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Artist's vision: Work so big it covers buildings

Now that he has populated it with turtles, Jay Goulde wants to paint the town.

The former head of Tampa Bay Tour of Turtles has formed the Outdoor Arts Foundation. Its goal is to cover the community in art, starting with two mural-like building wraps in Tampa.

Goulde developed Tampa Bay Tour of Turtles in 2001, a project that paired large fiberglass turtles with local artists who embellished them. The turtles were displayed throughout Hillsborough and Pinellas counties for almost a year, then auctioned to benefit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and other not-for-profit organizations.

Now Goulde is working with local governments to create privately funded outdoor art projects throughout the area.

The first will be a mural on the lower portion of the Park Tower Building on Ashley Drive in downtown Tampa. The mural will measure 40 by 60 feet, and is to be completed in early August. It is a collaboration between students at Tampa Preparatory School and artist Carl Cowden. The $10,000 price tag is being underwritten by Carol Smith, president of the Tampa Prep board, her husband Bob Smith, and The Wilson Co, a development and property management firm.

Goulde has more murals planned for Tampa and Clearwater, along with other outdoor arts projects such as painted trash bins. "Our goal is to make things nicer to look at," he said.

The Park Tower mural is not one in the traditional sense because it will not be painted onto the building. Eight students, ages 12 to 17, designed and painted a landscape on a much smaller canvas that will be photographed and enlarged like a billboard. Gould is using vinyl mesh for the enlargement, the same material used during the Winter Olympics to drape buildings in Salt Lake City with giant images of athletes.

"The advantages to using the building wrap is that it's a lot less expensive to do this than to pay an artist to paint for several weeks; there isn't the liability, because a licensed contractor will hang the wrap. And it can be changed," Goulde said.

Maintenance will be easier, too, he said. "Once the (painted) mural fades, you can't take it off the building. You have to repaint it or paint over it."

The Park Tower mural will probably stay up for a year, he said.

A second, larger mural is planned for the Franklin Exchange Building. Goulde said Theo Wujcik, a local artist with a national following, is designing it. It will measure 40 by 90 feet and cost about $15,000. Goulde said he has commitments to pay for about two-thirds of it.

The Clearwater Police Department also is working with the foundation to develop a series of murals, said police Chief Sid Klein.

"We want to focus on neighborhoods and community policing and involve kids," Klein said.

The department probably would use the Tampa Prep model of students working with an artist to create images that would be enlarged on mesh and hung on buildings around Clearwater. He hopes to launch the program on Sept. 11.

"My grand vision for these wraps is to have a rotating outdoor gallery," Goulde said.

With the economic downturn that has cost many not for profit groups donors and donations, is there room for new art projects?

Gary Welch, senior vice president of The Wilson Co., which is contributing to both Tampa murals, said, "It's a difficult time for fundraising, but I don't expect Jay to fail. It's a fantastic program that will give personality to the community. We've had a very difficult time as a society this year. Art helps us cope."

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