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My Favorite Florida Find So Far – Paint The Trail

Posted by David on April 8, 2014 in America, Travel |
Just a small section of the "Paint the trail" art work viewable along Seminole County Trail near Longwood, Florida.

Just a small section of the “Paint the trail” art work viewable along Seminole County Trail near Longwood, Florida.

Not only is Orlando about as far away geographically as you can get from Seattle in the continental US, its also very different culturally. I say this having spent a considerable amount of time in Mickey’s backyard visiting Renee’s parents on many trips over the past 16 years.

“Artsy” is not a word I would typically use to describe Orlando – but today when I was out for a run along the Seminole County Trail, I was pleasantly surprised when I observed a number of paintings and murals that ran the length of a privacy fence that lined the trail. It was so off-beat and cool I had to do a double-take. Was I really seeing this in Longwood? The paintings ranged from Betty Boop to Wonder Woman and Ghostbusters to Prefontaine. I didn’t count but there are easily more than 50 paintings you can observe on both sides of the trail. There is even a chalkboard in the middle with a sign encouraging others to write a message or leave their own art – with a bucket full of chalk and wet rags provided. I noticed a sign on the end, it said “Like Paint the Trail on Facebook.” I made note to do just that as I snapped a few photos of some of my favorites to share with others. I just absolutely loved what appeared to me to be a spontaneous work of art that obviously grew beyond original expectations.

A touching tribute and thank you honoring 3 Navy SEALS  and other veterans who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A touching tribute and thank you honoring 3 Navy SEALS and other veterans who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So I checked out the Facebook page and website tonight and learned the story behind Paint The Trail. The artist explains:

“I put a couple of paintings up on my mom and dads fence that faces the bike trail as sort of a joke. I hadn’t planned on hanging any more of them. My mom kept telling me stories of how people passing by would comment and compliment them. I painted a couple more, and hung them. It seemed as though my parents were getting a kick out of it. I would paint more, and hang them as it was getting dark outside. I thought for sure I’d get caught and get yelled at, or at least threatened to have the county called on me. I’m still not sure if what I’m doing is against some kind of code. The more paintings I hung, the more stories of compliments I heard from my parents. This fence painting stuff has spiraled out of control now. LOL! I’ll be painting the entire length of their privacy fence now. My parent’s neighbor wants me to paint on his fence now. That’s a lot of paintings. I hope to get some good suggestions from the people who walk and ride the trail. The past few times I’ve been out there putting up something new, people stop and chat with me. Everyone has been very nice, and I really appreciate all the compliments : ) I’m only planning on keeping this Facebook

One of my favorite paintings naturally was of Oregon Duck and US track icon "Pre"

One of my favorite paintings naturally was of Oregon Duck and US track icon “Pre”

account until I’m finished painting the fence, or fences. Maybe I’ll paint the fences all the way to Lake Mary Blvd. HA!! How far’s that again?”

The photos I took and those that are shared on Facebook and the website really don’t do the project justice – it needs to be seen in person to be truly appreciated.

This is the kind of movement I hope picks up steam in other parts of the country – including Seattle. It would be great to see similar works of art pop up along the Burke-Gillman or Interurban Trails in the area. I am a big believer in art and what it brings to our lives – and I say kudos artworkbyjeff@gmail.com for his imagination and work here!

3 Comments

  • SB says:

    The even cooler part of this project is how Jeff, the original artist and now project coordinator, has turned this into a true community effort. He assembles panels and allows others to paint their own images. He’ll even take requests and create a “paint by number” panel for those with less artistic inclination so they, too, can be a part of this tremendous project. Every panel has a story. Jeff does this for free. A lot of his materials are upcycled…discarded fence panels and paint collected at the dump, or donated by others in lieu of disposal. He also donates his own paintings to a number of charities and is currently helping a school for troubled teens paint the exterior of their building with historic figures such as MLK and Anne Frank. Feeling even more inspired? You should be. 🙂

  • Silvia Lakey says:

    Great article!! We are happy to have Jeff as one our artist at Gallery On The Edge. He is a very talented artist and a great person.

  • Julie says:

    Another thing that’s cool is many of the components are recycled – several of the fence posts themselves are rescued from scrap heaps, and the paint comes from the local dump instead of being trash and toxic. A win all around in those instances!

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