One of the best things I ever "discovered" while wandering through Tampa - camera in hand - was a creation of the artist Terry Klaaren. It was in May and I had decided to cruise the streets of our downtown business district for the odd, unusual or extraordinary...something worthy of your discerning eyes. It had to be interesting, perhaps even unique, and not be something you would find in your town or neighborhood. I came to a stop at a light on Franklin Street, looked to my left and there it was: huge hungry BLUE NOTES were escaping from a building. One of the coolest works of outdoor art I had ever seen. Playful but threatening blue musical notes were leaping slithering and escaping from the top corner of an otherwise staid old brick office building. (Go see it HERE.)
After that post I heard from the artist and others about locations where I could see more of his work. It's been a while but I set out to see one of those places that's near Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood. Just as they said, the transformation that an otherwise ordinary Hillsborough County middle school underwent had to have "lifted up the spirits of the students and administrators." More of the school then I could capture on camera is covered with Terry's outdoor murals of Florida's native fauna and wildlife. (And I took a lot more photos of the murals then this one wall.) There are walls with blue Florida skies, rivers, raccoons, birds, bushes and trees. And he didn't just paint flat brick walls. He painted wide expanses including roof overhangs and downspouts that seem to go and on around corners and walkways and over and around every obstacle.
Sligh Middle School, at Sligh Avenue and 22nd Street, was deserving of this kind of total visual makeover and every public school could benefit from the same delightful thinking and creative execution. It is hugely uplifting and a visual pleasure. You can't help but smile. It might be that like living near the beautiful bodies of water that surround us that after a while you stop noticing; I hope that isn't the case at Sligh. They attend a school that's wrapped in a magnificent work of art. I give the artist Terry Klaaren and those responsible for allowing him to create his realistic, inventive and even playful murals at Sligh straight A's for excellent in ambition and creativity. We need more!! To see and learn more about Terry Klaaren and his art visit him at www.KlaarenArt.com.