By Candice Lovelace
This year’s SHINE Mural Festival featured two new local artists for its seventh anniversary.
The festival started in 2015 with the goal of shining a light on the power of art in public spaces by revitalizing areas, inspiring dialogues and uniting our community.
Artists use the walls and streets of St. Petersburg to transform the city’s shared spaces into an outdoor gallery featuring top artists from around the area, country and the world. Since the start of this festival, more than 100 murals have been created around St. Petersburg and its art districts.
Laura Spencer, an illustrator, and Jared Wright, a freelance artist, were both invited to participate in this year’s festival for the first time. Spencer, also known as Miss Crit, was born and raised in St. Petersburg, while Wright is originally from Clearwater, but now resides in Trinity.
Spencer was overjoyed and humbled when she was invited to participate in this year’s festival.
“Participating in SHINE has been a dream of mine since the Mural Festival’s inception,” Spencer said. “It’s been a really rough year for me personally, so getting that email from SHINE was a huge, humbling experience – I really hope to make myself and everyone proud with this one!”
A few years ago, Spencer had the privilege of designing an electrical box for SHINE. Since then, she has hustled to gain more mural experience. It’s important for Spencer to create art in the context of her surroundings.
“This is a continuation of a floral concept I started for a mural series at The Blueberry Patch (in Gulfport) earlier this year,” Spencer said. “It just so happens that this mural is on the side of a florist shop too – Absolutely Beautiful Flowers! It’s really important to me to create art in the context of my surroundings, so I think this is a satisfying design solution.”
Wright was “super excited” when he was invited to participate in this year’s festival. He called it the “perfect opportunity.”
“I’ve always wanted to contribute to the local art scene and this was just about the perfect opportunity,” Wright said.
Wright’s inspiration for his mural was an idea he’s had in his head for a while. When he got invited, this idea was the first thing he started sketching up.
“The concept is an owl holding a snake,” Wright said while describing his mural. “The snake is wrapping around the whole mural almost framing it, but the snake and owl are not fighting… The narrative is loose, but it’s about the harmony and balance of nature.”
Wright has never created a mural before but has always admired murals and muralists.
“I actually have never done any murals before, but I have been a fan since I can remember,” Wright said. “I’m excited to see how this turns out.”
This year’s festival ran from Oct. 15 to Oct. 24.
Spencer’s mural can be found at Absolutely Beautiful Flowers located at 3000 Central Ave., while Wright’s can be found at Colony Grill located at 670 Central Ave.