CANVAS international artists transform downtown WPB walls
Updated: May 23
Street art can sometimes be viewed as paintings that blemish the sides of buildings. But for some, street art is a way to express ideas and educate others on different cultures. One curator for an arts organization has dreamed of bringing art culture into South Florida since 2015.
Nicole McGraw, formerly Nicole Henry, formed CANVAS Art Charities, a non-profit organization that funds visual arts events to cultivate the community. Through an annual CANVAS Outdoor Museum show, artists were invited to create murals around downtown West Palm Beach.
McGraw explained that she created an outdoor museum “to educate people about artwork.” CANVAS aims to build culture, assist creativity and use art to cultivate people of different backgrounds.
McGraw's efforts sparked the subsequent creation of dozens of murals in the city.
One blue-haired figure off to the side catches your attention. Her hand is poised at the top, appearing to hold up the bridge.
The blue-haired woman in the mural is named Clara. In 2015, CANVAS invited New York City artist Sean Yoro, or Hula, to help further their vision of transforming the city into an interactive art experience.
McGraw described Yoro’s mural as being popular because of the “quality, placement and subject matter.”
Yoro faced several obstacles as he painted Clara. He painted Clara while balancing on a board placed between two ladders. Vandals smashed beer bottles against his mural. At the same time, his painting supplies and his photographs of the real Clara were stolen.
Despite this, Yoro worked persistently to finish Clara to show his love for bringing life to empty spaces. His murals are influenced by his roots in Hawaii and his love of the ocean.
The real Clara is a model and friend of Yoro’s from New York. Yoro was originally from Oahu, Hawaii, but he moved to New York to start his career under the name “Hula”. Yoro is now based in Los Angeles.
One of the most eye-catching local murals is a tribute to Alexander Graham Bell. On the Alexander Lofts building, artist Tristan Eaton created his largest mural, The Spirit of Communication.
Eaton was invited by CANVAS to create a mural that would showcase his elements of hyper-realism and graphic design through freehand spray paint.
In 2014, Eaton took 12 days and 500 cans of spray paint to create the original 8,000 square foot mural. However, in 2016, the building collapsed due to rusted iron rods. With half of his mural destroyed, Eaton was recommissioned to salvage his mural.
Eaton continued to create artistic elements that represented his original muse, Alexander Graham Bell. When it was completed, the new mural on the side of Alexander Lofts was renamed, The Spirit of Invention.
Everyone loves a story about young love. McGraw mentioned Lonac’s mural as a popular site in WPB.
Lonac, an artist from Croatia, created I lost my shoe when I saw you in 2016 on Clematis Street after also being invited by CANVAS. With the whimsical story of children falling in love, Lonac’s mural is his tribute to creativity and childhood.
Also on Clematis Street is Eduardo Kobra’s popular mural, Einstein’s Theory of Love.
Kobra is an artist from Brazil who focuses on using bright colors and bold lines in his murals. His mural on Clematis is often noticed by passersby grabbing coffee next door at Subculture Coffee.
McGraw also acknowledges Kobra’s painting as a popular mural in WPB.
CANVAS has contributed to over 40 murals in the community, McGraw said. CANVAS Outdoor Museum shows in 2015, 2016, and 2017 have all added more than $3 million to public art. The Museum plans to host their event every second week of November.
By Jasmine Lien