Saturday, February 24, 2018
Opinion

Mural pops up on distinctive downtown St. Petersburg property

When popular artist Ales Hostomsky, a.k.a. Bask, began prep work for a mural on the side of a local tattoo parlor, it wasn't without controversy.

Questions quickly surfaced about who owned the wall that he was commissioned to paint.

Ownership of the wall came down to a matter of inches — 18 to be exact.

This year, when rehab specialist Maryann Lynch was about to add another property to her massive portfolio, she learned that it came with rare amenities: two parking lots and 18 inches of the adjacent property, Foolish Pride Tattoos and Piercings at 648 Central Ave. And that property includes Foolish Pride's eastern facade.

Lynch, owner of Times Square Properties with 96 properties in the Sunshine City, said she has always loved the Marbleside Building at 33 Sixth St. S, just to the east, home to City Gym and LabCorp.

"It's my favorite," she said, adding that it's the only mid-century modern building in downtown St. Petersburg.

Lynch said she learned about the parking lots and the Foolish Pride wall during the walk-through before closing on the Marbleside property.

"Cornerstone (Bank) had gotten an appraisal done before I closed on the property. During the walk-through, I was shown the survey.

"So before I even purchased the building, I thought, 'Bask is going to do a mural here.' "

But the project was delayed by the controversy as well as sorting out one other matter.

Another artist had started to paint over an existing mural on the wall. So Lynch dispatched her property manager to the tattoo parlor to inquire about it.

The back and side walls of the buildings that line Central Avenue between Sixth and Eighth streets have become a sprawling canvas for murals.

As her legal team sorted out the matter, Lynch moved to seal a deal on the mural.

She even had the wall painted white to make a clean canvas for Bask.

"Bask has a busy schedule, so I had to wait until he was available to do it," she said.

As luck would have it, Bask, who is based on Seminole, has always wanted to do a mural on Central Avenue.

"So it was a perfect marriage," Lynch said.

Lynch, who describes herself a Bask groupie, owns four of his original works.

"I think he is the bomb," she said.

She isn't alone. As soon as Bask and his assistant Nick Kekllas started on the project, it quickly caught the attention of a host of his fans, gawkers, photographers and members of the arts community.

"It's going to be the most incredible mural in all of St. Pete," Lynch said. "I don't think there's another one like it."

Lynch has also hired a photojournalist to document the project, which is a compilation of Bask's works that have been on display across the globe.

Sandra J. Gadsden can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8874. Follow @StPeteSandi on Twitter.

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