TREASURE ISLAND — This city not only actively protects sea turtles and their hatchlings, it will now pay homage to the marine reptiles by adorning the Rosselli Park concession stand wall with their lifelike image.
During a June 15 meeting, commissioners unanimously chose a mural design focusing on the endangered hawksbill sea turtle submitted by St. Petersburg artist Taylor Smith of Dreamweaver Designs for the city facility.
Smith’s mural design highlights sea turtles as they swim in Treasure Island waters. The artist explained that the design “is an oceanic scene with coral, sea grass, and schools of tropical fish swimming behind the main focal point, a hawksbill sea turtle — one of the most critically endangered animals on our planet.
“I created this design with intentions to promote environmental stewardship and protection of sea turtles and their ecosystems,” Smith said in her artist statement. “The city of Treasure Island has taken huge steps in its efforts to protect these endangered species; this mural will help facilitate more community awareness and local support in these efforts.”
Justin Tremble, assistant parks and recreation director, told commissioners that with the assistance of the Treasure Island Art Guild, the Parks and Recreation Department advertised a call-to-artists for the Rosselli Park mural on March 17.
Artists were tasked with submitting a coastal-themed environmental education mural that highlights the importance of environmental stewardship, Tremble said. Five artists submitted proposals by the advertised deadline of April 30.
In an effort to engage the community, a panel of seven residents and park users was created to assist the Parks and Recreation Department in making a design recommendation. The panel met May 24.
“With the panel's assistance, the Parks and Recreation Department recommended the proposal by muralist Taylor Smith,” Tremble told commissioners. “Taylor is a muralist based in St. Petersburg with a combined background in fine art, street art, and art in public spaces. She has over four years of experience exhibiting art outside the walls of traditional galleries and venues, and is an avid supporter of improving communities through public art and collaboration.”
In her resume, Smith noted some of her Florida-based public art projects have been supported by the Seminole Heights Civic Association in Tampa; the Creative Pinellas arts organization in St. Petersburg; the Hernando Arts Council in Brooksville; and Wynwood Walls in Miami.
Tremble said the Parks and Recreation Department believes that Taylor's proposed mural “is vibrant and unique and will fit the coastal-themed playground at Rosselli Park.”
Commissioner Deborah Toth, who was on the panel that selected the artist, said Smith’s work “blew the others out of the water.”
Artist Smith said the mural “would contribute to your mission to promote environmental education and enhance public spaces within the community. As an artist I am continuously inspired by the rich wonders of Florida’s coastal ecosystems, and I intend to use this opportunity to spread environmental awareness and pay tribute to Treasure Island’s beautiful array of natural life.”
The city must now raise the $1,000 it promised the artist, plus the cost of materials.
“The city does not currently have funds budgeted for this project, but will seek sponsorships once the design is approved,” Tremble said. “The Parks and Recreation Department envisions this to be similar to the successful beach art sign initiative, where local businesses and community groups sponsored the signs placed at busy beach access points.”
If the city can raise more than the $1,000 needed to pay the artist, it could contract with Smith to continue the coastal theme on the opposite wall of the concession stand building.
The artist has already suggested a continuation of the mural around the other two concession building walls. “My full design proposal would include various Florida ecosystems and the animals/plants who inhabit them. All three walls would feature the oceanic ecosystem with a sea turtle, the coastal waterways with birds, and the tropical flora and fauna abundant in coastal Florida,” she said.
Mayor Tyler Payne suggested an informational display be placed next to the mural to provide more information about sea turtles and their hatchlings.