The City of Tampa has commissioned many murals for the city over the past few years, many that depict the history of the community. Below is an overview of the City's murals, grouped by neighborhood: Ybor, Downtown, East Tampa / Sulphur Springs, West Tampa.
How do I commission a mural for my property?
Are you interested in having a mural painted on your property, but don’t know where to start? The City’s Art Programs Division can advise on national best practices in the field of Public Art,to get started on commissioning an artist. Please email contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 274-8531 for additional information or assistance.
"Faces of West Tampa" commissioned 2018
Location: Salcines Park, West Tampa
1705 N Howard Ave. / southern-facing wall
Artists: Illsol (Tony Krol, Michelle Sawyer)
Photo: City of Tampa
If you have driven down Howard Avenue in West Tampa lately, you may have spotted a new mural at Salcines Park. This mural, painted by Tampa-based Michelle Sawyer and Tony Krol of Illsol, depicts the "Faces of West Tampa."
Faces of West Tampa pays homage to the diverse history of West Tampa by showcasing many of the area’s historic figures, elements, and places of historic significance that represent the West Tampa area. The artists spoke with members of the community and the West Tampa CRA, the agency that funded the repair of the wall, to inform the content of the mural. Below is a listing of the individuals in the mural. Other West Tampa landmarks, imagery and memories are ghosted in the design.
From left to right: Rick Casares (football player), Clara Frye, George Edgecomb, Robert W. Saunders, Sr., Lou Piniella, Mr. and Mrs. Salcines, Carl “Red” Guggino (boxer), E.J. Salcines, Alton White, Leon Claxton, Jetie B Wilds, Jr., Blas O’Halloran
Rick Casares, a Tampa native who excelled at athletics at Jefferson High School, received an athletic scholarship and played fullback at the University of Florida in the 1950s. He then was picked in the 1954 draft to play for the Chicago Bears, and joined the team after completing military obligations.
Clara Frye, a nurse in Tampa, opened a hospital out of her home in order to treat African-American patients in the early 1900s. She later established the Clara Frye Hospital in West Tampa located at what is now the site of Howard W. Blake High School.
George Edgecomb became Hillsborough County’s first African-American judge at the young age of 31. He died nearly three years later in 1976. The downtown Hillsborough County Courthouse is now named after Mr. Edgecomb.
Robert W. Saunders, Sr., a civil rights activist, served as the NAACP Florida Field Director and US Office of Equal Opportunity’s Chief of Civil Rights for the southeast region of the US.
West Tampa native, Lou Piniella, went on to be a professional baseball player and manager for such teams as the New York Yankees, Cincinnati Reds, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Chicago Cubs.
Emiliano Jose and Juanita Salcines, immigrated to Tampa from Spain in the early 1900s and opened the West Tampa Department store on the corner of Howard and Main Street. This is now the location of Salcines Park, named in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Salcines.
Carl “Red” Guggino was a lightweight boxer from West Tampa and learned to box at the West Tampa Boys Club. Boxing was a popular sport in both West Tampa and Ybor City; many Florida Boxing Hall of Famers could call the area home.
E.J. Salcines, son of the park’s namesake, was born and raised in West Tampa. Salcines served as a state attorney and appellate judge, and is also a local historian.
Alton White was instrumental in the civil rights movement in Tampa. Mr. White’s impressive career included Hillsborough County teacher, Federal Model Cities Program coordinator to bring federal funds to Tampa residents, and the Executive Director of the Tampa Housing Authority. Mr. White was also the first African-American to run for Mayor of Tampa.
Leon Claxton led one of America’s most successful traveling shows, Harlem in Havana, which ran from the 1930s through the 1960s. The shows launched the start of many careers, broke carnival records and significantly influenced the Black and Latin entertainment industry during the Jim Crow era. Harlem in Havana had its winter headquarters in West Tampa.
Jetie B. Wilds, Jr., a public servant who had a 30 year career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was also a community activist, columnist for La Gaceta, and hosted a community radio show on WTMP-AM. His father, Jetie B. Wilds, Sr., was a strong role model for all 12 of his children, as he was a community activist, humanitarian and human rights activist.
Blas O’Halloran was co-owner of O’Halloran Cigar Company, a place of significance for the start of the Cuban War of Independence. A cigar containing instructions to start the revolution was rolled at the O’Halloran Cigar Company and delivered to Havana in 1895.
Just north of Ybor City, sits a campus of city facilities that serves the V.M. Ybor and East Tampa communities and include a city park with football field, a newly-restored above grade pool originally built in 1937, and, The Dream Center, a city building leased to a nonprofit, faith-based organization. The Center offers after school programs and youth mentoring. The south and west walls of The Dream Center served as the canvas for the murals.
