Thursday, July 12, 2012

No Postage Necessary: Tampa mural redux

Posted By on Thu, Jul 12, 2012 at 5:00 PM

Artist Carl Cowden III, right and his son, Carl Cowden IV, left.
  • Nicole Abbett
  • Artist Carl Cowden III, right and his son, Carl Cowden IV, left.

If you’ve ever driven down Florida Avenue then you are familiar with the Florida Ave Mural, or what many refer to as the brightly colored painting with local scenes painted across the name of the city. Located at 1102 N. Florida Ave. (facing Royal Street) the postcard-themed artwork can’t be missed as you’re heading north out of the brick-paved roads of downtown towards the more urban streets of Seminole Heights.

One evening a few months ago, I came to a complete halt on my bicycle when I discovered that the iconic mural was gone. I was thinking "what have they done?!" All remained was a blank, concrete colored rectangle. I immediately posted a photo of the giant blank rectangle on facebook in attempt to find out what happened. Thanks to the powers of the internet, I found out within minutes that it was being restored. Whew!

The artist, Carl Cowden III, a Fine Arts graduate of UT, was hired through the same city arts program that commissioned him to paint the Florida Ave Mural in 2003. The total cost will be $12,000.

Huge capital letters spell out the city’s name, TAMPA, each of which encapsulates a different scene from the city. It begins with the white Sulphur Springs water tower in the letter T; followed by Bayshore Boulevard with the Gasparilla pirate invasion inside A; the famous minarets at the University of Tampa within the M (where Cowden received his Fine Arts degree); A trolley car in P; and two kids fishing off of a tree in the Hillsborough river in the second A.

The mural was removed as it was literally crumbling due extensive water damage. The original stucco backdrop was not sealed properly causing cracks and damage beyond repair. This time the mural will be going up on cement canvas instead of brick to further its longevity.

Its disappearance was so heartbreaking for myself and many others, but should be finished by the end of July.

Thanks for putting T-A-M-P-A back in our city Mr. Cowden!

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