Column: Local mural lovers can enjoy some throughout Tampa Bay

Stephanie Hayes stands by her dog, Stuart, in Dunedin.
Stephanie Hayes stands by her dog, Stuart, in Dunedin.
Published Aug. 26, 2015

When did Tampa Bay become a mini Wynwood?

Mural fans know that's the arts district of Miami, home to tens of thousands of square feet of public murals that have given new life to dreary warehouses. But you don't have to drive south to see public works of "wow" anymore.

Murals have been a big deal in St. Petersburg for several years, popping up on our own warehouses and shops (you need only stroll behind the buildings on the 600 block of Central Avenue to sample the smorgasbord). But the upcoming SHINE Mural Festival, which art critic Lennie Bennett explores this week, tests the city's appetite for murals at new levels. As artists roll in from around the country, spectators will have a chance to slow down and watch the creation of art that's literally bigger than all of us.

If you go, might I suggest taking a Hyperlapse video on Instagram?

The even better news is St. Petersburg is not the only place where you can peep a mural. Times reporter Richard Danielson just brought news that come October, SHINE organizer Leon "Tes One" Bedore and SHINE artist Ales "Bask" Hostomsky will adorn downtown Tampa's 932-space William F. Poe Parking Garage with murals. Renderings of the imagined paintings released by the city are bold, sweeping and filled with childlike joy.

Another mainstay in Tampa is the city postcard by artist Carl Cowden III along Florida Avenue. In Oldsmar, there's Cowden and Mike Massaro's landscapes on the sides of old sewage tanks. In Sulphur Springs, there's Michael Parker's evocative Rowlett Park racquetball court mural, asking hard questions about the absence of men in the neighborhood kids' lives. You can also see Parker's triumphant work commemorating Ybor City's heritage along Adamo Drive.

And while some murals can evoke nuanced feelings you just can't really define, others have a little more obvious emotional lingo. A fuzzy one, at that.

I'm pointing especially to the murals in Dunedin, where I live, and where thousands of dogs (plus some cats and a few pigs) are immortalized on the city's walls. If you visit the rear of Skip's Bar & Grill on Main Street, you'll see a little smiling guy in a black bow tie, near the air conditioner. That's my pal Stuart, who died last year, keeping it cool. Just as he liked it.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Art, art and more art! Fashion meets art at a pair of sartorially minded shows this weekend in Art Planner. And speaking of clothes, Jay Cridlin has the scoop in Music Planneron a concert from rapper Earl Sweatshirt. Andrew Meacham swaps emails in Stage Planner with Patton Oswalt. And if you're more into sipping than staring at murals, Laura Reiley has some of the most eccentric local smoked varieties in Dining Planner. Now that's an art.