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Two SWFL Artists Selected to Paint Dunbar's Historic McCollum Hall

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Fort Myers Mural Society Facebook page

A contest launched to select an artist to grace the walls of Dunbar’s historic McCollum Hall has yielded two winners.

Built in the late 1930s, McCollum Hall served as an entertainment venue for decades. Such esteemed artists as Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald performed there.

The Fort Myers Mural Society collaborated with the Fort Myers Public Art Committee to recruit artists to submit original designs for a mural on the north wall of the building that would memorialize the building's history. The mural will span across seventeen concrete panels, measuring eight feet by eighteen feet each.

The Public Art Committee met Thursday to hear design pitches from contest finalists, J.P. Almonicid and Erik Schlake. Stakeholders and community members were invited to provide input.

Ft. Myers resident Almonacid told the committee his design was inspired by the history of McCollum Hall, specifically the backyard musicians, the dancers, and the soldiers.

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Elements presented by J.P. Almonicid for his McCollum Hall mural submission.

Schlake, a New Yorker who now lives in Ft. Myers, described his piece as an homage to Art Deco, and said his design was inspired by the community and its people, rather than the building itself.

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Design elements presented by McCollum Hall mural finalist Erik Schlake to the Ft Myers Public Art Committee.

Shari Shifrin, Executive Director of the Fort Myers Mural Society, suggested that both artists contribute to the mural.

“The board of directors of the Mural Society really feel that we can create these 17 panels using both artists,” Shifrin said. “Some portions of this mural will complement each other while diversifying the view.”

The Public Art committee passed the motion to include both artists on the mural.

The Fort Myers Mural Society hopes Almonacid and Schlake will begin their work in early January and complete it by April 2021.

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Michelle Alvarez
Finalists Erik Schlake (left), and J.P. Almonacid pose at the Ft. Myers Public Art Committee meeting where both artist were selected to work on the McCollum Hall mural project.

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