In 1885, the V.M. Ybor neighborhood (named for the Vicente Martinez Ybor, Spanish founder of Ybor City's Cigar Industry) was settled by Spanish, Cuban and Italian immigrants of the local cigar industry. The artists depicted this history on the southern façade of the building through imagery and the colors featured in the Spanish, Cuban and Italian flags. The artists have featured a 1930s era swimmer and the nearby JC Newman cigar factory clock. The colors used on the south-wall wrap around to the back, or west-side of the building, and complement this mural, that depicts the contemporary use of the space.
Once orange groves and baseball fields, this historic neighborhood was once a lively gathering space for the community. Now a football field, restored swimming pool and mentoring, this community continues to grow together.
Illsol is the Tampa-based collaborative creative team of Michelle Sawyer and Tony Krol. Both artists have been creating solo work for years, but decided to officially establish Illsol in 2015 to focus on large-scale works. The husband and wife duo have created a number of commercial and public murals.
"Cuscaden, Past, Present and Future" commissioned 2011
Location: Cuscaden Park
Republica de Cuba and E. 21st Avenue
Artist: Allen Leper Hampton
Artist Allen Leper Hampton was commissioned to create a mural at Cuscaden Park to coincide with the building of a playground by the organization, Kaboom!, a national non-profit dedicated to saving play for America's children. The artist received input from representatives of the community and incorporated historic images of Cuscaden Park and its pool, brightly colored flowers, as well as portraiture of individuals from the neighborhood.
“The mural I have painted in Cuscaden Park, titled Cuscaden, Past, Present, and Future focuses on the historical importance of the park, one of the neighborhood’s current cultural leaders, and two individuals that represent the future of Cuscaden Park and the surrounding neighborhood. The background is an image of the iconic Cuscaden Pool, taken decades ago, in its heyday. There is a portrait of Lincoln Tamayo, of Academy Prep School, just down the road from the park. Mr. Tamayo spends his days supporting the community by helping local youth gain the education they need to see them through high school and college, and into a promising future. The other two portraits are of two promising students currently at Academy Prep, and they represent not only themselves and their school, but the entire youth of the neighborhood, and their great potential for future success.” -- Allen Leper Hampton
"American Journey" commissioned 2013
Public / private partnership wtih Ybor City businesses
Location: Adamo Drive between 17th and 19th
Artist: Michael Parker
The Ybor City mural project was designed and produced under the artistic direction of muralist Michael Parker, supported by the City of Tampa, community volunteers and art students from Hillsborough Community College Ybor Campus. The mural covers 12,000 square feet of surface area, the largest outdoor original artwork in the state of Florida. The mural depicts the aspects and struggles of the “American Journey”: an immigrant family standing at the beginning of their journey, peace and security of home and family, tension between Spanish and Cuban citizens during the Cuban Revolution, the struggle for equality among the black population, the changing role of women, the class conflict between management and working class and the desire to stay near home while at the same time hungering for new experience and opportunity. Throughout, this mural shows the values of our nation – a place people from many nations came to enjoy freedom.
"Tampa Welcome" commissioned 2018
Location: I-275 Downtown East exit at 801 E. Scott Street
Artist: Tes One
Poe Parking Garage is immediately surrounded by several of Tampa’s cultural assets, and the vibrant design of the murals interpret the call to “Stay Curious” reminding guests of all ages to continuing learning and experiencing the arts. The large scale murals, prominently painted along Gasparilla Plaza as well as in other areas of the garage, are visible and welcome visitors into downtown Tampa as one approaches from I-275 and for those coming from the West Tampa area via Cass Street.
"Stay Curious" by artists Bask and Tes One celebrates and promotes the creative culture of Tampa Bay. By applying a meaningful message and a design that accentuates the structure’s form and access points, the Poe Garage is re-introduced to the community as a landmark unto itself and a clear indication of its arrival in the Tampa Arts District.
"Florida Avenue Mural / Tampa Postcard" commissioned 2003, repainted 2012
Location: Florida Avenue at Royal
Artist: Carl Cowden III
Carl Cowden III repainted his original Tampa Postcard mural in 2012. The mural, which was originally commissioned by the City of Tampa, Public Art program in 2003, evokes a vintage postcard depicting images of Tampa’s past and present. Due to maintenance to the surface of the wall, the mural was taken down and the façade was refurbished, courtesy the property owner, Tampa Historic Properties, Inc.
