Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the North Port Sun, written by Craig Garrett.

Another first for North Port.

A local artist soon begins a large wall mural in town. With the outdoor artwork depicting a small child, a storybook and birds, North Port joins other Florida cities such as Punta Gorda and Lake Placid, each with important and tourist-friendly murals.

Lake Placid — and its 50 or so murals portraying that city’s history — was once picked by Readers Digest as America’s most interesting small town. Punta Gorda has similar cultural contributions.

And while North Port has taxpayer funded artwork around town, a metal Roseate spoonbill sculpture, for instance, the mural is a first. City commissioners had pledged up to $10,000 of $20,000 in fees and costs. The mural artist, Laura Pommier, is a North Port Art Center instructor with smaller murals in her portfolio.

“It’s the biggest news for us,” said DeeDee Gorizon, North Port Art Center’s executive director, noting that Pommier has other work displayed in February at the new Wellen Park Welcome Center, where there is a rotating kiosk of select artists.

The First 1,000 Days, a Sarasota County nonprofit, had commissioned murals in North Port, Venice and the city of Sarasota. Local art groups put out a call to artists. The North Port Art Center had Pommier submit a suggested sketch. From some 1,000 submissions, her’s was accepted by judges. She begins the 750-square-foot acrylic mural soon, her work on about half of a two-story wall at the Quality TV building along Tamiami Trail. Owners donated that space.

Pommier poked through the internet for pieces of ideas, she said. Her submission is of a child on a rope-handled swing. She asked friends for advice on the work, “or which one speaks to you,” she said. “It was like a storybook coming alive.”

A mural, said Kelly Romanoff with First 1,000 Days and Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, a sponsoring nonprofit, “is the visible north star, a public celebration.”

Artists in the contest were to depict five principles or tenets in the First 1,000 Days campaign. The bottom line was family health: Research confirms that kids with purposeful parent/parents inside a supportive prenatal and infant network get a running start into adulthood.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, North Port and Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation are sponsors in the city project.

Quality TV’s Mike and Michelle Morales gave an outside wall as Pommier’s canvas. The stucco surface gets powerwashed and a primer to start. Pommier will use donated scaffolding and a lift to move about. She paints in sections, using an assistant to guide and fetch supplies, she said. The goal, she added, is telling a story in the seconds drivers whistle by, a curiosity prompting them to swing back to look more closely, she said, and to support the messaging.

“Our family,” Mike Morales said, “has always been involved in the community, from the (North Port Area) chamber of commerce to Little League. But it feels great they asked us to be the first (mural). It does.”

Added the city’s mayor on North Port funding its share: “It’s a huge deal,” Jill Luke said. “We wanted a pop, some bang … and we got that.”

About Barancik Foundation

The Charles and Margery Barancik family has long believed in the power of philanthropy to shape our world and enrich the lives of all people. It was the expression of this belief that led them in 2014 to establish Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation—a private, family foundation located in Sarasota, Florida.

1515 Ringling Boulevard, Suite 500, Sarasota FL 34236
The Barancik Foundation does not accept unsolicited requests for funding.

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