New arrivals to St. Petersburg will notice the unusually large number of non-commercial murals – that is, large-scale art for art’s sake – on business walls in the downtown and adjacent districts. It’s not that the city has an abundance of creatively motivated graffiti artists; the murals are where they are for specific reasons, created by specific painters.
Established five years ago by the Arts Alliance of St. Petersburg, with a seed grant from the City of St. Petersburg, the SHINE Mural Festival has brightened up (some might call it enlightened) an otherwise unspectacular cityscape; since its inception back in 2015, more than 60 exceptional murals have been curated and created.
The 2019 SHINE artists have been chosen, and as you read this they’re in full prep mode, scoping out their assigned wallspaces, sketching, mocking up, assembling brushes, spray canisters and the other tools of the trade and mixing paints.
This Friday, October 18, it’s go time. They’ve got eight days to complete the work (although most do it in less time). The Arts Alliance provides the hydraulic lifts and platforms.
A mural is, of course, the very definition of public art, and during the process of creation anyone who wants to will be able watch all 34 artists at work; depending on how buy they are at any particular moment, they’re generally happy to receive visitors and answer questions.
This year, there are five international, four national and 25 local artists, including 13 wall artists, 12 Corner Canvas murals and one bus. This week in the Catalyst, we’ll tell you a little about all of them, and point to their site locations.
Let’s start with the five international artists who’ll be visiting St. Pete for SHINE.
Shok-1 (Great Britain). Born in Birmingham, Shok-1 began spray painting the streets in 1983, but it wasn’t until 10 years later that he quit his day jobs (as a social worker and a chemist) to travel internationally as an aerosol artist and mural creator. His trademark is the X-ray mural, eerily translucent and blending science (the human skeleton) and whimsy (not everything is scientifically … correct). And it’s all done freehand with spray cans; he does not use stencils or tape. Location: Founders Professional, 2038 1st Avenue S.
George Rose (Australia). Ms. Rose, from Melbourne, is a graphic designer whose mural work is bright and unpredictable. “My career path was determined when at 18 years old, I shut my eyes and pointed at university offers to decide which course to accept for the next few years,” she told an interviewer. “It just so happened that I blindly pointed to graphic design. Several years later, I decided to throw caution to the wind and abandon formal graphic design training, opting instead to pursue a multidisciplinary-art-practice. It must be noted, however, that graphic design provided me with the skills to understand composition, conceptual thought, scale and typography.” Location: Campbell Park Recreation Center, 601 14th Street S.
Low Bros (Germany). Hamburg-born and Berlin-based brothers Christoph and Florin Schmidt began the artist life as graffiti writers Qbrk and Nerd, before moving on (circa 2011) to a highly stylized form of retro-futuristic wall work, usually centered around animal characters with human features, with elements of graffiti, hip hop, skateboarding and other things which influenced and shaped the artists’ youth in the 1980s and ‘90s. As graffiti artists, the siblings said in a joint 2015 interview, they “learned how to develop our own techniques and create our own styles. But we also went to art school, where we dealt with various artistic genres that go further than the clearly defined field of graffiti.” Location: Nova 535, 535 Dr, MLK Street N.
Paola Delfin (Mexico). Her large-scale depictions of women look like finely-chiseled black and white sketches of strength, vulnerability, hope, fear and a far-reaching femininity. The Mexico City-bred artist has created them in Guatemala, England, Spain, Poland, Columbia, Brazil, Peru, Puerto Rico, Cuba, China, the United States and her home country, giving an intriguing new look to urban landscapes. Location: Morph, 1833 1st Avenue S.
Taj Tenfold (Jamaica). Taj Francis, aka Tenfold, is a rising star in the world of distinctive Caribbean art; his work brings together elements of Jamaican culture, from reggae and hip hop and a beach aesthetic, and applies Japanese manga, baroque paintings and 20th century pop art. Here’s what he said to Manifesto Jamaica: “I spent a majority of my time creating comics, and trying to mimic Japanese manga. A lot of my drawings from childhood were kind of fantasy themes. I wanted to create graphic novels, really. I honestly don’t see it so much as change, as it is all those things culminated to the path I’m on now.” Location: FRS Team by Rogers, 1720 Central Ave.
For more on the 2019 SHINE Mural Festival, click here.