This dynamic duo has only been in Pensacola for a year this December but is already making a big impact.
“You can change people’s hearts and minds with art,” Joseph Romero says, before explaining that it was the existing art and potential of Pensacola that drew the couple here. Although partner Jacqueline Carter was born in Pensacola, she spent her childhood in Los Angeles before studying graphic design at Cal State Northridge.
Romero, who grew up in a Cuban immigrant household, shares that he has been drawing and painting his entire life. He was heavily influenced by street artists in his native Miami. His art career budded in the graffiti scene in the Wynwood neighborhood. Wynwood is one of Miami’s vibrant neighborhoods, famous for its colorful, eye-popping murals. Wynwood Walls is an outdoor museum with a collection of works by some of the most famous street artists.
“I watched first-hand how murals can transform a community the way it changed Wynwood,” he says.
When Romero was a child, he was captivated by the street artists and how the large-scale works of art could inspire people and cultivate change. He wanted to accomplish the same things with his art, so he began participating in the street art scene around 2007. He eventually began working as a commercial artist transforming businesses and spaces as a career.
After visiting Pensacola and seeing the potential for transformation, much like what happened with Wynwood, Romero and Carter began dreaming of making over empty walls and buildings, knowing the potential for impact.
“Art is viewed as elective and may be one of the first things in a budget to be eliminated, but it is a powerful tool that can change a community,” he notes while adding that profit margins can also be increased by the addition of a mural.
The pair recently tackled a 2,450 square-foot canvas at The Farm on Pensacola’s west side. The Farm is a locally owned market with fresh produce, local goods, soups, honey and so much more located at 6404 Mobile Highway. If you’ve ever driven by, you cannot miss the large metal, green-roofed building that stands almost as a welcome center for drivers entering Pensacola from that direction.
If you haven’t driven by recently, it is worth the drive to see that The Farm has put on her best lipstick and rouge with a lively mural completed by muralists Romero and Carter.
“It was important to us to illustrate a farm before the produce comes to you, like showing the produce on the vine, and also what keeps it alive with the addition of the bees,” Jacqueline adds.
The process with The Farm owner, Sandy Veilleux, was the same as it is with all clients. At the inception of the mural, the duo will sit down with the client to discuss the client’s goals. After brainstorming ideas, they provide one to three renderings based on those ideas. After an agreement is reached, the pair begin the contracted work of prepping the space. Each “canvas” (walls, tables, countertops, etc.) is cleaned, scraped, or readied for paint. Great care is executed to achieve a fresh and sustainable art piece for commercial use.
One of the things that touched Carter most was witnessing a mother and her little boy have an impromptu picnic to look at the mural. The mom ate while the little boy gazed at the art and colors on the wall. She also remarked that more and more people are coming from outside the local area, curious about the mural and eager to check out The Farm’s offerings. The pair is proud of how the new mural has also increased The Farm’s foot traffic, and thereby its sales.
The makeover for The Farm was a longer project, of two and a half months, due to the location, customer traffic, weather, and size. The pair has also completed a mural in as little as a day, but the length of each project is dependent on the scope of the work. At just $7 per square foot, Romero believes the return on investment is extraordinary.
In addition to offering large and small-scale murals, the couple has another business called Jungle and Reef, which will debut at next Friday’s Gallery Night.
Drive over to The Farm while you’re out and about. You will be amazed, not only by the mural but also by the wide selection of farm fresh produce and tantalizing food gifts! But watch out, the people are so nice you might end up inviting them to dinner with the yummy food you’re gonna make!
This story is a collaboration with The People of Pensacola.