Painting the Town Stories
Mural Revival Around Tampa Bay
Meet 3 Tampa Bay Artists, stories below
A Pioneer in the Mural World
Derek Donnelly, St. Petersburg
Donnelly, aka “Saint Paint Arts,”31, of St. Petersburg, describes his work as a blend of illustration and realism. Donnelly’s work, many in collaboration with fellow artist Sebastian Coolidge, can be seen throughout Tampa Bay, but primarily downtown St. Pete. He can be reached through his website, saintpaintarts.com.
I would not be here today without the help of the late artist Bill Correira “Woo.” Bill was a mentor and integral part of the beginning of the current (mural) scene. The night he passed we started the immortalization of him on the side wall that was next to my gallery. I painted him and over the next couple of weeks, the 40-plus artists that he helped and befriended painted marine life around his portrait, celebrating his life and work.
The largest mural in St. Petersburg is “A Moment to Reflect” on the back of the Florida Craftsmen building. From concept to the four-story execution, we (Connelly and Coolidge) worked side by side for 10 days with a little help from a couple of friends.
I was always doodling in class and tried to excel at any hands-on project that I had. I think helping my mother make costumes for Halloween every year played a big role. ... Nowadays my inspiration comes from my fellow artists, Woo, friends and consistently supportive father and mother.
City officials throughout Tampa Bay have realized the appeal of public art and the love that the community has for it. It’s really helping the economic development and visual appeal of our growing area.
Robert Daltry, Clearwater
Daltry, 47, a commercial artist, describes his work as “fun, bright and realistic, with a 3D feel. He uses shadows and darks against lights to bring the paintings to life. Daltry grew up in Philadelphia and moved to Clearwater in 2011. He can be reached through his website, bobdaltry.com.
One of my best-known murals is actually more of a prop, when we put a huge Phillies cap on a statue of William Penn, atop Philadelphia’s City Hall. We did it twice, for the All Star game and for the World Series.
I’ve lost count of how many murals I’ve done. Most are in the Philadelphia area, on everything from kids’ rooms and homes to large outdoor advertisements, restaurants and nightclubs. Now I’m in Florida, in the Clearwater area, and (interest in murals) is growing here as well. I just finished another dolphin statue for the Tampa Bay Rays and am currently working on a mural on Clearwater Beach for a new shop. I’m usually always juggling a few jobs at a time.
My mother was my first inspiration, seeing in me at a very young age the desire and passion, with some natural ability to draw, and getting me into private art lessons and classes. I was oil painting landscapes at 7 and 8 years old. And the passion hasn’t stopped to this day.
I still take courses and learn different techniques. Always learning!
I see the future of this art world really growing, there’s a lot of opportunity around, and a lot of growth right now. It’s a good time right now.
Keith Stillwagon, Gulfport
Stillwagon, who has painted about 200 murals, describes his style as “Visionary Realism.” It’s realistic enough to be recognized by others, he explains, but presented in a surreal, dream-like context, sometimes with heavy use of symbolism. Stillwagon can be reached through his website, keithstillwagon.com.
My first large mural was painted as a backdrop for a play at Highlands Theater in Sebring and won an award for backdrop and set design. This led to me painting five outdoor murals in Sebring’s downtown. This was back in the 1990s and I was a police officer at the time. I got busy painting and eventually left law enforcement. I moved to Pinellas County and found myself in Gulfport about 20 years ago.
All kids like to draw, but I was the kid who never stopped. I used to study the pictures on the prayer cards that the nuns passed around. We were supposed to memorize the prayers. I couldn’t take my eyes from the pictures of saints and angels. I was amazed to learn that they were once painted by real humans. I later failed in school but never stopped drawing and reading books on art. When I turned 17, I enlisted for three years in the Army. After I came home I started reading more technical books on art and that is when I bought my first paints.
I love to paint big pictures, but until I am invited to paint my next (mural), I will be content to paint small ones in my studio.I am still the kid who likes to draw.