The 2020 SHINE Mural Festival, in partnership with PangeaSeed Foundation’s Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans, kicked off on November 7 with the theme Sea Walls: St. Petersburg. The goal of the public art program is to bring the oceans to the streets around the world via art for emotional connection and awareness that promotes action to protect them.
The St. Petersburg Arts Alliance selected a lineup of renowned Florida artists with a spotlight on the Tampa Bay area.
“We wanted this year to be heavily focused on local and regional artists. So many artists here have been impacted by COVID-19. Many have lost work and we wanted to do our part to support and create opportunities,” said Jenee Priebe, associate director/SHINE Mural Office of the St. Pete Arts Alliance.
This year’s festival, now in its sixth year, was impacted by the pandemic as well.
“This will be the smallest festival we’ve produced,” said Priebe. “We’ll be creating 12 murals instead of the typical 20. Our budget is smaller, the walls were harder to secure this year, we’re doing far fewer events and we’re working hard to keep the artists and the public as safe as possible so the art can still shine.”
For one week, each selected artist will paint a mural on designated walls, some with other artists. According to Priebe, walls are chosen based on factors such as visibility, location to other murals, size, texture and availability.
Each artist’s mural will highlight a different ocean issue relevant to the local environment. Sea level rise, plastic pollution, red tide, species at risk including manatees, rays, sharks and mangroves will be some of the highlighted topics.
We caught up with three local artists whose work is well-known to area art lovers and will be painting ocean-themed murals during this year’s festival, which runs through November 14.
Find more about the SHINE Mural Festival, print a map or download the app for self-guided tours here.
Jabari Reed, known as iBOMS, categorizes his art as “conscious nonsense.” He uses original characters and thought-provoking symbols to bring viewers into the worlds he creates, using his own life experiences as a young Black male.
“I develop a lot about what I know about the world from watching cartoons. Cartoon characters are something everyone can relate to. I use insane characters to describe deep concepts.”
His art can be seen in a mural he created with Derek Donnelly on the west wall of the Enoch Davis Community Center that was commissioned by the League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area this year encouraging people to vote by mail. His work is also displayed at the St. Pete ArtsXChange.
The SHINE mural will depict a wave pattern of harmful red algae blooms with fish and water underneath at Grand Central Brewhouse, located at 2340 Central Avenue.
iBOMS says he always liked to draw but didn’t think he could make a career of it. “I used to drive around St. Pete and see all the murals and thought I’d never be at that level,” he says. “I hope I can set an example for another kid who thinks like that.”
Elle LeBlanc creates locally in St. Petersburg and has pursued her art career via painting, murals, jewelry and clothing design and illustration. She loosely restricts herself to using the most basic colors and forms, focusing on primary colors and playful shapes. Finding inspiration in everyday objects, her work reimagines what is often seen as mundane, creating beauty from the ordinary.
“I love the idea that such pure elements of design can come together in a composition that has never been executed in quite the same way.”
Her mural will focus on raising awareness about ocean plastic pollution on the south wall of Brick Street Farms at 2233 Third Avenue South.
“I’ll be working with my typical pastel color palette and abstract shapes paired with illustrations to create a bright, playful mural that will hopefully create a sense of positivity and hope toward the idea of cleaning up our waterways. I wanted to take the opportunity to stay true to my colorful and abstract aesthetic and see how it works on a large scale.”
A longtime staple in the local creative scene, Mason Schwacke has been active in many galleries and art shows throughout the Tampa Bay area. He has been painting murals for the past seven years, including one at Brick Street Farms.
“My art is primarily based around childhood memories or dreams of mine. I play off a bright and uplifting color palette, generally utilizing an influence from my son.”
His mural, located at Hawk Diesel, 1400 Third Street South, will be a collaboration with artist Christian Thomas of Commitment Tattoo Shop. Their composition will highlight four indigenous sea creatures that are classified as endangered, and Schwacke has been working with NOAA back and forth on the concept.
“I’m excited to be a part of SHINE this year. Some of my favorite living artists have contributed in years prior, and I believe it says something about the quality of what I do to be selected.”