Marine murals of the Florida Keys

MAGNIFICENT MARINE MURALS for a Florida Keys road trip.

Sometimes what you discover on land takes you by surprise. In the Keys we did not expect to be blown away by the aquatic life we discovered on the street.

The Keys, a coral cay archipelago located off the southern tip of Florida, is an ocean art lover’s paradise and has a collection of wonderful marine life murals. After unexpectedly stumbling onto some of them, we were intrigued and decided to find out more.

Mural nr 1 – Whaling Wall #87  – Florida’s Radiant Reef, Marathon – by Wyland with guest artist Guy Harvey.

This mural on K-Mart’s wall, 46m (150ft) long x 6m (20ft) high and was completed in 2001 and is part of a campaign started in the eighties by the artist Wyland started, which can only be described as monumental madness. He decided to complete 100 life-size public marine murals  to “increase appreciation and understanding for aquatic habitats and the life within”. One hundred murals indeed.

“We know now that water connects all the countries of the world,” Wyland says on his website. “ The health of our ocean and waterways are in jeopardy, not to mention the thousands of marine animals and plants that face extinction if we do nothing.” Today the completed “Wyland Walls” campaign is one of the largest art-in-public-places projects in history, spanning five continents, 17 countries, and 79 cities around the globe. To see all his murals visit the Wyland Foundations’ site for a scroll through. Hint – This is a marathon not a race – see his other walls at his site

Mural 2 – Yoslan O’Farrell Mural – Marathon Veterinary Hospital

It was a little tricker to find out more about the bright mural on 5001 Overseas Highway, Marathon but it turns out the artist is a Cuban-born and Keys native Yoslan O’Farrell. When the Marathon Veterinary Hospital recently moved to its new location it inherited a mural which was painted 16 years ago by a young artist and which the City Council was keen to preserve. It was a lot to ask, however, as the mural interfered with their renovation plans.

The new owner, veterinarian Dr Doug Mader, tracked down the artist, who was by now living in Las Vegas as a successful painter and being a former Keys native, O’Farrell “volunteered to come paint the new mural for free, as long as we’d cover the materials. It was amazing, and it looks amazing. I didn’t want it to look like one of Wyland’s walls because we don’t have whales down here. So every animal on here is one that I’ve treated – except the sailfish. The artist just likes sailfish,” said Dr Mader.

Mural 3 – Whaling Wall #95  – Keys to the Seas, Key Largo – by Wyland and Guy Harvey.

A 700-square-metre (7500-square-foot) representation of the living coral reef that parallels the Florida Keys, Wyland’s 95th mural for the Scuba-fun Dive Centre wraps around a four-story, four-sided building at mile marker 99.2 in the median of the Overseas Highway that bisects Key Largo. The mural was dedicated in 2007 and according to popular gamefish artist Guy Harvey again contributed.

“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,” Wyland said at the unveiling.


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This entry was posted in From the travel archives, Mural & Street Art.