“…I searched state and local archives for images that would work contextually and compositionally, and supplemented them with original compositions for the project. My experience from advertising and sign painting, coupled with an early influence from Art Nouveau poster, and a love of the natural environment, allows me to work well with the formal challenges of successfully resolving issue of subject and scale.” – Carl Cowden III.
"Historic Central Avenue" commissioned 2003, repainted 2012
Location: Kid Mason Community Center
1001 N. Jefferson Street
Artist: Tony Moore
This mural serves as a historical tribute to the former business people who made Central Avenue and the surrounding neighborhood a viable place to live, work, and provide essential goods & services. Depicted on the wall are (l to r): Moses White, Mr. Henry & Mrs. Jean Joyner, C. Blythe Andrews Sr. with Perry Harvey Sr., and Mr. Watts Sanderson, Sr. All were leaders in the African American community and played a significant role in bringing civil rights to Tampa. They are a few of the many contributors who made Central Avenue a thriving neighborhood.
Central Avenue was critically impacted with the emergence of urban renewal. The good intentions and idealism of urban renewal met reality with disappointing results that adversely affected 60 percent of Tampa’s Black population. This mural addresses more broadly the issue of moving forward with the neighborhood and community to revitalize the area and serve as the initial step towards establishing a Central Avenue Historic District.
Artist James Vann was selected by the East Tampa Community Advisory Committee and the Aesthetics & Beautification Committee to paint a series of murals at the site of the Tampa Police Department District III, located at 22nd Street and E. 31st Avenue. The space adjacent to the Police Department was originally designed and built as a space for community-based art, so Vann, a local artist, was commissioned to bring the space to life through imagery of East Tampa. Six murals all in a row depict positive images of the neighborhood and feature family, church, music, baseball, community and public safety. It was s specific request by the committee for Mr. Vann to feature the Tampa Police Department black foot patrol officers of the 1940s and 50s. Vann’s public safety mural features both current-day officers and those who served on the force from years past. Vann’s research on the neighborhood was vast – and the community was a great help to unveil much history about the area. He hopes the murals will inspire others to learn more about the history of their communities.
James Vann describes his artwork as Neo Cubism and has studied art since his youth in NYC. “When I study a subject; be it figuratively, still life or landscape, I immediately begin to dissect it into cubes of flat bright colors and geometric shapes. I then contrast the lights & darks, as one cannot do without the other. The thought in process, is spontaneous and calculated with a soulful balanced blend of my life's experience! Something wonderful happens, as the power of the brush and the art connect. Acrylic paints are my choice of medium, as it is patient, forgiving and gels perfectly!”
"Sulphur Springs Mural"
Location: East Tampa 22nd Street and E. 31st Avenue
Artist: John Gurbacs
The City of Tampa recently completed the construction of a new pumping station at Sulphur Springs, an artesian spring which enters the Lower Hillsborough River approximately two miles downstream of the City’s dam. The pumping station will provide freshwater to the base of the City’s dam and is a primary component to help meet the minimum flows of the Lower Hillsborough River as established by the Southwest Florida Water Management District. This building is prominently located on Nebraska and Bird Street, and the Water Department commissioned John Gurbacs to paint a mural that wraps the building. In his mural, Gurbacs featured birds, plants, and animals, indigenous to the river habitat.
The artist approached the project by building a model of the building to help visualize the mural’s design, to prepare for the largest mural of his career. He began with the Hillsborough River with foliage banks and water reflections in the background and added in water birds, herons, egrets, ibis, osprey and spoonbills. On the finished mural, these birds stand over 10 feet high, and create a strong visual impact. In addition to the local flora and fauna, Gurbacs incorporated bubble-shaped areas that depict a micro view of algae and several underwater scenes, ideas that are similar to his oil paintings where he compares sceneries that shift and merge. “I hope to influence people’s appreciation and concern of our natural environment. During the course of this project, I have learned a lot about the animals that live in the Hillsborough River Habitat. I hope we continue to be attentive and nurture this local habitat, the home to many species of animals.”
The West Tampa water tank was built in 1954 and renovated by the City of Tampa in 2014. The City of Tampa Water Department decided to fund the repainting and repairs of the 126-foot tall water tower. They commissioned the Artistbrothers to paint the mural, which is a welcome sign into the West Tampa area. The mural resembles an oversized cigar wrapper, a way to give recognition to the area’s cigar making history. In the center the words “Welcome to West Tampa” are displayed on one side and “Bienvenidos West Tampa” on the other. This project was put into effect to welcome residents and honor the history and culture of the West Tampa Community. The water tower is visible from I-275, downtown, and other areas west of the Hillsborough River.