Part 2: Individuals, Businesses, and In Between
In Part 1 of this three-part series, we explored the Vero Beach Mural Art Project and works commissioned and executed in Downtown Vero through funds raised by various events and individuals including Linda Moore, art enthusiast and co-owner of Kilted Mermaid.
Part 2 of Vero Vine’s ‘The Murals of Vero’s Story’ takes a look at some of the individual Vero Beach artists and their murals, which take on more of a freelance art form.
To read Part 1 first, visit here: The Murals of Vero’s Story, Part 1.
Whether on beach side, downtown, driving along U.S. 1, or just frolicking around Vero Beach, one is bound to come across a mural of some sort. Have you ever seen the “All Lives Matter” graffiti art mural on the side of the convenience store located along 14th Avenue? You may drive past it often and not acknowledge it, or you may have noticed it before and wondered what the story behind it was.
That mural is by Vero Beach local and New York native George Colon, who has his graffiti artwork everywhere from East New York all the way down to Miami.
His reason for the painting is not anything other than what it literally says – that all lives matter, not just any one particular race or color. For his “regular” job, Colon is a Sober Companion for Solutions Oriented.
Dan Bennett, a previous “cool personality” featured in Vero Vine, often does artwork in collaboration with his friend Colon, and the two have partnered together to raise awareness for health and wellness through means of recovery, spirituality, and mentoring in the community.
Christopher Sweeney, another local Vero Beach artist and a teacher at Beachland Elementary, is the man behind the robots and stretched hearts art murals that can be found throughout Vero Beach. Sweeney also has artwork in Miami, Naples, Jacksonville, and Wynwood Miami. Most of his paintings have a common theme of love, and involve either his XøRobot or stretched hearts. Sweeney’s canvas artworks were recently featured in a gallery display at Studio 14.
Look for Sweeney as one of Vero Vine’s upcoming “Coolest Personalities.“
Sweeney recently began a new mural in Vero Beach to raise awareness for the Mental Health Association in Indian River County. To see his work in photos is one thing, but to experience the emotion of his artwork in person is an experience all its own. Many artists are able to do what they do because of philanthropists and others in the community donating the funds necessary to create their art. To donate to the Mental Health Awareness “Love Oneself” mural by Sweeney, there is a GoFundMe account set up. Remember, Chris works as a teacher full-time, and his artwork is a talent he shares with the world, and in this case, for a newsworthy and attention-worthy cause.
Sweeney is also the artist associated with the mural at Upcycle It! located at 1596 Old Dixie Highway. Upcycle It is a business that uses recyclable goods for projects that artitsts, crafters, and educators can enjoy. They feature home decor and various artwork in their shop as well. One hundred percent of their programs reduce waste, prevent litter and beautify the community through paintings and garden projects.
The “Birds in the Park” mural is a piece done by Carol Makris, who also has a mural mentioned in Part 1 of this series as part of the Vero Beach Mural Art Project. Her beautiful bird-themed mural is located across the Merrill P. Barber Bridge, in Riverside Park.
The next colorful mural is located at Mr. Smokes, 1014 20th Place in downtown Vero. The artist is Barry Shapiro. Mr. Smokes is a smoke shop with a variety of goods and collectibles. There are also fun murals (including a Cheshire cat and Slice smoking a pipe under a giant mushroom) within the store that are works by the talented Crystal Ploszay of Unicorn Epoxy. Ploszay has also created decorative lettering and signs for Crab Stop, Blue Star, and Treasure Coast Corals.
If you’ve ever set foot in Vero Prime, the downtown office of Main Street Vero Beach (MSVB), or Joey’s Barbershop, you’ve likely noticed the detailed murals within those establishments. Thirty-year muralist and Vero local Barbara Sharp is the talent behind those indoor murals and several outside murals as well, such as the wine-tasting mermaids and quirky octopus on the outside of Sunmarket Sauce Company. Sharp travels the country painting murals, as well as contributes to those done locally. She has a website and even a book, if interested in having her talent grace the presence of your home or business. She has also completed the murals on the wall of Pipeden, and the charming leprechaun at Sean Ryan Pub.
Bluedog, another downtown business, has a level of professionalism that is unique in its creativity, presentation, and overall quality. What captures the eye of current and future customers of this business is the two-story mural of a shark looming under a dog swimming toward an orange on the outside of their building, located at 2205 14th Avenue. South Florida artist Nate Dee is the man behind this mural, and the story behind the company is precious.
The initial view of this mural is awe-inspiring, and the interpretations are up to that of the beholder. Research the business, then see how the art correlates to their “story,” which involves a blue dog, a little boy, and the comfort a blue dog brings to a little boy, from the eyes of his parents.
Just beyond the Bluedog shark mural is another mural on the Pocahontas Building, home to Rio Coco Cafe and The Parisian Hostess. It features Pocahontas standing in a canoe rowing along a river, and is the work of Leasa Nesse, owner of Beach Soul Boutique, located within the same building.
Around the corner and down the street is a mural painted on the outside of The Buggy Bunch of a mom walking a small child and pushing a baby stroller, marking the Vero non-profit organization’s ten year anniversary. That mural is by PC Willoughby.
Art can be found in so many of Vero’s historic districts, from street art to detailed pieces, to random wall art and walls boasting hibiscuses and orchids, trademarks of Indian River County, Florida, and specifically Vero Beach.
This feature series has strived to include all of the talent within Vero’s mural artwork community, and this author is open to hearing about any artwork that was looked over.
Part 3 of this series includes the talent behind the Vero Beach Art District in Edgewood, so stay tuned for those amazing creations.
For more information on any of these mural pieces, visit their individual sites, or find information about the possibility of an upcoming Walking Mural Art Tour by Main Street Vero Beach.
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Nice article Jennifer! So glad to see so many murals in one story. I’m a member of the Leadership Team for the Vero Beach Art Village, and was hoping maybe I could discuss with you the changes that are taking place within the Downtown Vero community of Edgewood. Please let me know if you’d be interested in having this conversation. Much thanks- John Ryan
No love for Kelli?
Jennifer Stockdale & all who work with you; What a wonderful way to paint Vero Beach! I am astounded by the talent here & the way you present it. It is wonderful to read & to look at such a positive affirmation of Life itself. We are too often too busy looking down at the negativity surrounding us. We forget – or worse – ignore the beauty within which we can choose to live. Thank you so much for your attention to all that is truly good in our world.