The Murals of Vero’s Story

Part 2: Individuals, Businesses, and In Between

Read Part One Read Part Three

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.

This mural, done by George Colon, is downtown Vero Beach on the side of a convenience store. Colon is a recovery coach and enthusiast of self-expression. Grandfather to two interracial grandsons, Colon truly believes that there should be no stigma regarding skin color.

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.

Photo courtesy of Instagram.
Christopher Sweeney, aside one of his many XøRobot and stretched hearts designs.

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.

The work-in-progress by Christopher Sweeney as part of a tribute to raise awareness about mental health.

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.

Photo by Jennifer Stockdale.
Another of Christopher Sweeney’s XøRobots boasting a “Keep Indian River Beautiful” sign at Upcycle It! located on Old Dixie Highway.

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.

Photo by Jennifer Stockdale.
“Birds of the Park” by Carol Makris. This mural is located in Riverside Park.
Photo by Jennifer Stockdale.
This Vero-themed mural by Barry Shapiro is on the outer wall of Mr. Smokes.

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.

Photo courtesy of Barbara Sharp.
Two mermaids indulge in some underwater wine in this mural on the Sunmarket Sauce Company.

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.

Photo courtesy of Bluedog.
This mural, created by South Florida artist Nate Dee, is impressively a must-see in downtown.

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.

Photo by Jennifer Stockdale.
This mural can be found on the Pocahontas building located in downtown Vero Beach. The artist is Leasa Nesse.

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.

Photo by Jennifer Stockdale.
The Buggy Bunch, a non-profit in downtown Vero Beach that aims to promote keeping families together, celebrated 10 years in the works. This mural is a display of that success. The artist is PC Willoughby.

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.

Photo courtesy Barbara Sharp.
This stirring, serving, pitchfork-yielding chef octopus accompanies the mermaids mentioned previously on the outer decor of Sunmarket Sauce Company, painted by long-time muralist Barbara Sharp. Beyond the octopus is another mermaid swimming in the distance.
This mural is located right next to Kountry Kitchen on Old Dixie Highway.
The artist is J.M. Martin.
Photo courtesy Barbara Sharp.
This piece is located on Pipe Den located at 1426 20th St, and Barbara Sharp is the muralist.
Photo by Jennifer Stockdale.
Hazel House mural painted by Katie Gastley, located at 1882 Old Dixie Highway. Hazel House is a retail of furniture and home decor.
Photo by Jennifer Stockdale.
A closer view of the shark part of the mural on Bluedog, located in downtown Vero Beach.
Photo courtesy
Mural done by artist Barbara Sharp, located along Azalea Lane, between Cardinal Drive and Ocean Drive.
Photo courtesy
A wider view of the sunshine Vero mural located on the outside wall of Mr. Smokes.
Photo courtesy
This mural is located on the Audubon House in South Vero Beach, 195 9th Street SE. The artist is Deanna Derosia.

Read Part One Read Part Three

Jennifer Stockdale
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