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Artists painting huge mural on Florida Craftsmen building in St. Pete

More walls!

That's the new mantra for Diane Shelly, executive director of Florida Craftsmen Gallery. Exterior walls, that is, available for embellishing with murals in the Central Arts District, the corridor between Florida Craftsmen at 501 Central Ave. and the Morean Arts Center at 719 Central Ave.

She has a huge wall on the back of the Florida Craftsmen building that is being transformed beginning Friday by artists Derek Donnelly and Sebastian Coolidge, both known for outdoor paintings such as Donnelly's tribute to his friend, the late Bill Corriea, known as Woo, and Coolidge's image of a young man with an elongated arm squeezing an orange on the exterior of the Freshly Squeezed clothing store.

She plans a docent walking tour of the district's murals, she hopes beginning in June.

"Wayne (Atherholt, director of the Morean) and I have been encouraging murals because they define the Central Arts District," Shelly said. "We have over 20 murals along our blocks, and I always wanted to do a tour. But I couldn't do it until I had a mural here."

She can't say for sure, but Shelly thinks it'll be the largest in the city, climbing three stories to the top of the building and even higher where there is an elevator box on the roof. "We have trees in the back on the alley," she said, "but if you're walking around Fifth Street and Fourth Avenue N toward us, you'll be able to see the top of the mural over the trees."

The artists don't want to release the design early, but Shelly said it includes a business-type person with creative components to reflect the collaborations between the business and arts communities.

Regions Bank, for example, contributed $2,500 to the project, she said, two-thirds of its cost. The major expense is the $1,500 weeklong rental of a forklift. The artists are working "practically as volunteers" on the project for Florida Craftsmen, a not-for-profit organization.

Donnelly and Coolidge will create the mural over a week's time (the forklift's gone after that). They'll be painting during the Second Saturday ArtWalk, which begins at 5 p.m. today. It features about 50 venues in five arts districts and is free. For a map and details on ArtWalk, go to stpeteartalliance.org.

Lennie Bennett can be reached at lbennett@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8293.

Artists painting huge mural on Florida Craftsmen building in St. Pete 05/09/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 6:44pm]

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