Gearing up: SHINE Mural Festival ’23 starts Friday

St. Petersburg’s well-oiled mural machine is purring like a kitten.

The St. Petersburg Arts Alliance’s 9th annual SHINE Mural Festival doesn’t officially begin until the end of the week, but director Jenee Priebe and her staff are already boots on the ground, making sure everything’s ready for the 14 artists who’ll begin painting 14 outdoor walls this Friday.

Each artist, whether they’re stationed downtown, in the Warehouse Arts District or some place in between, will have his or her own POD storage unit onsite.

“All the PODs will get delivered Tuesday,” Priebe explains, “and my street team will follow behind and start stocking them so the artists are ready to go. We’ll spend most of this week getting everybody stocked up, getting their paint delivered to their PODs, making sure everybody has what they need.”

The units are stocked with spray paint, bucket paint, brushes et cetera – whatever the artist has requested – along with coolers to be filled with ice, water, kombucha and coffee, plus paper towels and trash bags.

The mechanical lifts, used to hoist the artist up and down the enormous plen air canvases, will also be delivered mid-week.

2022: SHINE Festival director Jenee Priebe surveys a faded 2015 mural by Ricky Watts, at 600 1st Ave. S., as it’s being prepped for re-use by another artist. “These things really do transform these spaces,” she says. “When we trust in artists to do what they do best, I believe that’s the art that resonates most with the public.” Photo by Bill DeYoung.

The roster for SHINE 2023 (Oct. 13-22) includes four international artists, four national artists and six from the bay area.

Deciding who will go where – assigning the walls – is both art and science, according to Priebe. “It starts with what the artist wants or needs, based on what materials they’re using. If they’re using spray paint you can give them a little bit more textured walls. Sometimes, if it’s bucket paint, they need a smoother wall. That right there determines where people can go.

“Some artists want to go really big. Some do not. Some will want more portrait-style walls; some want landscape style. So I try to match those up as best as possible, but on the other end of that, I’m thinking about what the property owner will approve. So sometimes an artist may not be a good fit for a certain property owner. And I’m trying to balance those things: Who do I think can actually get approved at each location?”

Although the artists are not required to pre-submit their intended design, SHINE does come with a few rules – no nudity, no politics. The rest is pure artistic freedom, for the most part. “What happens right downtown is going to be a little more restrictive than what we can do in the Warehouse Arts District, for example,” says Priebe.

Mural art is impermanent – that’s part of the bargain when somebody signs up to participate in SHINE. Because of fading, three earlier murals have been painted over, the walls re-purposed, this year. Among these is the 2018 panorama of Spanish conquistador Panfilo de Narvez, painted for SHINE 2018 by the British street art duo Nomad Clan (the artists were notified, according to Priebe, and heartily endorsed the change).

The Miami artist HOXXOH (a.k.a. Douglas Hoekzema) will work at the repurposed wall, 2025 3rd Avenue South, this year. It is currently home to the Morean Workshop.

Nomad Clan’s 2018 mural depicting the final moments of Spanish explorer Panfilo de Narvaez was faded, and the wall is being re-used this year. Photo: Bill DeYoung.

Three artists – Australia’s Loretta Lizzio, Canada’s Bryan Beyung and local muralist Chris Dyer – have been assigned the same building facade, the massive Stewart Moving & Storage facility in the Warehouse Arts District.

“We’ve never done something like this before,” Priebe says, “where we have one big wall, and multiple artists on the same wall. We could have fit up to five artists there.

“We had enough other walls where we didn’t need to put all five there, so we left some open spots in the middle – maybe we can paint those sections next year.”

For the SHINE location map, and all other event information, visit the website.

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