Tuesday, February 13, 2007


BLOG UPDATE: 4-Sided "Whaling Wall" Completed in Key Largo

*Photo by Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau

Marine artist Wyland unveils a mural in Key Largo that features Castaway, the dolphin. But just before he snipped a ribbon, he revealed that sometime after Feb. 20 he would “quietly add a few more fish and a stingray to honor my friend Steve Irwin.” Irwin, best known for his television series ‘The Crocodile Hunter,’ tragically died in September 2006, after being pierced in the chest by a stingray spine while snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

Wyland also announced that lighting would be added to illuminate the mural so the artwork could be appreciated 24 hours a day.

A panoramic 7,500-square-foot representation of the living coral reef that parallels the Keys, the Wyland mural wraps around a four-story, four-sided building at mile marker 99.2 in the median of the Overseas Highway that bisects Key Largo.

"This is a mural that is really the gateway to the Florida Keys," said Wyland, whose name is legally one word. "I’m a diver so I take all that inspiration and all that beauty and simply paint it up on the wall for people to enjoy.”

Wyland, who has residences in California, Hawaii and the Keys, has spent more than 20 years diving in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. He credits the Keys reef, the only contiguous coral expanse in North America, for inspiring much of his work.

The completed mural features islands, sunset, manatees, manta rays, corals, indigenous fish and bottlenose dolphins in honor of a stranded pregnant dolphin, Castaway and her unborn calf currently being treated at a Key Largo Marine Mammal Rehabilitation Center.
Like Wyland's previous walls, the Key Largo mural is designed to motivate environmental awareness and stewardship, particularly in children.

"Art is something that can touch people’s emotion," said Wyland, who began the Key Largo wall Feb. 1. "You can choose not to go into a gallery or a museum, but you can’t ignore a giant mural like this. If people see this beauty, I know they’ll want to get involved in protecting it.”

During breaks from creating the mammoth mural, Wyland painted separate canvases with kids, noting the importance of inspiring youngsters to preserve the world’s oceans.

Wyland, who began painting "Whaling Walls" in 1981, plans to continue his series internationally until he has completed 100 murals.

He intends to paint his last huge artwork, projected to be more than two miles long, in Beijing, with children from around the world, prior to the 2008 summer Olympics.
For more information, visit www.wylandfoundation.org.

No comments: