For the upcoming seventh edition of the SHINE Mural Festival, director Jenee Priebe says, we’re gonna party like it’s 2019.
The event, during which downtown murals are created – live and in real time – takes place Oct. 15-24.
Last year, SHINE took a hit from Covid-19. Because of the ongoing emergency, Tallahassee vetoed a palette of arts funding, including the expected grant for St. Petersburg’s annual plein air mural festival.
That was a body blow for SHINE, as was the international travel ban, which meant no overseas artists could come to town. In fact, national muralists weren’t even getting on airplanes.
So things were scaled back in 2020. The festival was limited to Florida artists, those who could theoretically drive here. There were zero special events. It was a mini-SHINE.
“I wouldn’t say it was disappointing,” Priebe explains. “We just had to adjust our expectations for what it was. I think we’ve come to know and love SHINE as a specific thing in the community … and everything about last year was different. I think SHINE reflected that.”
To keeps costs down, SHINE partnered in 2020 with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and the PangeaSeed Foundation. The result was a “themed” mural-painting event – everything had to be centered, somehow, around marine conservation.
For 2021, no theme. “This year,” says Priebe, “we’re getting back to art for art’s sake. We’ve got a full lineup, with 18 artists on the main roster.”
At least two of them are crossing oceans to get to St. Pete. GLeo, a native of Cali, Colombia, paints brightly-colored street art with the vibrant tones of South American history and ceremonial culture.
“My work is well known for the yellow-eyed masks,” she told the website isupportstreetart.com. “But I try to be more than masks, it’s about beings and stories of characters that represent elements such as fire, water, earth, the universe, disguised humans, hetereo (sic) beings that are always in the duality of the real and the oneiric.”
From Frankfurt, Germany comes Case McCaim, aka Andreas von Chrzanowski, whose photorealist works embrace the power of movement through the depiction of hands.
National artists are Greg Mike (Atlanta), Ricky Watts (San Francisco), Mwanel Pierre-Louis (Miami) Emily Ding (Houston), Bakpak Durden (Detroit), Woes Martin (Los Angeles) and Nicole Salgar (Miami).
Local artists: Jenipher Chandley, Jared Wright, Jason Harvin, Miss Crit, Michael Fatutoa, Reid Jenkins, Aurailieus Artist (Open Call winner).
The downtown walls to be painted have been chosen, their contracts signed, but not yet assigned to particular artists.
Although the 2020 conservation theme was quite well-received, “we’re thrilled to just let the artists do what they do,” according to Priebe. “That’s really been the foundation of SHINE from the beginning, anyway.”
Priebe and her all-volunteer staff, under the umbrella of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, begin working on each year’s SHINE logistics in early spring. “A lot of it just comes down to funding,” she says. “Every year, we start with zero dollars and we fundraise like crazy.”
The City of St. Pete contributes $30,000 towards each year’s budget (“The city is wonderful; they give us our grant every year, which is amazing”). For 2021, the State of Florida matched that grant.
The SHINE annual budget – for 2019, and for this year – is approximately $170,000. Corporate sponsorships and donations make up the rest.
Also on tap (literally) for 2021 is a kickoff party at Bayboro Brewing, which is creating a special SHINE beer called Spraycation (that’s a word mural artists use to describe a painting trip to a distant and desirable city, like St. Petersburg). Priebe describes it as a “strawberry orange passionfruit ale.”
There’ll be a SHINE exhibition with the works of 77 local artists at Mize Gallery, opening at the end of the festival.
Also on the schedule are these special projects, called “Bright Spots”:
Jujmo with the Shirley Proctor Puller Foundation: Tampa artist Jujmo leads a week-long mural making educational course, culminating in hands-on mural experience for the young artists.
Bayfront Health St. Pete’s Tribute to Health Care Heroes: St. Petersburg artist Leo Gomez will design a mural tribute to doctors, nurses and other frontline workers that have braved the devastation of Covid-19, at 744 6th Ave S. Bayfront healthcare providers will paint alongside him.
The Love Line Project: Local artist 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.
The exact economic impact of SHINE is unknown, although a survey taken several years ago indicated that more than 65 percent of mural visitors were from outside Pinellas County.
Among art aficionados, St. Petersburg’s reputation as a City of the Arts is surely bolstered by the dozens of murals that have been created since SHINE was established in 2015.
Will the city ever run out of unpainted walls? Priebe waxes philosophical.
“It gets increasingly difficult to find walls year after year, but this year was especially challenging,” she reports. “I don’t know if it’s just also because of the impacts of Covid that we’re still feeling – a lot of property’s changing hands, and a lot of spaces are empty. A lot of things have been shifting around.”
Ah, but the intangible nature of art … “I think that part of the beauty of it is that murals don’t last forever. They’re not meant to last forever. If you love the art, appreciate it while it’s there … because it’s going to be gone some day.”