Pop-Up Art Tour


Main Street Bartow’s Pop-Up Art Tour Becomes a Project for Progress

Main Street Bartow, Inc. put a new spin on economic development with an innovative approach to attracting attention to unoccupied buildings and spaces in their Main Street District. Following the current Pop-Up Art Gallery craze—with a slight twist—Main Street Bartow displayed local artwork alongside building spec sheets in the windows of ten unoccupied buildings. While a short-term beautification project, it has the long-term potential to bolster occupancy rates downtown.

Main Street Bartow Executive Director, Laura Simpson, was eager to share how the concept came about.  “After reading about pop-ups galleries and touring a few in South Florida, members of our Design Committee shared a desire to bring this concept to Bartow. The Design Committee was looking for ways to improve the aesthetics of some of our empty storefronts, while our Economic Redevelopment Committee was working on ways to fill the spaces.  This effort was the perfect marriage of both needs for downtown Bartow.”

Main Street Bartow’s Pop-Up Art Tour launched in August, showcasing AppArt works in the windows of available downtown buildings.
(left) Artwork on display at 120 Central Avenue. (right) Artist Kelly Mims White poses with her piece at 330 E. Main Street.

Once the concept of a Pop-Up Art Tour was approved, the type of art displayed was discussed. “We discussed various photography mediums, formal paintings and other artistic elements; however, when the idea of AppArt was presented we jumped at the opportunity to do something new, innovative, and inclusive of everyone with a smart phone,” noted Simpson.  Creating artwork with AppArt is simple, fun and easy to do. Just take a picture of something--without a copyright infringement--and then edit it on a smart phone using various editing apps. Anyone can become an artist and the results are amazing.

After the call to artists went out, over seventy-five art pieces were submitted. Fifteen piece by six different artists were ultimately selected to be featured in the project, including Jaci Swarts of Melbourne, Barbara Canning of Lakeland, Cathrine Pfeiffer of Miami, Virginia Condello of Highland City, and Trish Pfeiffer and Kelly Mims White of Bartow. 

Artist Virginia Condello poses with her artwork at 395 E. Main Street. Building spec sheets with space details and potential usage ideas are posted to the right of the piece.

“The fifteen pieces of art were selected to appeal to various viewers,” explains Simpson.  “We had a beautiful piece of a bicycle in a local yard, a dog an artist interacted with at the beach, and also abstract pieces.”

Once selected, the pieces were printed and installed in storefront windows by volunteers.

The artists were invited to launch the Pop-Up Art Tour exhibition with an opening reception held during Main Street Bartow’s Main Street Friday Fest, a monthly block party featuring live music, vendors, children’s activities, and food and drink. The artists joined a walking tour of Pop-Up Art locations, sharing their stories behind the pieces along the way. 

Along with the artwork, fact sheets featuring building specs and space, as well as some suggested ideas and potential possibilities for use, were included at each of the Pop-Up Art locations.

“Our downtown property owners and local real estate agents eagerly embraced the idea and funded the printing the artwork displayed in their storefront,” said Simpson. “The added exposure of the properties is a win-win in our partnership with those looking to lease or sell properties downtown.”

 (left) Front and back of Pop-Up Art Building Tour “pocket card” (right) Detail of “pocket card”

Pop-Up Art is displayed so it is easily viewed by pedestrian and drive-by traffic alike. Artwork freshens up the vacant spaces, drawing attention to what could become a successful business opportunity or potentially a vibrant office space.  The information displayed with the artwork encourages entrepreneurs, or someone thinking about going into business, to seek the help and guidance of Bartow’s many business-supporting organizations—which include Main Street Bartow, Inc., the Bartow Community Redevelopment Authority, Bartow Chamber of Commerce, and Bartow’s Small Business Administration. 

Pop-Up Art Building Tour “pocket cards” are posted next to the art in storefronts and are also available at the Main Street office, downtown retailers and the Polk County Historical Museum, located on Main Street. Each pocket card lists all fifteen artworks, buildings, spaces, and realtor contact information, and serves a self guided tour.

The current Pop-Up Art Building Tour will be up until February 2016, when it will be replaced with a new series of art, depending, of course, on building and space availability. The type of artwork will change but the concept of mixing art with economic development will only continue to grow.

For more information please call Main Street Bartow, Inc. at (863) 519-0508 or email Executive Director Laura Simpson at lsimpson@mainstreetbartowfl.com.

How to Plan a Pop-Up Art Tour:

  1. Create a call to artist noting the type of artwork to be selected.  Distribute through media and local art guilds. (3 months out)
  2. Visit with local sign shop/printer to determine the cost and appropriate sizes of artwork. Make sure artwork complies with sign ordinances.  Also, consider the material and how it will withstand sun, heat, etc.  (3 months out)
  3. Visit with property owners and their real estate agents, confirming access for installation.  Discuss potential uses they would like conveyed and appropriate contact information to share on promotional materials. Secure reimbursement of funding for printing of artwork and invoice for such.  (3 months out) (Bartow’s cost was approximately $50 a piece to print. Volunteers installed the pieces.)
  4. Choose an impartial selection committee to review pieces submitted and select artwork.  Reach out to the artists selected with waivers for artwork uses and obtain high resolution images.  Also reach out to those artists not selected. (2 months out)
  5. Create “pocket card” of artwork and building contact information. (1 month out)
  6. Create media release of artwork and release date. (1 month out)
  7. Install artwork. (1 week out)
  8. Host launch event, inviting media, artists, property owners, and local VIPs.