Since Hope and George Donnelly, owners of 8-Count Productions and Rialto Theatre, moved into their building on N. Franklin St., they already had dreams of using the blank, white exterior walls as a positive beacon to reflect the history and diversity of Tampa.
Perched on a rooftop wall is where you can find local artist Bekky Beukes painting the newest public mural “Protect your tribe. One Love.”
“We have talked and designed the wall with a handful of artists many times over, but the design and relationship never stuck. I have brainstormed this wall and lost a lot of sleep with this idea of a female or unisex figure(s) and bold colors. When I saw some of Bekky's works in local shows, I fell in love with her figures and reached out for her to submit her portfolio and book a show in the Rialto gallery. We met to plan the gallery space and I threw the idea out to her about the mural and the conversation just took off, we totally vibed, and she ran with it,” Hope Donnelly, Creative Director, says.
Originally from South Africa, Beukes will be incorporating patterns and symbols from her home country, with a modified Ndebele symbol of protection as part of the design border. Cuban culture, as well as other symbols that represent Tampa, will slowly make their way into the design each day she and her team go out to paint.
Beukes hopes to have the mural done in the next two weeks (unless Hurricane Matthew decides to be a jerk).
“Murals and other public art are beautiful conversation starters that have the power to send positive messages and create a relationship between the public and the spaces they live,” Donnelly says. “We fall in love with a city or a place if we feel connected to it and I think art is one of the best and most universal ways to find that connection. Tampa has many great spaces although still finding its voice and sense of community, which makes it a great canvas to incorporate art.”
Protecting what we hold sacred and noting that love is universal and shared, what a better message than “one love” to send out to anyone passing through Tampa.
To check out Beukes’ painting progress, or maybe even hold an umbrella up for the artist, you can find Rialto Theatre on 1617 N. Franklin St., Tampa, or visit their Facebook for video and picture updates by Austin McCurry.