Deirdre Kurnett was driving around St. Petersburg when she saw the Vitale Bros. painting a mural on Brewer’s Garage at 2929 16th St. N.
“I need a mural,” she called out to them from her car window.
Kurnett is the treasurer of the North Kenwood Neighborhood Association, which received a grant from the City of St. Petersburg’s Mayor’s Neighborhood grant program. The grant, which is meant to enhance and unify neighborhoods, matches funds raised by the association through fundraising and volunteer hours with the city.
The association wanted to have a mural painted on a large white wall on the exterior of a private business across from Booker Creek Park at 2135 13th Ave. N.
Johnny Vitale responded to Kurnett that day in her car, told her he would do the mural and later gave the association a quote that was conducive to the budget.
The 30-foot-tall mural features the flora and fauna found in North Kenwood, as well as the alligator, otter and roseate spoonbill many neighbors have spotted at the park. It also includes the business owner’s Rottweiler.
Located on a busy thoroughfare, the mural is a tactic for the neighborhood association to get more residents involved and elevate the neighborhood to the level of the more high-profile Historic Kenwood.
“It’s an ‘if you build it, they will come’ situation,” Kurnett said. “So now we have this like, ‘Woah, that’s ours. We did this.’”
The North Kenwood mural is one of a few going up around Tampa Bay this month.
For Derek Donnelly, the mural he’s painting on the St. Pete Brewing Company at 544 First Ave. N is like coming full circle. In 2013, he painted his first commissioned public art exterior on the brewery.
Back then, there weren’t as many murals in St. Petersburg. Or as many breweries. So St. Pete Brewing Company president and CEO Tom Williams tapped Donnelly to freshen up the exterior.
Donnelly appreciates the repeat business and thinks the mural will help set the brewery apart from others.
Where the previous mural honored St. Petersburg with icons like Tony Jannus’ plane, Donnelly is going for a more abstract, stained glass effect this time.
“We wanted something colorful that pops,” he said. “A little more elegant and ... more reflective of St. Pete as a whole.”
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Since April, an ongoing international mural festival has been connecting artists with walls in Tampa. The festival, called Tampa Walls!, is a project of Pow Wow Worldwide, which brings murals to 17 cities around the globe. Tony Krol, director of Tampa’s Mergeculture gallery, and other community leaders have been working to bring the festival to Tampa since 2019.
Thus far, San Francisco-based artist Ricky Watts has painted a wall that Common Dialect Beerworks and Health Mutt share (5023 N Florida Ave.) with his signature abstract style; Charlotte, N.C.-based Noirsone has an action-packed scene at Gilberto’s Paint and Body Shop (4520 N Florida Ave.); and Ill Des, based in Atlanta and Denver, turned a wall at Magnanimous Brewing (1420 N Florida Ave.) into art.