By Katie Buckley
Jacksonville Florida Times-Union USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA
View the Article @ The Florida Times Union
Jacksonville-based Heartspace Art and Winn-Dixie chalked up a tribute to Duval County teachers in front of the Point Meadows Plaza store Tuesday morning.
With schools opening Thursday, store officials wanted to publicly display their gratitude for local teachers. Enter the art and event production company founded by Ian and Danielle Cleary.
From 7 a.m. to noon, the artistic duo and friend Samantha Clark used dozens of chalk sticks and aerosol chalk spray to draw a huge red apple, a pencil and a message of love to teachers.
Winn-Dixie commissioned the 1,000-square-foot display with something simple and old-school in mind, according to officials. Pieces this size normally cost about $5,000.
Parent company Southeastern Grocers also announced that each of its BI-LO, Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie grocery stores will decorate their entrance paths with the creative chalk tributes to teachers as they return to work both in person and virtually during the pandemic crisis.
The grocer also said it will donate about $272,000 in gift cards to school partners throughout the Southeast to help support teachers, staff and students during this unique school year.
Winn-Dixie had also commissioned a chalk mural from Heartspace for Nurses Week.
“We’re grateful for our teachers and think they’ll be our heroes for looking after the children of the future,” said Customer Service Manager Leslie Watkins.
Even though the art is temporary, the message still stands. This piece especially means a lot for the Clearys since Ian was a substitute teacher for Duval County for two years and they have two kids.
“Having kids has been such a drive for me because I want them to believe they can do whatever they want to do,” Danielle Cleary said. “Education is important and should be fun. Art can make it fun.”
Heartspace Art was founded three years ago by the Clearys. What started out as a love for art and human connection turned into a full-time art company. Throughout the years, their style has slowly turned to temporary art as their niche. Besides chalk murals, they also do body paint, illustration and paintings. Their slogan is “Murals with a message.”
“Our whole idea is to be able to share a message,” Danielle Cleary said. “Even if the mural doesn’t have words, we hide little words in our murals to put some positivity and intention into the painting.”
With the mural being drawn on the asphalt outside the store, some customers stood by to chat with the artists and watch their process before grocery shopping.
“It’s a beautiful design,” said Jeffrey Snead, a passing customer. “We need positive faith, family and friends. Teachers are the start of that because without them, our children don’t learn.”
Another said he’s been a teacher for 20 years and appreciated the gesture.