CLEARWATER — The bad news: A trip to the beach doesn't guarantee a sighting of dolphins, a sea turtle or a gliding manta ray.
The good news: The marine wildlife will soon splash onto the Clearwater Beach skyline as part of a Guy Harvey original mural, scheduled to be completed before summer's end.
The mural, as long as a commuter bus, will be affixed to a curved metal sheet down the side of the newly opened Surf Style parking garage and swim shop, next to the Hyatt Regency resort. The underwater scene will face the beach.
Harvey, a Jamaican who lives in Grand Cayman, is best known for his T-shirt portraiture of marlins and sharks. The shirts have joined Croakies and boat shoes as high angler fashion. His artwork is displayed in exhibits, in sporting goods stores and at fishing tournaments. In addition to painting marine wildlife, he studies it: He holds a doctorate in fisheries management from the University of the West Indies.
Harvey's mural, which cost the parking garage developers more than $100,000, had already received preliminary approval from the city, and it received final approval from Clearwater's Public Art and Design Board on Thursday. In Clearwater, big-ticket developers must spend 1 percent of construction costs on public art.
When crews finish its installation within three weeks, the painting will become the biggest mural on the beach, said city cultural affairs specialist Chris Hubbard.
Over time, it could symbolically take the place of the old Spyglass Resort's hot-air balloon mural, painted in 1978 by Clearwater native Roger Bansemer. The resort, along with its iconic mural that could be seen from the mainland, was demolished in 2008.
Gili Ovaknin, a project manager for the parking garage, said Harvey's painting will help draw attention to the outsized swim shop, which will soon include a FlowRider indoor surf machine.
"We consider this to be one of the landmarks on Clearwater Beach," Ovaknin said.
Harvey painted the scene with acrylics on canvas, but the mural will be reproduced in 3M vinyl, similar to a bus wrap. The 44-by-24-foot mural will hang about 30 feet above ground, near the winding Beach Walk.
In the mural, dolphins, a turtle and a ray fraternize with a small cluster of fish. Pier 60 is visible above the water and juts from the tree-fringed Clearwater skyline, punctuated by the Hyatt and the out-of-scale parking garage.
Near the top is a surreal touch: Harvey's mural on the side of the garage, a painting within a painting.
Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 445-4170 or email@example.com.