A bright, strong, and vibrant mural in downtown WPB sees the future as a female – a warrior woman with a staff and a trusty canine companion.
Painted by Sam Weinberger, known as Big Sam for his formidable height, the work is called Big Optimism and was commissioned by the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority.
“They were looking for some more murals in the city,” Sam says. “And I happened to get in contact with them. He told them ‘Hey, here’s a new-to-WPB mural artist, and I think we could do an awesome project.’ And from there, I pitched a few walls I thought would be suitable locations and started working through the process of getting the design approved. It’s definitely a lengthy process. It was about a nine-month process before installation.”
Sam’s artwork is known for its bright, fresh colors and positive messages. He uses strong contrast between warm and cold colors to create portraits, landscapes, objects, and words. His artwork is narrative and representational, but abstract within the lines.
He says his paintings are created like a dance or music, and typically speak to current events happening around us.
He grew up in New Hampshire before moving to Boston for art school. Big Sam began to paint live in the streets once he arrived in Boston. This led to painting performances, commissions, murals, news coverage, graphic design jobs, and photographers.
So, what was his inspiration for the imagery?
“I like to think of it as a progression or a story from the left to the right. Many of my works revolve around ideas of the past, present, and future, optimism, and looking forward to the future of hope and togetherness. My work is also very much about bringing together cultures and ethnicities, about encouraging people to be inspired by colors and their relationships.
“She’s got elaborate jewelry on. There are earrings and a necklace. That’s the idea of being a warrior and looking into the future to see how we could change for the better.”
The mural in particular was focused specifically on West Palm Beach and how the city has grown so rapidly over the past 10 years.
“I’ve been around my parents who have been living there for the last six years. And my grandfather has lived there for 30 years, so we have seen the area grow and I was really inspired by that.”
“She has a dog. Every warrior needs a dog!”
The mural is very colorful. The woman depicted is African or Caribbean, part of the multicultural characters he develops.
What does he think this kind of mural brings to the community?
“I think that’s a good question for the people that are walking by to have their own interpretations of the work as well. It is a visual language that speaks visually. That’s one of the most powerful parts of the artwork is that it speaks visually. It really comes down to the person that’s looking at it to read the lines.”
“It is a piece that brings a lot of positivity and optimism to the community. It also gives you an opportunity to be inspired by your surroundings and take a break from your usual commute to work every day. It allows you to see the world differently and maybe think about the meaning of your work or your own day. And to me, it’s really about optimism, unity, and togetherness.”
She’s an urban warrior, in a tropical place.
While Sam is based out of Boston, he travels here often. During COVID, he lived here full-time and got to know the area well.
While this is his first mural for the city, he has done others in Jupiter for a car showroom and a private office.
Sam says, “I am working on potentially being part of the Palm Beach Art Show in February, and some restaurant commissions.”
He is on Instagram at @bigsamspaints
He has a YouTube Channel, Big Sam Studio, that shows his mural work in progress.
Big Sam’s Downtown WPB mural