When people support the Wildlife Corridor Foundation Mural Project in Brooksville, they’ll get the rare opportunity to celebrate the wildlife of Florida and support those sublime artistic expressions that capture the natural beauty discovered in the Sunshine State. Additionally, they will provide funding for award-winning artist Justin Alsedek to paint the largest mural in the history of Brooksville on the walls of city hall. The mural, set to debut this October, will highlight the beauty of the Florida Wildlife Corridor and Brooksville’s role in protecting this nearly 18-million-acre network of connected lands and water.
The mural project is a partnership between Brooksville Main Street, the Florida Wildlife Corridor, and the City of Brooksville, with support from Florida Cracker Kitchen. The unveiling will be at 11 am on Oct. 14 at a ribbon cutting planned during Brooksville Founder’s Day activities.
What is the wildlife corridor? This habitat area links wildlife populations that are geographically apart due to human activity or structures. According to information supplied through Brooksville Main Street, the Brooksville area is a critical link in the Florida Wildlife Corridor, one that, overall, connects the Green Swamp with the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge and the Nature Coast.
This vulnerable stretch of the corridor contains unprotected gaps between several blocks of the Withlacoochee State Forest. It is a refuge for many unique Florida plants and wildlife and is a renowned destination for outdoor recreation. Without thoughtful conservation, fragmentation will disrupt important ecosystem connections, resulting in diminished wildlife and degraded water quality. Corridor fragmentation would also have a negative impact on the local economy by harming outdoor recreation and ecotourism.”
The Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation was established to raise awareness about the corridor and is currently hosting a mural project in various cities throughout the state and along the corridor that will serve to represent the rich natural beauty and varieties of wildlife found right here in Hernando County.
The Executive Director of Brooksville Main Street, Natalie Kahler, seeks to educate residents about the Wildlife Corridor, and after learning more information about a statewide effort to promote and preserve the corridor, she suggested Brooksville as a site for a wildlife mural project. She developed a strong line of communication with the administrators of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation, who are working to establish connections with Main Street organizations serving communities along the Corridor.
The foundation will be sponsoring the mural, which Kahler said will be the largest in Brooksville.
“We all know that this is an area of great natural beauty. What we need to do is educate people that Brooksville is a home for wildlife—a place of shelter and protection,” she said. “We need to save the corridor to make room for both land and buildings.”
The mural project is intended to cultivate pride in residents that intersect with the most at-risk and sensitive ecosystems within the Corridor. “Public art instills a greater sense of identity in the areas we work, live, and visit. It inspires contemplation, raises questions, and starts conversations,” read the information supplied through Brooksville Main Street. “The story is told through art and digital content that connects the observer with the Corridor’s plants and animals and prioritizes the significance of Brooksville within the Corridor.”
In Kahler’s mind, the Wildlife Corridor mural project aligns perfectly with the mission and values of Brooksville Main Street to educate as many people as possible about Brooksville. The mural will feature seven animals that can be found in Hernando County, including the Osceola turkey and the indigo snake. It will be a beautiful outdoor scene with many flowers, plants, and trees.
The Brooksville Mural Dinner, a fundraiser for the Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation scheduled for September 21 at the Florida Cracker Bourbon Barn event space, promises to be an evening of conservation and community. Aside from a dinner and auction, the event will feature a short, award-winning film featuring an expedition through Florida’s Nature Coast and a special appearance by mural artist Justin Alsedek, who will speak about his creative process and vision for capturing the beauty of the Florida Wildlife Corridor. This event is sold out; however, people can donate to the Florida Wildlife Corridor and the mural project at https://floridawildlifecorridor.org/donate-2/.
“Justin, who we’ve been working with for years, seemed like the natural choice for this project. We love his work, and he does beautiful wildlife art,” said Kahler.
Alsedek is thrilled to serve as the featured artist in the Wildlife Corridor project. “I’m very excited and honored to be working on this project,” he said.
Alsedek has a genuine love for wildlife art. “It definitely makes it mean more to me that beyond being a beautiful mural, it has the intended purpose of helping bring more awareness to our natural world (in this case, specifically the Florida wildlife corridor) and hopefully spark interest in those who didn’t know they needed it,” he said.
Alsedek said that his planned Wildlife Corridor mural will be 22’x35’ and will be painted with exterior house paint, along with a bit of spray paint. And a lot of love for the Brooksville environment.