By RaeChelle Davis, Reporter   (Photo/RaeChelle Davis, Staff)
Thursday, September 06, 2012

St Petersburg-Tampa   Gone is the basic beige or boring gray. The newest trend in the Bay area is bold and bright.

Murals depict historic moments, pop culture, and graffiti.

The works of art are popping up all over the area. The Vitale brothers have been painting their way through St. Petersburg for years and are putting the finishing touches on a new mural behind the State Theatre. It is just one of many they have been asked to paint recently.

“I’ve noticed a lot of murals coming up and some of them are graffiti based and some of them are hand painted. This particular one is hand painted,” said John Vitale.

In Tampa, Carl Cowden III, who has dedicated his life to making murals, just completed a postcard painting on Florida Avenue. It replaced a similar mural he painted years ago that had shown its age.

“That’s part of the whole thing with the mural is to integrate it into the community by talking to the people in the community,” said Cowden III.

Cowden’s work can be seen across the city. Murals like the one he painted more than 30 years ago at Rosa del Vez freeze a moment in time.  It shows kids playing on the playground. He used actual kids at the care center who still come by to see their painting.

“I would love to see some of those kids again – well I know they’re grown now it’s been years but it was a lot of fun including the kids.” said Cowden.

Cowden said over time there was less demand for murals like the one at Rosa del Vez.

“I was disappointed for many years because people weren’t talking about it,” he said.

The Vitale brothers are anxious to continue painting their mark on the community.  With the mural’s new found popularity the Morean Arts Center is finding more opportunities in St. Petersburg for artists like them.

“We’ve got a few other buildings that we have got permission on and we’ve got another couple that we’re working on. So, there will be some other buildings in this district that you will see some additional murals on,” said Wayne Atherholt, director of the Morean Arts Center.

Mural locations    

  • Florida Avenue Mural: 1102 N. Florida Avenue, Tampa
  • Fallen Heroes Mural: U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary’s building, Madeira Beach
  • Graffiti Style Mural: 1st Ave N. & 7th Street, St. Petersburg   (Photo/Kirk Strauchler) 
  • State Theatre Mural: 687 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg

(Photos/RaeChelle Davis, Staff)