Teens learn life lessons by painting larger-than-life murals on downtown St. Pete buildings

Recently, a group of teenage art students from Gibbs High School were allowed to tag a building owned by St. Petersburg Distillery in downtown St. Petersburg.

"The Mural Club is an outreach program where we work with local businesses and community organizations to go around and allow these guys to use their artistic talents to help have a positive impact on their community," explained Brian McAllister, art teacher and club organizer.

The St. Petersburg Distillery commissioned the mural club to help beautify the area off of 31st Street South. This project is titled "Raising Local Spirits," a deliberate play on words given the venue.

McAllister elaborated, "This one is about a sunken ship, you know they used to run barrels of rum back in the day in sailboats, so it is a play on raising local spirits. A ship that wrecked and sponge divers are going down and picking the barrels up."

The chance to complete an art project of this size is also a means of teaching his art students lessons in scale and teamwork.

"Not only are they learning things they can use in the classroom and in their own artwork they are learning about community, learning how to work together as a team, building relationships," stated McAllister.

For many of these students, the experience of painting full-size murals helps enhance their overall artistic abilities.

READ St. Pete murals celebrate ‘art for art’s sake’ in an outdoor gallery

"Usually when we paint, we paint on a smaller canvas, but this is a huge wall, so we have to use our technique and skills in different ways," stated Anderson Bray, a 12th grader at Gibbs High School.

As a bonus, the students get to see their work and its impact on others every day because the mural sits right across the street from Gibbs High School.

"It is really exciting to have it right across the street because I can tell my friends, 'Hey I did this,'" said Bray.

The Gibbs High School mural club was created five years ago and tries to complete two-three murals a year.

The money they receive from the commissions is used to pay for materials and club activities.

LINK: Learn more about the mural club and its projects here.


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