Public Artist Steed Taylor Creates ‘World’s Longest’ Street Mural in West Palm Beach
May 4, 2018
By Kim Megson
Public artist and designer Steed Taylor has completed the largest continuous street mural in the world, spanning the full length of Downtown West Palm Beach in Florida.
The mile-long ‘road tattoo’ is called Genii Loci, or ‘the protective spirits of a place.’ Local people were invited to paint parts of the mural – which takes the form of interweaving three-colour Celtic knots and emphasises the power of community.
The north of the tattoo passes the Sunset Lounge – the city’s historic jazz venue – where icons such as Count Bassie and Ella Fitzgerald drew as many as 1,000 people a night. It has now been purchased by the city for renovation, with plans in place to build a music-oriented park on the site.
Genii Loci, which was created during the city’s recent West Palm Beach Art Affair festival, is projected to last three years, before it will fade as nature takes over.
According to Taylor, the “ephemeral” installation is an integral part of the reimagination of the city, which has invested in a number of experiential activations like Culture Lab, a former Macy’s turned immersive art hub with rotating artists, which showcases the evolution of retail spaces.
The artist, whose pieces have made an imprint on global roadways such as Broadway in New York City and First Line Ring Railway in Beijing, said: “This socially engaging mural explores humanity’s attachment to public spaces and invites locals to participate in its painting and physical creation as they mark their presence on the city’s artistic development.”
The project was developed in collaboration with the City of West Palm Beach, the City Redevelopment Agency and Art in Public Places.
“My road tattoos are commemorative, site-specific, community-based, tattoo-inspired, public artworks on roads. They are a result of my investigation into repurposing a common public space for art and a desire to bring socially engaging art to where people live.”
“If roads are considered the skin of a community, then a road has a similar relationship to the public body as skin does to the private body. As people mark their skin for commemoration, communication and ritual, then a road can be marked for the same reasons. Names or other information are written in the design, a nondenominational prayer commissioned for the piece is said and the names are painted over sealing them in the artwork.
“Beyond the miles of beaches and fun-in-the-sun ethos, Florida is abundant with unique ecosystems, waterways, flora, fauna, history and people not found anywhere else in our country. To allow these unique aspects of Florida to survive and thrive, individuals fought, petitioned, lobbied and worked to keep them this way. Genii Loci is Latin for the protective spirits of a place and it is these people we are honouring with this artwork. The names of people who have protected and supported the unique native character are included in the artwork.
“Located on Rosemary Avenue from Okeechobee Boulevard to 8th Street, Genii Loci is a mile in length. Keeping with the idea of this artwork, we have painted a stylised combination of local native flora, braided lines emphasising the power of community, and music notations for the jazz standard Round Midnight as a nod to the Sunset Lounge and the unique history it represents and its continued relevance.”
Local people were invited to paint parts of the mural – which takes the form of interweaving three-colour Celtic knots and emphasizes the power of community.