By now, the whole world knows that downtown St. Petersburg is a big ‘ol concrete canvas. There are something like 100 unique and colorful murals painted on the block, brick and stucco walls of businesses old and new, from the south side to the north, thanks to the SHINE Mural Festival.
SHINE 2021 – the seventh annual – commences Friday (Oct. 15), and 16 brand-new works of mural art, along with three “Bright Spot” community projects, will be created and added to the stretched community canvas before the festival is over on Oct. 24.
Here’s the coolest part – while visitors from near and far justifiably ogle (and Google) the St. Pete murals year-round, we as residents get the added value of watching as the artists create them, in real time.
That’s right, what we have here in St. Pete is a literal translation of the French expression en plein air, which painters use as a way to describe painting “in the open air.”
And this year, it only happens between Oct. 15 and 24.
Here’s a handy map provided by the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance (SHINE’s parent organization) to let you know where these 19 artists will be. You choose the hour – most (but not all) work from sunup to sundown. Drop by, say hello, watch the work in progress. Ask questions if you like (they’re expecting you to).
A word to the wise: These are artists, don’t forget, and they work at their own pace as well as marching to their own drummer. Be advised that if you wait till, say, Oct. 23 to visit, one or two of the artists might already be packed up and gone.
Our advice: Go early.
Based in Houston, muralist Emily Ding brings both a classicist and surrealist approach to her animal and human figures, with finely detailed feathers and fur woven into the creatures she creates, often in dreamlike tableaus alongside emotive human faces. Painting at Rob Graham Enterprises, 100 7th Street S. #1
Working at Colony Grill, 670 Central, Clearwater’s Jared Wright is a surrealist and illustrator, whose striking images are often cartoonlike in their simplicity, but nevertheless strike an emotional chord. He also creates paintings rich in color and character – “fun worlds, with loose narratives.” #2
Greg Mike (Mensching) is a pop art surrealist from Atlanta whose work shines through two laser-focused beams: Classic American cartoon art and skate culture/graffiti street art. His work, Mike told a journalist in 2020, is “taking everything that inspires me and melting and merging them all together in my brain to create something new. It’s a mix of cartoons and comics, colors, and a bit of new and old all blended together.” At Goldman Wetzel, 915 1st Avenue N. #3
Detroit’s Bakpak Durden wrote this self-description: “I’m an interdisciplinary fine artist. My work centers on community, black trans and queer representation and mental health advocacy. I primarily work in the realms of oil painting, photography, illustration, and murals.” Their astonishing hyper-realistic works have a primary focus on the human face and figure. At The Bends, 919 1st Avenue N. #4
Mwanel Pierre-Louis is a New Yorker of Haitian heritage, whose work, according to his website, “combines realism and abstraction in a narrative that draws from personal interactions and pop references.” As an illustrator, His clients include Starbucks, Fader Magazine, Adidas and Atlantic Records. Find him at Green Bench Brewing, 1100 1st Avenue N. #5
A native of New York and a resident of Hillsborough County, Jason Harvin (painting at Rick Noll Properties, 1211 1st Avenue N) was one of the creators of the Black Lives Matter mural at the Carter G. Woodson Museum in 2020. He is the owner of Wayward Walls, a boutique company that he says “will add the design pop you’ve always envisioned for your interior spaces.” #6
Michael Fatutoa is a Samoan native raised in Hawaii. His work consists of motifs from the ancient Art of the Samoan Tatau (tattooing) and other Polynesian crafts such as carvings and tapestries. In addition to his intricate drawing, painting and mural work, “Samoan Mike” is also a professional tattoo artist based in Tampa. Watch him create at Grayspeed, 2060 1st Avenue S. #7
