched Maranje as he worked on the mural last week. They are happy that the city is putting more effort into incorporating art throughout the area.
“This will create another arena of interest in the park for those who might not want to play on the racquetball court or the playground,” McClure said.
“Having something artistic here just sparks some more conversation,” Brown added, “maybe a little kid will see it and want to go home and paint something.”
Maranje completed the mural on January 30th after five days of painting.