Family, friends still trying to come to terms with artist's death

- The Tampa Police Department is investigating the death of a local artist after he was found outside of a bar with signs of trauma.

Police found Matt Callahan unresponsive in the median outside the Warehouse Bar and Liquors at the corner of West Gandy Boulevard and South Clark Avenue last week. They say he suffered apparent trauma to the back of his head, and was bleeding from his brain. 

Police say Callahan was transported to Tampa General Hospital in critical condition, where he later died from his injuries. 

Juan-Pablo Parra is a friend of late mural artist Matt Callahan. Like his murals, Parra says Callahan's personality was just as captivating. 

"Larger than life," Parra remembered. "He would go out of his way to brighten your day." 

Parra says Callahan had a knack for bringing people together. 

"He was such a good friend to everybody," he said. "He really went out of his way to befriend as many people as he possibly could."

This painting of a man makes what little details Callahan's family and friends have of his death all the more confusing. 

An employee told police Callahan had been in the bar, and appeared to be arguing with other people. 

"It's just so senseless," said Parra. "I don't even know how to describe it because I still can't wrap my head around the fact that it's actually happened."

Callahan's family wrote in a Facebook post that he died from a brain injury he suffered during an assault. Details about what happened after Callahan left the bar are unclear at this time.

Clear though, is the mark Callahan made on the art community.

"Every time I paint, I think about him, I think about how Matt Callahan would paint something," said Parra. "He was truly a master." 

Those who knew him best say Callahan's memory will live on through the arts. 
 

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