Gleo at New Dawn Coffee Company, 2336 5th Avenue S. is considered one of the leading lights of the emergent Latin urban arts scene. The Colombian muralist is in tune with Central and South American culture and history, and imbues her brightly-colored work with what SHINE calls “elements that in turn create dialogue with the spaces built by the human imaginary.” #8
At Bayboro Brewing, 2343 Emerson Avenue S., drop by and say hello to Woes Martin, L.A. illustrator, designer and muralist famous for abstract fantasy animals (even the cute ones have fangs). Woes is all about the panda. “Pandas are passing through slowly, so I like to leave them everywhere,” he says. “Painting them pissed and aggravated, giving them an expression while posting them up everywhere is a fun thing. I enjoy it.” #9
Miami-based multi-media artist Nicole Salgar involves Latin folk art and sci-fi imagery into her work. It is at once idiosyncratic and universal – and impossible to ignore. She has painted murals in Barcelona and Mexico City. Salgar is the co-owner of NS/CB, a collaborative visual art company in South Florida. At Cimco Tile, 615 23rd Street S. #10
Jenipher Chandley of St. Petersburg paints with a self-described “romantic realism.” On her website, she calls her work “Vast in concept and style, but always human and relatable … humans are complex and ever changing, so our art should be as well.” At Cimco Tile, 625 23rd Street S. #11
Working on the walls of The Factory St. Pete, San Francisco muralist Ricky Watts is known nationwide for his abstract works of fluid shapes and psychedelic color patterns. To sprayplanet.com Watts said “I wish I could say that I chose art because it’d be a lot easier to quit if I could, but art is something that’s been inside me long before I knew what it was or knew that I wanted to be an artist.” 2622 Fairfield Avenue S. #12
Aurailieus Artist (aka Mark Stevens) is based in St. Petersburg; his striking works combine fine and urban art (not surprisingly, he claims graffiti and the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat as early inspirations). Working at Zen Glass Studio, 600 27th Street S. #13
Murals by Andres Von Chrzanowsk, aka Case Mclaim, can be seen in more than 20 countries. His street art combines photorealism – his close-ups of human hands are particularly well-known – with a touch of surrealism. The German artist will be working outside the Twisted Indian, 2641 Central. #14
Miss Crit is a St. Petersburg artist whose real name is Laura Spencer. Her sense of space, combined with an eye for detail and a unique storytelling style, make her paintings, murals, drawings and collaborations valued contributions to our arts scene. Absolutely Beautiful Flowers, 3000 Central. #15
Working at St. Pete Distillery, 800 31st Street S., Reid Jenkins is known for his photo-realistic people, whose faces have the classic look of Old Masters paintings, and his work, SHINE says, “reflects the intricacies of social dynamics within everyday life.” #16
These are “community project” murals, and there are three of them:
Tampa artist Jujmo (aka Cheryl Weber) is working with the Shirley Proctor Fuller Foundation to conduct a week-long mural-making course for young people, culminating in a hands-on mural experience at A-1 Recovery, 2221 5th Avenue S. #C
St. Petersburg’s Leo Gomez, accompanied by healthcare providers from Bayfront Health, will paint a tribute to those on the frontlines during the pandemic, right there on an outer wall at 744 6th Avenue S. #B
The Love Line Project: Tampa’s prolific Ya La’ford will create a mural including an illuminated neon sign featuring a phrase of positivity, voted on by the public. At 330 Beach Dr NE. #A
This weekend’s events
Friday, Oct. 15: Meet many of the artists, schmooze and otherwise hob-knob with the SHINE staff and members of the St. Pete arts community, 5 to 8 p.m., at the Morean Arts Center, 719 Central.
Saturday, Oct. 16: “Spraycation Day” 2-11 p.m. at Bayboro Brewing, 2390 5th Avenue S. It’s an all day par-tay to usher in SHINE ’21, with live music, art demos, live tattooing and more – and you can watch Woes Martin create his mural on the Bayboro wall while sipping on Spraycation, a new craft beer created just for the occasion.
Admission is free, but they’re asking (nicely) for a $5 donation, to help keep the SHINE coffers shiny.
More to come on closing weekend.
Art by Aurailieus Artist
Art by Case Mcclaim