I first met Skip Dyrda
when I was on my first Art Whisperer assignment to cover Sarasota's interior designers. Strolling through Towles Court for the first time, I passed his studio where he was inside working. The door was open and I waved, said hello and just meandered in. Mainly I wanted to ask him about the area and arts at Towles, however, once inside I was enjoying the stunning works of art inside his studio. One included a piece he was working on for the Palm Avenue Garage public art murals. I knew eventually I would like to revisit him for a possible article. However, as some, they remain on a back burner in my mind until later to be revisited. Recently I stumbled across a promotional flyer for the opening reception this coming Wednesday, November 30th at 4 pm. Skip is one of five Sarasota Chalk Festival artists who worked on the Public Art project in the Palm Avenue Parking Garage during the 2011 festival as part of this years new addition "Going Vertical.
RobinP: Tell me about this project and how you became involved.
SD: I was invited by the the group of people that developed the idea, which included Jonathan Parks, the architect of the garage, Denise Kowal, who started and promoted the Chalk Festivals and this year's "Going Vertical" event and also Michael Baeumier, the contractor of the garage (or maybe the developer? not sure). I knew Denise from doing the chalk festival last year and she knew of me from that and because I've been a full time artist here in Sarasota for 18 years, mostly painting murals and mostly known for painting the five story Crisp Building mural at 301 and Main Street 11 years ago.
Each of the artists were asked to submit initial sketches which were later refined for the final proposal to the Public Art Commission. We were each also assigned a specific floor and a theme pertaining to the arts.
(The garage, before work began)
RobinP: Where is the mural that you're working on and what inspired it?
SD: I was assigned the theme of Theater and asked to paint the sixth floor. I typically prefer to personalize my murals to either the location and/or to the person or organization that commissioned me to create the mural. In this case, given that my theme was theater, I had originally intended to somehow represent each and every past and present theater in Sarasota. It quickly became apparent that I would not be able to represent each theater equally. So based on research I had already completed, I decided to use a play performed in the early 40s in which the star had a deep connection to the city of Sarasota. The play, The Man Who Came to Dinner, was put on at the Player's Theater, which is the 2nd oldest community theater in Florida. The star was Verman Kimbrough and his connection was that he was the president of the Ringling School of Art for 30 years and also Mayor of Sarasota. His son is still an active attorney here in Sarasota.
So design for the primary wall I was assigned to paint was to make it look like an old theater facade, with the marquee, a ticket window and posters of the current event as well as those 'coming soon'. I used my daughter, Mackenzie, as the model for the ticket window lady.
RobinP: How was it to incorporate the artwork into the wall?
SD: The side wall already had an existing aluminum vent right in the middle of the lower part of the wall. So what I did was to paint around the vent, making it look like there was an entry door, which I made the 'stage door'. To make it look like the vent belonged there, I asked a friend of mine, who works in the theater, to pose for me. I end up making it look like he was hoisting the vent up to the second floor window, which has a silhouette of a local actress in it. The hoisting mechanism is my red string, or in the case, a red rope, which I include in all my murals.
I also painted four additional secondary walls. On these I painted those thick red velvet ropes strung between brass stands. Each one has a small sign on which is painted the words, 'box office', orchestra, mezzanine, and balcony.
And that's that. I also began calling that floor my penthouse since it has an amazing view of the bay on two sides and I spent 3 weeks up there.
The opening reception for Going Vertical is Wednesday, Nov 30th at 4pm.
Palm Avenue Parking Garage Rooftop
1289 N. Palm Ave
Sarasota, FL 34236