“Happy people inspire others. Inspired people change the world,” say Braden Everly and wife Alyssa Marie.
The couple are on their own mission to change the world, one sunflower at a time. The founders of The Happy Mural Project recently completed their latest mural, the Hands of Change community paint-by-number mural that adorns two walls of the St. Petersburg City Theatre at 4025 31st St. S. in St. Petersburg. The project was sponsored by the theater, Shine On St. Pete, the St. Pete Arts Alliance and the Pinellas Community Foundation.
More than 150 volunteer artists signed up for a block of time to help paint the mural that features multiple sets of Black and white hands clasped together holding a sunflower. One wall includes a line from John Lennon’s “Imagine” in the foreground against a backdrop of sunflowers: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”
The murals sprouting up around St. Pete are hard to miss: giant sunflowers against a brilliant turquoise sky adorn both businesses and residences. The Hands of Change mural is their sixth – numbers seven, eight and nine are planned before the end of the year.
When they moved to the area from Colorado, the Everlys opened an art gallery in downtown St. Pete to feature Alyssa’s paintings. They decided to close the gallery on January 1 and create a virtual gallery for her work. One day, as they were driving to an art festival in Sarasota, they started brainstorming about what they could create that would spread happiness. What is happiness? they asked. How does one define happiness?
“Then we thought of sunflowers,” says Braden. “There’s nothing but happiness when you see sunflowers.”
They emailed businesses about their idea and their first sunflower mural featured on the wall outside Lolita’s Catering & Events, 2735 5th Ave. N.
“Spreading happiness makes us feel incredible,” says Braden. “We believe that negativity can be amplified in the world, especially right now on social media. We’ve received wonderful comments on social media. The messages make us realize it’s a lot bigger than us.”
It’s hard to be unhappy when looking at one of Braden and Alyssa’s murals, or reading the messages on their Happy Mural Project Facebook page: “You matter,” posted one. “You are doing great and you are making a difference in the world.”
And always amid lots of sunflowers.