Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gulfport mural project draws a blank

GULFPORT — A wall in City Hall will remain bare, at least for the time being. A recent request to create a mural in council chambers yielded no takers.

In March, the city decided to seek bids from area artists for a mural to capture the history or character of the city. The back wall of the council chambers was the designated canvas, and artists would be required to incorporate the city's seal and two standing flags into the design.

Surprisingly for a city with an active arts community, a mandatory site meeting on July 15 went unattended.

Though the "Call for Artists" appeared as a legal notice in the Tampa Bay Times and in a weekly neighborhood paper and appeared on the city's website,, it apparently missed many of the very people the city needed — the artists.

Computer graphics artist Mike Eismont, who has been active in the area art scene for three years, knew nothing of the city's request.

"I'm not aware of any outreach to Gulfport's artists," he said. "If you want to get the community involved, you have to involve the community.''

Jennifer Salmon, who represents Ward 3, agrees that the city could have done a better job informing area artists.

"I'm unaware of any information shared directly with the art community,'' she said. "We have the Gulfport Arts Council, and the city has an arts advisory committee. I'm surprised we didn't make it a point to let more people know about the project.''

While Jonathan Schork, a highly visible member of Gulfport's art scene, was aware of the request, he readily admits that the information didn't penetrate the city's art community. He's also concerned the budget is low for such a project.

"It would probably cost twice as much as the $2,500 allocated," he said, adding that the idea of a mural representing Gulfport's eclectic personality is exciting.

Schork, who works in several mediums and serves on the boards of the City of Imagination and the Industrial Arts Center, hopes that if the council decides to reopen the bidding process, there could be a possibility of finding matching funds.

A 2011 "Call for Artists" — to create a sculpture at the north end of the city's Clymer Park — had a better response with five bids from area artists. The winning design, a whimsical ceramic sculpture that incorporates the city's beach, artistic and dining interests, was created by Gulfport artist Thomas Pitzen, who was paid $11,000.

City Manager Jim O'Reilly has said he will ask the council at its Aug. 8 workshop if it wants to reopen the mural project.

Ward 2 council member Christine Brown, who initially brought the mural idea to the council, thinks the call for bids should be reissued.

"I'd hate to see the project die," she said.

Diane Craig can be reached at

Gulfport mural project draws a blank 07/19/13 [Last modified: Friday, July 19, 2013 7:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida beats LSU, wins first College World Series title


    OMAHA, Neb. — Florida scored four runs in the eighth inning to pull away from LSU, and the Gators beat their SEC rival 6-1 Tuesday night to complete a two-game sweep in the College World Series finals for their first national title in baseball.

    UF’s Nelson Maldonado, left, and Deacon Liput high-five after a run scores.
  2. One killed, five injured in crash on Park Boulevard N in Pinellas Park


    Westbound lanes on Park Boulevard N have reopened at 62nd Way N in Pinellas Park following a fatal crash late Tuesday night.

  3. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman and Baker pull no punches in first forum

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.
  4. Wildlife officers look for answers in gopher tortoise deaths while reward money piles up


    The blood had already pooled when the bodies were found, bashed and beaten. One was dead. The other was still gasping, but it was too late.

    A gopher tortoise emerges from a bush to feed on vegetation on Thursday in 2016 at the Moccasin Lake Environmental Education Center in Clearwater. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is investigating the deaths of two tortoises that were beaten and their shells broken in Manatee County. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]