Sixteen artists from around the state, country and world came together for this year’s SHINE Mural Festival. For the festival’s second year, it brought 16 new artists and 21 new large scale works of art. The 10-daylong event works towards uniting the community, broadening creativity and bringing new life to parts of the city.
Meet the Artists
Ya La’ford stands on her motorized platform putting the finishing touches on her latest work, “The
Golden Wave.” La’ford, a local artist, spent a total of 40 hours over the last week creating her addition to the fesival. La’ford wants her mural to be something the public can participate in and says that involving the community in her art is important to her. “My work is about walking through. You become a part of the work (rather than just) versus you viewing it,” she said. “I want you to be immersed when you are with and around my work. If these lines are the pulses, you’re the heartbeat. You bring my artwork alive.” “The Golden Wave” is black and gold, a theme La’ford chose carefully. “Gold has so many meanings. Gold is all about purity and is one of the few minerals and materials in the earth that can’t be broken down,” she said. “Black is a reflection of all colors.” This mural is related to her latest project, “Muralopia,” a children’s book she wrote and worked on with the Morean Arts Center and the St. Petersburg Public Library. La’ford says that this book and her other works all share her message of interconnectivity, peace and love. Last year, La’ford participated in the first SHINE festival. Her contribution was the “Blue Sunnel.” She painted the tunnel using her interconnecting geometric style that is also featured in her latest mural. It is located next to Ferg’s and under First Avenue and leads out to the Tropicana Field parking lot. La’ford spends half of her time in Kenwood, and the other half in the Bronx, so she did not have to travel far for SHINE. La’ford also teaches communication classes at the University of Tampa and art at St. Petersburg College.
Ricardo “Apexer” Richey, flew in from California for the festival. He has been creating murals for 25 years. “I’m from San Francisco and it(murals were) was just something that was everywhere; I drifted towards it,” he said. “I found ways to do it, people that were mentoring me, and I found places that the city didn’t really care about that I could just paint.” Richey’s wall, behind Gulfshore Bank on Central, is full of vibrant colors and shapes. He said that at this point, he does not even sketch them out beforehand. “For me, the wall is nothing different than a piece of paper. So the pencil to paper, paint to the wall. Nothing different.” After arriving he had to change it up just a little bit because in person the wall was slightly different than he thought. For this mural , Richey wanted a layered color explosion. He said that there is a tunnel vision feel to it, looking towards the center point, where there is a tight weave that opens up. A lot of his inspiration comes from nature. “I have a huge list of references of things that influence me, but nature is a really repetitive source. (That includes) all walks of nature, from vines to flowers to how waves break; natural movement, natural flow, how birds can move in and out of that. I try to translate what I see into abstract art.” Richey travels all over leaving his mark. After finishing up in St. Petersburg, he is headed home for just two days before getting on a plane to Detroit for another festival, Murals in the Market. “San Francisco is what cultivated the beginnings of me and then I get to bring that to another city, and the people in (that) city get to experience that. It is the community that gets built between the artists themselves and the city we’re all bringing in.”
Willy Rivera, or War Artifex said that anything you name he has used as a canvas, from paper to flesh. He was a tattoo artist for years before getting started with murals 10 years ago. Rivera was influenced to start doing murals by seeing other artists at work and how they expanded their platforms. He then decided to change his as well. A local artist, Rivera did not have to drive very far to get to his wall everyday. He moved to Tampa when he was 10 years old and has been there ever since. His mural stands just to the left of Richey’s. His wall features elements of Dali’s art, such as the melting clock. Rivera said this mural was not planned, it was more off the top of his head. He felt as though he was taking away just as much as he was giving to the festival. “The energy from all the artists here, seeing what they do, to witness it, is motivation and inspiration at the same time,” he said. He also enjoyed meeting many of the other artists throughout the week. “It’s been a real blessing. It’s so great to actually conversate with them, and a lot of fun to see how they go about their vision, and what it really takes to apply all of this to a wall,” he said. Rivera hopes that SHINE will continue for years to come. Rivera worked long hours throughout the week with another fellow artist, Dan Christopher, to get the job done. The heat was not as much as a problem as it could have been, he said. He and Christopher lucked out with a shade wall which helped a lot. Like Richey, Rivera travels a lot for his work., He will leave two days after the SHINE festival for New York to tattoo some family and do another mural, but he doesn’t mind one bit. “It’s a good feeling, it’s living, something you really enjoy doing.”
Michael Reeder’s mural sits at 1720 Central Avenue and demonstrates his style of the duality of life and death. He flew in from New Mexico and despite the rain, was going to finish his contribution in just four to five days. Reeder did street art and graffiti in the late ‘90s before working for a commercial mural company in Dallas, Texas for about six years. His work is featured in galleries in Los Angeles, Oakland and Tampa, but he wants to bring that to a canvas outside. “It’s [the mural] based on my current body of work that I’m focusing with the gallery scene. That is primarily what I do, so my focus is to try and bring that work to the exterior street art scene,” Reeder said. He was sent an image of the wall before arriving in town and noticed that there were a few features he would have to factor in. “I noticed there were a few elements that protrude, (like) the big door and columns, so I wanted to attempt to use them rather than pretend they didn’t exist,” he said. Reeder decided to put the figure on its side and use the column as part of the piece, using it as the split of the head between life and death. He said he likes the fact that he travels so much for his work, and that he is proud of what he does. “I’m excited about the fact that it is honest work, said Reeder. “I’ve managed to create a style and develop a following of people and fans of my work; it is what I want to be making and what I like to make.” The travel also gives him the chance to meet all kinds of new people. “It’s a great opportunity to experience the city that it [the festival] is located in. Usually [I have] just enough time to do what I have to do,” he said. “It draws in a lot of people. You get to meet a lot of people and hear their stories, also what they think my art’s about.”