Painting on the first two in a series of murals to be created in the Lido Beach Pavilion begins this weekend, and select members of the community will participate in the under painting on the works, with social distancing guidelines in place.
A community task force formed by the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County and Visit Sarasota County has been behind the process leading up to the murals, with local artist Tim Jaeger heading the project team.
One of the first two murals will depict the Lido Casino, an Art Deco-style WPA project designed by architect Ralph Twitchell that stood in glory on the beach from 1940 to 1969, welcoming generations of citizens to its pool, ballroom, cabanas, band concerts, beauty pageants and sporting events. A balcony fronted by iconic sea horses was the most famous symbol of the casino, which eventually fell into disrepair and was razed, to lasting regret.
The second commemorates the historic “wade-in” protests led by Sarasota NAACP president Neil Humphrey Sr. in 1955, after beach access continued to be denied to Newtown’s Black community. Newtown residents piled into their automobiles, headed to Lido Beach in a caravan and made evident their intent to integrate the beach by swimming and walking the shore. Nevertheless, it took years, and more protests, for that goal to be fully realized.
Jaeger says the subjects of more murals to come (over the next several years) include indigenous people, the early fishing industry, the first causeway, St. Armands Circle, the historic South Washington neighborhood, the Gulf of Mexico and water ecology, the turtles and birds of the beach and Ted Sperling Park.
There are more murals in the works around town, not only at Lido Beach but in the Rosemary District, at Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s home, and elsewhere. You can learn more at sarasotaarts.org/paintsrq/.