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The painted giraffe and its animal friends in Munn Park are getting some neighbors across the street: a colorful mural dominated by a swan and a muted tyrannosaurus rex.

Artists started both projects this week on buildings three doors apart on the north side of Main Street.

The swan dominates a 38-foot-wide mural designed by three Harrison Arts Center visual arts seniors to emulate the vibrant street art of São Paulo, Brazil.

The dinosaur is a bit of unsanctioned urban art painted by David Collins, who also created the giraffe and surrounding menagerie on a tree across the street.

David Collins and T-Rex
David Collins works on the T-Rex at 209 E. Main St. this morning. |

Painted in subdued tones on the windows of a building next to Black & Brew Bistro that’s been vacant for roughly a dozen years, the dinosaur represents something that everybody likes but is also scary, Collins said. “Who knows, maybe there’s something scary in the building.”

In contrast, the mural outside the future home of Posto 9 gastropub will be asplash with bright colors when it’s finished in a few weeks. For now, it’s a 38-by-8-foot white plywood canvas with a penciled grid that the Harrison artists were overlaying today with a pencil sketch of the eventual panorama.

Nicholas Gauthier uses pencil to sketch the design onto a large grid based on the color original.
Nicholas Gauthier uses pencil to sketch the design onto a large grid based on the color original. |

Students in Harrison’s visual arts program typically spend the final weeks of their senior year working on a community service project, teacher Beth Garcia said. In recent years, they’ve glazed bowls for Agape Food Bank.

This year, students have studied mural art — including a session with Ruben Ubierra, who painted a large mural at the Polk Museum of Art last month — so they knew they wanted to undertake a mural project, Garcia said.

They got their canvas when Marco Franca, owner of the Brazilian restaurant scheduled to open at 215 E. Main St. in December, asked Harrison Principal Daryl Ward about showcasing student work on the building’s wooden construction barrier facing Main Street.


The initial idea came from a Florida Southern College graduate business class that brainstormed marketing ideas for the restaurant to increase community involvement, Franca added.

When he discussed the idea with Harrison’s principal, they talked about ways to combine the spirit of Lakeland with the look of street art seen throughout São Paulo.

And did the mural concept accomplish that? “I told them, ‘You guys really hit the dot,’ ” Franca said.

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The mural was designed by seniors Nicholas Gauthier, Isabella Quenga and Nguyen Vu.

This morning Gauthier, Quenga and friends sketched the design in pencil on their large white gridded canvas this morning, copying miniature versions stored their smartphones. Meanwhile, their teacher was selecting the 30 gallons of paint that Franca bought for the project.

Franca said all the Harrison artists and their families will be invited to a restaurant preview before its projected Dec. 1 opening date.

Photos of the work in progress are being posted to the Posto 9 Instagram page, and a videographer is documenting the process, Marco said.

What happens to the large plywood mural when the restaurant is ready to open? Franca paused. “We will find a place for it.”


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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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    1. Until I saw your comment and looked it up, I’d forgotten that guerrilla art had a specific meaning. I was using it in the sense that the artist didn’t seek permission before starting the project. Since it’s a multi-day project taking place during the daytime, there’s no real chance for anonymity. I’m not sure I’d call this a photo opp in that there wasn’t any formal press announcement. I saw David downtown yesterday not long after he started and thought I’d wait until he got a little more done before I took a photo. This morning I took several shots before he even knew I was there.

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