The 2019 SHINE Mural Festival is an event that draws international, national, and local muralists to the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. Every October, St. Pete transforms into a public art gallery. Gibbs Mural Club teamed up with the Boys and Girls Club, to create a community mural on the historic Royal Theater. This was the first time SHINE had painted on a historical building.
The Royal Theater has a strong history in the St. Petersburg area. It is located in the Deuces District and operated from 1948 to 1966 as one of two African-American theaters. In the 1970s, it served as a youth center for local children. Today, The Royal Theater functions as a Boys and Girls Club with an emphasis on the Arts and Education. Designing a mural for a building with so much historical significance, on this type of stage, was truly a responsibility. After meeting with community members to generate ideas for a design, we decided to use elements that represented the timeline of The Royal Theater while highlighting local success stories.
The BGC motto, “Great Futures Start Here”, is woven into the design and stretches throughout the entire mural. St. Pete native Angela Bassett can be found in the theater section of the design accompanied by a movie reel with floating bottle caps and popcorn. Bottle caps were a unique feature, as children were able to use them for the price of admission. As the design transitions into the youth center era, a focus on athletics takes place. Local football stars, and current NFL players, the Griffin twins are featured as a reminder that anything is possible. Serena Williams, though not a local, trained in Florida during her youth before becoming the all-time most winningest female tennis player. The design turns towards the current state of The Royal Theater by focusing on the Arts and Education. Instrumental, Vocal, and Visual Arts are just a few areas the BGC offers to the youth. Two students can be found working with a teacher inside of the word “HERE”, signifying that great futures do start here, with the connection between students and teachers. Lastly, the pelican, a symbol of St. Pete, adds the finishing touch.
This truly was an honor to be a part of. The overwhelming support from the community throughout the process was a humbling experience for everyone involved. A big thanks to the SHINE Mural Festival, Creative Pinellas, Boys and Girls Clubs of the Suncoast, and all sponsors responsible for helping make this project possible. A special thanks to the community of St. Petersburg and the Deuces District for allowing us to be a part of a piece of history. This was a community project in its purest form from start to finish.