Some would say sports and the arts have been the pillars to the City of Orlando’s growth. But the two very segregated worlds seldom cross paths. For the first time in downtown there is a canvass where we get to see the two collide. Our Despina Barton explains why a piece of art on Robinson Street is uniting both:

  • Downtown Orlando mural features Ashlyn Harris and Alex Morgan
  • US Soccer chose local artists Samantha Shumaker and Ryan Semples 
  • First sports mural downtown to feature defined players

Twenty-five year old Samantha Shumaker, a Liberty High School grad, is building up her art portfolio.

“I love doing portraiture but with a very melty, very abstract kind of feel to it at the same time,” Shumaker said of her work.

So when the US Soccer Federation reached out to her to be the “Orlando” artist for its World Cup campaign, it was a no brainer.

“I was like “ahhh” Yes!” Shumaker said of getting the call. “I have been experimenting with murals as of late and they probably saw my portfolio there and ‘like she’s the one’—I am so honored.”

Shumaker and her partner Ryan Semple jumped at the task of making a few renderings come to life.

“We normally work with exterior house paint,” Semple said. “So this has been like a challenge for us to learn how to use spray paint a little bit better.”

The two marching out, unpacking their tools and getting to work on the 15 foot by 30 foot mural alongside the intersection of Orange Ave and Robinson; all to be a part of history in the ‘City Beautiful’.

“It’s the first time I actually seen original works of art with athletes faces on them,” City of Orlando Chief City Planner Jason Burton said. “But when Orlando City Soccer first started they did a series of murals throughout the town.”

But not one had a distinct athlete featured until now. This mural features U.S. Women’s National team members and Orlando Pride players Ashlyn Harris and Alex Morgan --ahead of FIFA World Cup play next month.

And while both Samantha and Ryan admitted to not being huge sports fans, they knew about the women they were painting and could relate.

“I like attending the (sporting) events more than watching them on TV,” Semple said. “I think there is something about the energy when you get in a stadium and everyone is really rawled up about the team that. It’s kind of like arts fun to look at online but when you go to the shows there’s so much more energy because you are interacting with the people that are supporting it.”

Something the two experienced nearly every day working on the mural.

“What I love about doing public art is that it’s something everyone can appreciate,” Shumaker added. “People who are walking by and so I get to talk to people and they always tell me about someone they know who’s an artist, someone that is growing up that loves doing art.”

“I love when I see the worlds merge of anything, especially arts and sports.”

And while it’s not hard to find street art around downtown Orlando this beautiful clash of worlds speaks to a new trend. 

“As we are growing up as a city and becoming more urban to include art along with whatever is happening in the city and the fact that its sports related it’s kind of exciting for everyone,” Burton said.

For the young artists, the city and for the national players—the level of pride is at an all time high.

The U.S. Women's National team opens up World Cup play June 11 against Thailand.