Graffiti artists putting up murals around St. Petersburg this week

An acclaimed collection of artists is coloring St. Petersburg with vibrancy and style.
The U-Haul building at 975 Second Ave. S is coming to life in a big way, courtesy of internationally famous artist Hitnes. LUIS SANTANA   |   Times
The U-Haul building at 975 Second Ave. S is coming to life in a big way, courtesy of internationally famous artist Hitnes.LUIS SANTANA | Times
Published September 8 2015
Updated September 8 2015

The SHINE St. Petersburg Mural Festival is transforming drab exterior walls across the city with an impressive roster of artists whose work has appeared in the Iron Man movies, the Smithsonian, MTV's Real World, on the walls of Facebook headquarters and on Beats by Dr. Dre packaging.

And here's some background on the artists, who are expected to complete their work by Thursday. For more on the mural festival see

Hitnes (Rome)

The Roman street artist's brilliant and fluid depictions of wildlife has graced walls across the world, including Mexico, Germany and Croatia. This summer, Hitnes will be retracing John James Audubon's 1830s historic trek across 15 states from Pennsylvania down to Florida and across to Louisiana, while documenting and painting murals of native birds along the way.

123Klan (Canada)

The French graffiti crew is a husband-and-wife team of Scien and Klor, who have dominated the street art scene for more than 20 years. Now living in Montreal, 123Klan's bold character design and iconography has helped it establish a client list from Sony to Scion to KidRobot, while holding true to its graffiti roots.

Andrew Spear (Orlando)

Motivated by music, movies and pop culture, Andrew Spear's artwork includes his obsession for drawing women and flowing hair in his distinct, geometric retro style. That has led him to paint murals for a client list that includes MTV's Real World, Red Bull and New Era.

Bask (St. Petersburg)

Fleeing communist Czechoslovakia as a young child, Ales Bask Hostomsky took an early interest in graffiti art. Now a prolific artist with work in galleries across the country, Bask's art covers walls from Detroit to Brooklyn to St. Petersburg, and can be seen throughout the movie Iron Man 3.

Chad Mize (St. Petersburg)

A multimedia artist and former gallery owner of Bluelucy, he also works on his own lifestyle and T-shirt brand, CHIZZY, which features the popular Paris, London, Tokyo, St. Pete T-shirt.

Erik Jones (New York)

A St. Petersburg native and Ringling College of Art and Design graduate, Jones now lives and works in New York City. His illustrations have graced the cover of magazines like Hi-Fructose, recently featured by Forbes and has sold out art shows across the country. This will be Jones' first large-scale mural.

Evoca1 (Miami)

Dominican-born and Miami-based, Evoca1 is a figurative painter, designer and muralist who is strongly influenced by his Latin American culture. Founder of Sketches for Mankind, Evoca1 works to raise awareness of important local and world issues through art. His powerful imagery can be seen on walls from Mexico to Peru to England.

Greg Mike (Georgia)

Heavily influenced by skate and street culture in New York City in his youth, Greg Mike is a prolific designer and illustrator from Atlanta. His iconic style, including his signature Mr. Loudmouth, has adorned walls from New York to Chicago to Hawaii, including the Facebook headquarters.

Hoxxoh (Florida)

The Miami-based street artist and muralist is widely known for his colorful and abstract designs. Hoxxoh's hypnotic waves and circular shapes, all done freehand, attempt "to show us a different way of viewing time through a means of exploring its natural fabric." His murals can be found in Detroit, Hollywood and even the historic Miami Marine Stadium.

Michael Vasquez (Florida)

A St. Petersburg native working out of Miami, Vasquez is a figurative artist best known for his focus on urban, street culture and identity. His work has been shown in galleries around the world, including a current exhibit at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Morning Breath (New York)

A design powerhouse, Morning Breath is street artists Doug Cunningham and Jason Noto. Dividing its time among personal and commercial projects, Morning Breath works for notable brands, including Nike, Adidas and Beats by Dr. Dre, and has been nominated for a Grammy Award for packaging design.

Pep Rally (Tampa)

Founded by contemporary artists and illustrators Jay Giroux and Josh Pearson, Pep Rally Inc. has put its creative touch on physical locations across Tampa Bay, including Fodder & Shine and The Hyde Out. Most recently, it designed and executed a live screen-printing event at the 2015 MLB All-Star Bash in Cincinnati.

Ricky Watts (California)

A leader in the Northern California graffiti scene in the '90s, Ricky Watts is a designer, illustrator and street artist who's known for his interlocking layers of vibrant color. Watts' large-scale murals can be seen across the country from Oakland, Calif., to Atlanta. He is also a member of the ZeroFriends collective, along with Alex Pardee and Dave Correia.

Shark Toof (California)

The Los Angeles-based graffiti artist is best known for his iconic shark imagery used to convey "strength, optimism and possibility to the viewer." With gallery exhibits and large-scale murals from coast to coast, Shark Toof's work is internationally recognized and has been utilized in television commercials for Samsung and Apple.

Vitale Bros. (St. Petersburg)

The St. Petersburg-based mural and hand-painted sign company, led by Johnny and Paul Vitale, has clients from the Tampa Bay Rays to Great Bay Distributors. Trailblazers in the local art scene, the Vitale Brothers have launched memorable art events for many years and collaborated in set design for movies filming in area such as Harmony Korine's movie Spring Breakers, starring James Franco.

Ya La'Ford (St. Petersburg)

Maintaining her studio work in Tampa Bay and New York, Ya La'Ford is a professor, visual painter, installation artist and muralist, with an MFA from the Art Institute of Boston — and a law degree from the University of Florida, for good measure. Her work can be seen across the country from the Boston Public Library to the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum.

Times staff writer Maggie Duffy contributed to this report.

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