Famous faces of rock and roll line up along the latest mural on Clematis Street, greeting drivers, Brightline passengers and everyone else walking along the street. Further down the street on Narcissus, the former President John F. Kennedy and his First Lady Jackie are the subjects of a breezy new mural outside the Camelot Club.
It’s all thanks to the mad mural-making members of the art collective Street Art Revolution artists—Anthony Hernandez and Eduardo Mendieta, Bulks, PHD and Mayling Pao. It takes a village to get these murals done, as the artists work with the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and West Palm Beach Arts & Entertainment District, the Subculture Group and No More Starving Artists.
The expansive long wall outside Respectable Street was the site of one of the first murals in the downtown district that had other rock and roll images. Initially, they were all commissioned by RS club owner Rodney Mayo, now it is more of a city committee decision.
This latest installation is called “The Jam: Rock Icons,” and depicts five musical giants who passed away before their time was up – no cautionary tales included. Amy Winehouse, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Freddie Mercury, and Tom Petty are the faces, curated by Caron Bowman who says “We selected a list of departed rock icons that had a significant impact on culture. Some of the portraits we chose were inspired by images inside Hullabaloo Restaurant, near the mural site.”
The rockers make attention-getting facial expressions. Hendrix is in his full purple haze glory. “Freddie was never afraid to speak out and live life to the fullest. He believed in being genuine; a special kind of magic. That’s why I chose Freddie Mercury,” says Anthony Hernandez, who painted Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. The image he chose of Mercury sticking out his tongue is “a unique depiction that shows his fun side.”
Mercury has been back in the spotlight with the Oscar award-winning film Bohemian Rhapsody, is depicted at his piano in a white tank top – the outfit he wore to the massive Live AID concert. He gives a full force raspberry to those who would dare to declare he is not Queen of them all.
Winehouse, the retro blues-singing chanteuse sneers in her trademark monster beehive and big hoop earrings. Artist PHD, says “I chose Amy because of her soul. If you close your eyes when you listen to any of her records you will feel her deeply expressive voice right in your heart almost immediately. Her talent is truly beautiful. I jumped at the opportunity to portray her as she really was: a legendary once in a lifetime talent.”
Out of Gainesville, Tom Petty was a native Floridian who kept his deep Southern drawl his whole life. He became famous in the early days of MTV, with songs and videos that captured his golden boy shag appeal and slangy rocking songs. “I was probably around 13 years old when Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released the music video for ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More’,” says artist Eduardo Mendieta. “I loved the Mad Hatter and Alice in Wonderland imagery from that video. It became my inspiration for the mural.”
In his mural, Petty wears his big top hat with a knowing smirk in the mural, the black and white checkerboard flooring from the video swirling psychedelically around his Mad Hatter head.
Morrison of The Doors is depicted in all his rock-god glory, with shamanic conjured snakes writhing around his head. Morrison and his band had an infamous connection to Florida as he was arrested on stage in Miami for “indecent exposure” at a raucous concert there. The charges didn’t stick and were never proven, but surely went a long way towards confirming his sex symbol status well into the afterlife.
On the bay end of the Clematis strip, the wall next to Camelot Club, a place dedicated to the life and lifestyle of the Kennedy’s Golden era, has hosted JFK in his mirrored sunglasses for years. A joint effort between Anthony Hernandez and Caron Bowman, this new one will have the couple at its center in black and white, surrounded by ocean wave-like swirls of color.
The mural is inspired by early 1960s youth culture and the Kennedy era, boating, nautical iconography, and the strong family ties that the Kennedys had to Palm Beach and their long-time home there. Inside the club, the decor is filled with Kennedy photos, images and memorabilia, scenes of sailing and families laughing and the good life.
From rock Gods to political royalty, these new murals bring them all back to life and help enhance the visitor’s experience to Downtown West Palm Beach.