A canvas for bonafide artists and the general public alike, the Graffiti Bridge is a Pensacola landmark. The bridge is coated in thick layers of spray paint, serving as a message forum for sentimental tributes, community announcements, works of fine art, local business’ promotions and more.
On April 20, 2019, Empathic Practice commissioned artists Nate Lyle and Brandon Barnhart of Blue Collar Creatives, a local artist collective specializing in muralism and community enrichment through art, to beautify the Graffiti Bridge with a mural dedicated to promoting wellness and connection for all who pass through.
On one side of the bridge, a pillar is plastered with words central to the vision of Empathic Practice, with inscriptions like: Meditate. Relief. Patience. Relax. Mindfulness. Focus. Chill
Underneath, Empathic Practice’s logo is stenciled repeatedly, superimposed by imagery of green smoke. The bridge’s other pillar has the same green smoke shining through the block letters of an Empathic Practice slogan, reading: “How Do You Want to Feel Today?” The entire piece is riddled with peace signs, as well as the Empathic Practice logo.
“We back anything that promotes making you feel better or helps you solve your problems,” said Lyle.
The mural perfectly illustrates Empathic Practice’s mission to provide alternative wellness solutions to individuals through meditation, mindfulness, medical marijuana education and personal connection.
“Cool businesses like Empathic Practice have reached out, looking for another way to promote themselves,” said Barnhart. “Young people are taking charge and doing stuff for themselves. This gives them the opportunity to pass new jobs along to other young people.”
The collaborative artists, or “friends who take jobs together,” have been painting murals for almost half of the last decade.
With the rise of the entrepreneurial climate in Pensacola in recent years, and the inception of local businesses like Empathic Practice, the duo has seen a boom in commissioned work, including murals for local business openings like Rumble Training Center, a 12,000 square-foot gym, as well as Graffiti Pizza, a downtown Pensacola gem.
In June 2018, the duo gained national attention for their portrait of Anthony Bourdain, commissioned by the owner of LIVE! Juice Bar and More in downtown Pensacola, which was designed to promote suicide prevention.
“Before, you had to break down walls in order to be able to do [graffiti],” said Lyle. “Now, we have local businesses contacting us.”
Catch more of Blue Collar Creative’s work at the Alabama Contemporary Art Center’s Urban Wild Exhibit, starting May 10, 2019 in Mobile, Alabama and keep your eyes peeled for Empathic Practice’s mural on the Graffiti Bridge!