Art Comes to 49th Street


Keith Stillwagon

Keith Stillwagon’s mural will face Gulfport Boulevard at the plaza’s east end; Michael Eismont and the Pach/Schork interactive murals will face west.

The long-awaited community art project will soon take shape at Gulfport Square, the shopping plaza at the southwest corner of Gulfport Boulevard and 49th Street. Banners emblazoned with the words “Community Art Project Coming Soon” have teased the locals for some time.

“This has been a year in the process,” Michelle Kotewa, the owner of the Liberty Tax franchise in Gulfport Square, says. Her office has the six art submissions, including the three winners, on display.

After struggling to garner submissions, Kotewa told the Gabber, the steering committee extended the deadline until November 20. Ultimately, the committee – comprised of Kotewa, Phil Reed and Andrea Royce – selected three winning submissions.

Internationally known muralist Keith Stillawagon, painter Michael Eismont, and mixed-media artists Owen Pach and Jonathan Schork will provide three murals that will adorn Gulfport Square. Pach and Schork will jointly create a movable mural while Eismont and Stillwagon will paint their murals.

“We thought it would be a good spot to have murals depicting our town,” Kotewa said.

The project will cost about $3,300, although Kotewa says the steering committee is “still trying to get exact figures.” So49, the South 49th Street business association (of which Royce and Kotewa are officers and Reed’s wife is president), contributed money towards the murals.

Kotewa praised Gulfport Square owner Jim DeFoe for his contribution of space, for resurfacing the face of the building, and for improvements to the look of the plaza.

“We’re trying very hard to help the community and stimulate what we’re doing here,” Kotewa said. “The improvements bring pride to the community, and we’re trying to enhance that.”

DeFoe says the murals will draw focus to the 49th Street area of town.

“There is some opportunity here,” he said.

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