For the past seven years, the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance has been putting on the SHINE festival, which unifies the community through art using walls as canvases to showcase various artists from the St. Pete area, as well as from around the world. The murals spark conversations and revitalize blank spaces in downtown St. Petersburg. This year, the festival showcased 21 artists.
The SHINE festival is directed by Jenee Priebe, associate director and a St. Petersburg local. This is her fourth year working for the festival. On a typical day, she can be found in her office working behind the scenes or out in the community working with business owners to get wall space.
According to Priebe, not many people recognize just how much work goes into putting on the events.
“It all is a creative effort and for me, I think what keeps me inspired is just the artists themselves,” Priebe said. “Being around artists and listening to the way that they do their process and learning about what inspires them and just how their brains work — to me is just so fascinating and that never gets old for me.”
Community as Inspiration
According to Jenipher Chandley, a St. Petersburg native and local artist, every artist in town is an active part of the community. They have been meeting up for over 10 years now at 548 Central Ave It started out with a small group of people who didn’t really know each other who were all facing difficulties in their lives — whether that was economical, emotional or simply in need of inspiration — and it took off from there.
“We all found an outlet through art, and friendships. We would paint live on the street creating a place for artists to socialize and be a part of the community, come up with new ideas for shows, and really created a welcoming arts community. There is a freedom there that you can’t find many other places and that’s why we have positive art vibes,” said Priebe.
Her mural is displayed on 625 23rd St. S. at Cimco Tile.
“Basically all of us are pretty much friends too because we all have been doing it for so long together,” said Mark Stevens, known in the art community as Aurailieus. Stevens is a St. Petersburg local. His mural is located at Zen Glass Studio at 600 27th St. S.
Local artist Reid Jenkins is one of the many artists who contributed a mural this year. He holds a Bachelor in Fine Art from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. This is his second year painting for the SHINE Festival.
In high school, Jenkins became seriously ill, forcing him to spend most of his time in bed. As something to do, Jenkins would practice painting. It quickly turned into his passion. Jenkins is now a full-time artist who conveys emotions and evokes conversations with his work. St. Petersburg is his muse. He mainly paints portraits that are inspired by the people and communities around him--his wife and daughter, friends, co-workers, his neighborhood and his tattoo shop.
“That’s the cool thing you can do with portraiture,” said Jenkins. “You have to destroy everything to bring it back.”
Jenkins mainly uses a mix of spray paint and acrylic on his portraits. His other medium is tattooing. His tattoo shop, Ink Werkz Tattoo Studio, is located off of 54th Ave North in St. Petersburg. His mural is located at the St. Pete Distillery at 800 31st St. S.
Messages Through Mediums
Laura Spencer, known in the art community as “Miss Crit,” is participating in her first year as a SHINE artist.
Miss Crit finds inspiration in both nature and meditation, which is where she got her phrase “nowness is the portal.” This is an idea that she gives credit to her meditation teacher.
“You can think of the concept of enlightenment as a pre-existing condition, meaning that it’s always in our life,” said Spencer. “We all have the ability to enjoy the present moment, and get creativity from meditation, right now...so you can focus on being mindful and present.”
For the SHINE festival, Miss Crit painted a montage of plants, modeled after her own houseplants. Her mural is at Absolutely Beautiful Flowers located at 3000 Central Ave.
More Color to Come
The SHINE Festival has no plans of calling it quits anytime soon and even has next year’s dates posted.
“It’s part of the culture of St. Pete now,” said Priebe.
To anyone who wants to see the new murals downtown, you can find a map on the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance website or check out the artists’ social media. And don’t worry if you missed seeing the murals being painted live this year -- artists will be back Oct. 13-14, 2022