The Pier Parking Garage in the Pompano Beach Fishing Village has a colorful new public artwork. The first two floors of the exterior southeast corner stairwell, located where Pier Street meets Seabreeze Way, now feature a large mural that celebrates the variety of underwater marine life found in Pompano’s coastal waters.
The mural, called “Reef Life,” was painted by Taylor Smith, also known as Dreamweaver, a 28-year-old artist based in St. Petersburg, Florida. Smith used a pastel palette of greens, teals, purples and pink to create the sea creatures that are showcased in the artwork.
The mural is right next to the Pompano Beach Visitor Information Center, which is on the ground floor of the parking garage.
Pompano Beach Public Art Program Manager Laura Atria said the city’s Public Art Committee “is really excited for the piece to bring some vibrancy to the area.”
“We think it’s a great way to encourage tourism and promote the city in a positive light,” said Atria.
The mural covers the south-facing exterior and interior wall of the stairwell’s first and second floors.
The upper portion of the exterior wall is adorned with a rainbow parrot fish, four angel fish swimming among staghorn coral, and a school of small pink fish. The lower portion of the exterior wall features a pink skunk clownfish peeking out from long tentacle plate coral.
The upper portion of the interior wall comes to life with a large green sea turtle and a crystal jelly fish. On the lower portion of the interior wall, a group of sergeant major fish swims above elkhorn coral.
The City of Pompano Beach issued a Call to Artists for the parking garage stairwell mural in July 2022. To create a cohesive appearance, the requirement was that the new mural needed to match the color scheme and aquatic nature of the existing vinyl mural on the southwest corner of the garage, which depicts several large fish. The budget for the new mural was $15,000.
Smith was selected from among 70 artists who applied for the project. Before turning in her proposal for the mural, Smith came to Pompano to take a look at the parking garage stairwell.
“I thought it was a really interesting opportunity to create something immersive, where you see something new every time you turn a corner, and every angle is different,” she said.
Smith used five gallons of exterior latex paint for the base coat of the mural. For the design itself, she used approximately 70 different colors of artist’s grade acrylic-based spray paint. She said she enjoys working with cans of spray paint, rather than a brush, because it’s faster, and not as messy.
It took Smith about 90 hours to paint the mural, working 10 consecutive days.
The parking garage is located close to the beach, across from the Fisher Family Pier. A clear, UV resistant sealant was applied to the completed mural, which should help it withstand the salt water air, said Smith.
Smith noted that creating a mural has its particular challenges, compared to the canvas work she does in her studio.
“The labor is definitely intensive,” she said. “A lot of people think that mural production is just about the paint, but there’s a lot more that goes into it, including adapting to the weather.”
The wind was especially challenging while working on the mural in the garage stairwell, because of its proximity to the beach. The stairs were also “a real challenge.” Smith said that throughout the project, she had to be very aware of her footing because of the steps. She also had to stand on scaffolding in the stairwell.
Smith says her artistic style is inspired by nature and focuses on colors and vibrancy, with a touch of “surrealism.”
“I use realistic references and render them in sort of a psychedelic way,” she said. “The color work is fluid and intensified.”
Smith had an assistant, Austin Gee, who worked with her on the mural project. Gee, whose artist’s name is Art of Slim, helped with all the prep work, built the scaffolds in the stairwell, painted all the trim on the background, and did the color blending.
“I love that murals are a form of public art that meets you where you are,” said Smith. “And they’re large, so I feel they have impact. A mural reflects the culture of a community.”
While Smith was painting the mural, she received a lot of positive feedback from passersby.
“The community seems to love it already,” said Smith. “They are very excited to have something bold and bright in the Fishing Village.”