Wednesday, April 25, 2018
News Roundup

How that Tampa Tribune mural came to be

TAMPA

For artist Joan Griffin Burpee, it was a memorable commission.

The call came from Stewart Bryan, a Tampa Tribune publisher in the mid 1970s who would later become chairman of Media General, the Tribune's owner at the time.

As the Tribune prepared to move in 1975 from downtown Tampa to its new headquarters at 202 S Parker St., Bryan wanted Burpee to create a series of seven paintings, each commemorating and honoring the work of the pressmen who produced the newspaper each night.

At the Tribune's new headquarters, "they were changing from the old Linotype process," Burpee said from her South Tampa home.

Burpee, 82, studied painting at the University of Tampa, working primarily in acrylics and other water-based colors, typically on masonite.

She was accustomed to doing more personal works, often with mythological themes, not documenting the industrial cacophony of a newspaper going to press.

Burpee said she would go to the old Tribune building at Morgan and Kennedy to study how the pressmen worked.

"It was very loud, but I enjoyed the rush, rush, rush," Burpee said. "I would just stay at the Tribune and get a feel of the place."

She initially made charcoal sketches, then added acrylic paint. This painting, the largest of the seven, was done on canvas and originally hung in the Tribune's lobby.

Despite not having seen it in "many, many years," she said she's still pleased with the painting, after a Times reporter sent her a photo.

Burpee remains active in Las Damas de Arte, a local group that provides visual arts scholarships to students at the University of Tampa, Hillsborough Community College and the University of South Florida.

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