|The Evernia St. parking garage Stariwell Mural Project. A detail of Mendieta’s mural, located on the sixth floor, can be seen below.|
Chances are, you are familiar with Eduardo “Eddie” Mendieta’s work. The mind behind some of the larger than life murals adorning the walls on downtown West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Broward County, and the wild Wynwood Art District in Miami, South Florida has been tagged with Mendieta’s distinctive artistic stamp.
“I always drew as a kid,” said Mendieta, adding “when I was in my teens I got into graffiti, just tagging at first, but then I got into actually doing pieces.” But once reaching “17 or 18, when I could actually get arrested, I stopped doing that,” Mendieta laughs. He moved onto smaller scale pieces, gallery stuff as he puts it, which speaks to Mendieta’s artistic style, a cross between fine art and street art, where abstract elements help support a larger work and message.
Mendieta’s work, which is now nearly omnipresent throughout downtown West Palm Beach, began with a single mural on the side of Respectables. “I had known Rodney [Mayo] for a long time, since the early 90s,” said Mendieta. “I had stopped painting for a while, I had work and kids. But after I ran into Rodney a few years ago I asked him if I could paint the side of the building. After harassing him for a couple of months he said yeah, and it just went from there.”
The mural, the faces of his children in monochrome (below), was a bold work in a city seeking an artistic voice. But, and there is always a ‘but’ when it comes to graffiti-style art, Mendieta did not get the proper permits. “I didn’t know we needed permits to paint on the wall, so we kind of got in trouble from the city,” remembers Mendieta. However, there was a silver lining to the slap on the wrist. “Through that, I wound up meeting Raphael Clemente of the Downtown Development Authority, and that’s how the other murals [around West Palm] happened. It actually worked.”
|This mural on the side of Respectablesbegan West Palm’s mural madness. It has since been redone by Eddie and collaborative artist Anthony Henandez.|
Through the DDA, Mendieta and his collaborative artists have worked on murals near O’Shea’s Pub, on Rosemary Avenue, on Evernia Street, and in two different parking garages for the Stairwell Mural Project (at Banyan and Evernia), to name but a few. The murals have given the city a much-needed artistic facelift, and have become an unofficial attraction of the newly dubbed Arts and Entertainment District, a new initiative promoting the arts, galleries, and events in and around downtown West Palm Beach.
With the downtown corridor well underway with projects lined up through the rest of 2014 – the Banyan parking garage stairwells will be getting their final touches in January 2015 – Mendieta has set his eyes on another locale to transform: the historical Northwood Village. With the help of the City of West Palm Beach’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), Mendieta and local artists have begun painting murals throughout the hip and historic neighborhood for a project aptly named the Northwood Village Mural Project.
|One of Mendieta’s many Wynwood Art District murals.|
“We are doing four murals to start with,” said Mendieta, two of which—Mendieta’s at the Community Garden, and artist Craig McInnis’ piece at the intersection of 24th St. and Spruce Ave.—have been completed, with a third by local artist Amanda Valdes getting underway shortly, and fourth by artist Anthony Hernandez still in the planning process (his work can also be seen at the Northwood restaurant The Garage VV’s outside dining area). “But I would like to cover the whole neighborhood in murals and make it a destination, kind of like Wynwood. We just need to get the word out there.” It’s an ambitious plan, but with his track record, one that is surely attainable.
|This mural, titled One World. One Life. One Love., is part of the Downtown Hollywood Mural Project. Located on Harrison St. in downtown Hollywood and done in part with collaborative artist Jay Bellicchi, the mural stands at 17 feet tall by 100 feet long. A detail of the mural was selected as the cover of the 2014-2015 Palm Beach Charity Register (below).|
Detail of One World. One Life. One Love.