Sarasota Street Art and Murals

By Andrew Fabian

As the line between “graffiti” and “street art” continue to blur—the former laden with connotations of illegality, the latter a term for more formalized projects—cities have begun warming to the idea of using buildings as blank canvases. In the case of Sarasota, a city so steeped in visual arts that one can stumble into a gallery accidentally, residents and visitors have been blessed with an abundance of commissioned murals by street artists both local and foreign. And, as the recent construction boom continues, developers are increasingly turning to murals as a way to beautify and set their buildings apart from the typical whites, grays and beiges of the average skyline. 

Street Art & Murals - A self-guided tour of cool street art and murals in Sarasota, Florida. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Murals And Street Art in Historic Burns Court

Some of the earliest and most celebrated (and controversial) murals in the city were painted by Mateo aka MTO, a street artist from France who first made a name for himself in Berlin, Germany. Like the more well-known Banksy of the UK, MTO also keeps his identity closely guarded in order to side-step the complications of celebrity status. But, that did not stop Sarasota, Florida art aficionados from tracking him down and commissioning him to produce murals, many of which still adorn the once-blank walls with his signature black and white, photorealistic images that engage with social issues. His work can be found near Project Coffee (538 S. Pineapple Ave.) in the Historic Burns Court district, and at Sarasota Architectural Salvage (1093 Central Ave. in The Rosemary District).

Mateo aka MTO street art in Historic Burns Court Sarasota, Florida. Street art and murals. Photo credit Laurén Ettinger. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo credit Laurén Ettinger
Mateo aka MTO street art in Sarasota, Florida street art and murals. Photo credit Nita Ettinger. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Street Art in The Rosemary District

But the overwhelming majority of murals now are commissioned to beautify and impress rather than stoke debate. The Rosemary District has recently enjoyed an economic bump in the form of new construction and a chic collection of shopping and dining establishments. And part of the district’s identity comes from its assortment of striking art installations. 

The Yoga Shack (514 Central Ave.) yoga studio has a message of empowerment on its alley-way wall that reads, “Strong in Flow, Light at Heart,” with a stencil-like rendering of a hand making the peace sign. 

Stong in Flow Light at Heart The Yoga Shack. Sarasota, Florida street art and murals. Photo credit Laurén Ettinger. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo credit Laurén Ettinger

On the wall of a Central Avenue art gallery, local artist Richie Brasil painted a larger-than-life depiction of Florida’s earliest inhabitants, based on a colonial-era illustration of the Timucua Indians. 

Richie Brasil larger-than-life depiction of Florida's earliest inhabitants - the Timucua Indians. Sarasota, Florida street art and murals. Photo credit Laurén Ettinger. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo credit Laurén Ettinger

In other instances, murals have been employed to breathe new life into old buildings, like the “DreamLarge” mural on the corner of Central Avenue and Boulevard of the Arts, an intricate, surrealist tableau on a prominent wall of the AtLarge office (1413 Boulevard of the Arts). https://vimeo.com/304232440

Dream Large surrealist mural Sarasota, Florida street art and murals. Photo credit Nita Ettinger. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Street Art and Murals Downtown Sarasota

Other noteworthy street art is scattered around the downtown area on office buildings and cafes. BOLD Lofts condominiums (1659 2nd Street) has a colorful three-story tall, tessellated rendering of David, an homage to both Michelangelo’s famous statue and the City of Sarasota logo that features its likeness. 

Colorful three-story, tessellated rendering of David, an homage to Michelangelo’s famous statue. Sarasota, Florida street art and murals. Photo credit Laurén Ettinger. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo credit Laurén Ettinger

Nearby, Kahwa Coffee Roasters (1487 2nd Street) features a striking mural by Max Ehrman, with bright swirls of color set against a black backdrop. 

Mural of bright swirls of color set against a black backdrop at Kahwa Coffee Roasters downtown Sarasota, Florida Street art and murals. Photo credit Laurén Ettinger. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo credit Laurén Ettinger

In a collaborative display of gratitude during the coronavirus pandemic, Sarasota Magazine, Raw Sugar Living, and the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County commissioned local artist Karen Chandler to create a mural to honor the bravery of Sarasota healthcare professionals. It can be found at Sugar Suites downtown office (1717 2nd Street). 

In a collaborative display of gratitude during the coronavirus pandemic, Sarasota Magazine, Raw Sugar Living, and the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County commissioned local artist Karen Chandler to create a mural to honor the bravery of Sarasota healthcare professionals. Sarasota, Florida street art and murals. Photo credit Nita Ettinger. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Street art, murals, installations, graffiti—call it what you will. Just don’t forget to look up.

Check out more things to do in Sarasota, Florida.

In a collaborative display of gratitude during the coronavirus pandemic, Sarasota Magazine, Raw Sugar Living, and the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County commissioned local artist Karen Chandler to create a mural to honor the bravery of Sarasota healthcare professionals. Sarasota, Florida street art and murals. Photo credit Nita Ettinger. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo credit Nita Ettinger
Where to see cool Sarasota, Florida Street Art and murals. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo credit Nita Ettinger
Where you can see cool Sarasota, Florida Street Art and murals. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo credit Laurén Ettinger
Where to see cool Sarasota, Florida Street Art and murals. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo credit Nita Ettinger
Sarasota, Florida street art - a self-guided tour. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo credit Laurén Ettinger

Written by: Andrew Fabian | Author Website

Andrew Fabian covers arts and food for various publications in Sarasota, where he has lived since 2005. He graduated from the University of Central Florida with a BA in English - Creative Writing. When he's not running around town to various restaurants and arts institutions, he enjoys a nice woodworking project or an evening on the couch with his wife arguing the merits of a television show or movie.

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