ST. PETERSBURG — Valspar Championship is billed as “the most colorful event on the PGA Tour,” and the Palm Harbor tournament’s title sponsor has taken the splashes of color seen throughout Innisbrook Golf Resort into the community via Valspar’s “Be Bright” murals program.
The initiative began as a beautification project at Clearwater’s North Greenwood Rec Center in 2021 and has quickly become a popular national program for Valspar and its parent company, Ohio-based paint manufacturer Sherwin-Williams.
In addition to the one in Clearwater, Be Bright murals have been painted by local artists in Ruston, Louisiana; Nashville; and at Tampa General Hospital.
This year, the initiative returned to its Pinellas County roots, and on March 10 officials unveiled a pair of colorful paintings by Tampa artist Ashley Cantero on either side of an entrance at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport.
“The inspiration was St. Pete and Clearwater’s recognizable destinations and iconic images,” Cantero said before the start of the event. “These are things I believe passengers will want to see when they arrive in the area, and they will want to remember when they leave.”
The massive murals are filled with bright, recognizable images from around the Tampa Bay area, including beaches and boats, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and a golfer in full swing.
Cantero said Valspar officials gave her free rein to design the piece, which she said took her and two assistants two weeks to create, though she was skeptical why they chose her at first due to her style.
“They reached out to me and said they were looking for artists, and I was a little surprised they wanted me because typically I do stuff that’s a little more surreal and psychedelic, with a lot of female characters,” she said. “But I’m honored that they chose me because that means they believed I could pull it off.”
Based on the reactions from Valspar and airport officials, Cantero did just that.
“I want to say a special thank you to the St. Pete-Clearwater Airport and our artist, Ashley,” Sarah Hackney, senior marketing manager for Sherwin-Williams, said. “You and your teams really, really embody what Be Bright is all about and what we hope to inspire people to be.”
The airport’s public relations director, Michelle Routh, noted the airport saw a record 2.4 million passengers come through the doors in 2022.
“Every day, we have lots of visitors coming to the area and what we want to do is give them that big warm welcome when they arrive at the airport that says welcome to your vacation,” Routh said.
Buccaneer Ronde Barber is the Valspar Championship’s general chair. In advance of his being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame later this summer, Barber will have a ceremony in his honor following the first round of the Valspar Championship on March 16.
As the affable former Buc posed with Cantero’s friends, family members and a few surprised travelers, tournament director Tracy West spoke about how the partnership with Valspar has impacted the area.
“We take our role in generating tourism into the community very seriously, because we’re one of the only events of our size broadcast nationally and internationally,” West said.
She noted Valspar’s contributions to the community have included more than $50 million in charitable donations and an estimated $50 million in economic impact.
The 2023 Valspar Championship is scheduled for March 16-19 at Innisbrook Golf Resort’s Copperhead Course. Single-day and group tickets available for purchase online at valsparchampionship.com.