Like many people at the beginning of the pandemic, father and son Steve and Patrick Collins wanted to do something to help.
Steve’s brother and Patrick’s uncle is John Collins, the executive director of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance. So when the pandemic forced many musicians and visual artists to lose work, John encouraged them to put their efforts into supporting the arts community.
Patrick said that he and his dad scrambled to find a way to help. Within a week, they’d commissioned artists Derek Donnelly and the Vitale Bros. to paint murals on their delivery trucks for their Pinellas Park-based janitorial service business, Coast Brothers.
“People ask what this has to do with the business,” Patrick said. “But it was about finding a way to give the artists a canvas.”
Donnelly painted his trademark sea turtle on one truck, and the Vitale Bros. painted an underwater scene with dolphins.
At first, the idea was that buzz would be created just from people seeing the trucks around town while drivers were making deliveries.
“But then we thought, why not showcase the act and make it go viral?” Patrick said. “To encourage people to pay it forward.”
The idea for a series of videos showcasing the trucks was born. Patrick called on a videographer friend and also reached out to a guy whose work he admired on the I Love St. Pete Facebook group.
Next, again at the suggestion of John Collins, they decided to hold a songwriting contest for local musicians to score the videos.
So from June 14 to July 5 local musicians submitted their original songs. Using social media to promote the contest, they got about 100 entries. They picked three winners, who received $500 each.
The first video featured the song Solid Ground by the HeadTones. It’s a funky tune. In the video, titled “Healthcare Heroes,” workers drive the painted trucks to pick up boxes of food from Siam Gardens Thai restaurant and deliver them to St. Petersburg General Hospital.
The second video in the series is on YouTube. It’s called “Dolphin Timelapse” and features the Vitale Bros. painting the truck while Dunedin artist Aubrey Wollett’s song Beach Vibes plays. The song is a Top 40 hit in South Florida on the Tropical Americana chart.
The third video will come in a couple of weeks, scored by Ivy Alex’s song Home. The video will feature a tribute mural to Bill “Woo” Correira, the late, beloved St. Petersburg artist.
Patrick Collins said he has no intention of stopping these kinds of projects and wants people to be inspired to do their part to add value to the arts community. He said he always likes to hear from people who are also helping and how they’re doing it.
“It’s so important for people to not lose sight of showcasing and promoting local arts, even in hard times,” he said.