ST. PETERSBURG — Want to root on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as they head into their final game of the playoffs on Sunday? Do it with a selfie in front of the pair of murals celebrating the team at 3125 Fifth Ave. N.
The murals, which were completed in October, are a collaboration between St. Petersburg artists the Vitale Bros. and Tampa artist Leon Bedore, a.k.a. Tes One. They were commissioned by the Bucs as part of a street art campaign, Johnny Vitale said.
“They wanted our spin on the Bucs brand,” Vitale said.
One one side of the Griner Engineering building, wide receiver Chris Godwin is in mid-stride, clutching the football against a backdrop of graphic and cartoon elements. It’s titled Make Room. On the other, quarterback Tom Brady is poised to throw the ball. Its title? Boom.
Bedore and the Vitale Bros. are frequent collaborators, who work together under the moniker Up and Over Murals, with an eye on attracting corporate clients. Bedore’s bold graphic style plays well with the Vitale Bros. ability to render realistic portraits and pop culture elements.
The Vitale Bros. are a team of artists that include Johnny Vitale, Paul Vitale, Nick Kekllas and Jason Kekllas. Jay Gaskin also helped paint the two murals, Vitale said.
“It definitely took the whole crew,” Vitale said. He said the murals took more than a month to complete, as there were challenges during September’s rains.
The central St. Petersburg spot is a somewhat unlikely location for a mural celebrating the Bucs. That’s because one of the biggest challenges of getting a mural painted is finding the wall. They started a search for available walls, even reaching out to the Shine Mural Festival for help.
According to Vitale, Nick Kekllas discovered the walls through a neighbor who works at Griner Engineering and introduced him to Joseph H. Griner, III, the firm’s president.
Vitale said that Griner was “totally into it” because he is a fan of the Vitale’s works and a Bucs fan. It was originally supposed to be just one wall, but they decided to expand the murals to both walls flanking the building.
Brady and Godwin are both tagged in posts about the murals on social media. Vitale said he reached out to Godwin and heard back, but never heard from Brady. He thought of the possibility of the players signing the mural, but realizes they were focused on the season.
“It was a fun experience,” Vitale said. “This was a good representation of what we could offer to teams.”
Work on Up an Over’s next mural starts soon at the parking garage at the Mahaffey Theater/Duke Energy Center for the Arts to promote clean energy, highlighting the electric car charging stations there, Vitale said.