In Port Everglades, Bill Savarese stares admiringly at his just-finished mural, a shimmer of green, blue and magenta waves splashed across two walls of an administrative building overlooking the harbor.
His mural lacks a title, but Savarese knows what it represents: a Broward County milestone. This week, Savarese and his 800-square-foot artwork complete the first stage of VisualEYES, an ambitious street-mural project launched by the Broward Cultural Division to celebrate the county's 100th birthday in October.
"The port is this huge economic engine in Fort Lauderdale — hell, the whole county," says Savarese, of Pompano Beach. "So I wanted the mural to convey that same vibrancy, to show how water and light bends and reflects the colors of South Florida."
VisualEYES falls under the Cultural Division's fleet of community events and family-geared activities called Broward 100, a county- and taxpayer-funded initiative that kicked off with a block party last October and will end with this October's Duende, a theater and performance-art festival at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.
The Port Everglades mural is the first of 10 giant urban murals by 11 local artists that will appear across Broward County over the next several months. Built to reflect the personality and character of the cities in which they appear, each mural will spring to life using public feedback gleaned from a series of community engagement meetings with residents and city officials. Starting Friday, the public can visit the Port Everglades mural, located at 2550 Eisenhower Blvd.
"The artists are listening to everything the community tells them," says Leslie Fordham, the county's public art administrator, who is overseeing VisualEYES. "They take that framework of public input and then filter it into an artistic interpretation of the neighborhood."
Broward 100's budget is drawn from corporate sponsorships, the county's Public Art and Design Program and the tourist development "bed tax," says Earl Bosworth, the Broward Cultural Division's director. Last fall, the cultural division used a chunk of that funding, $180,000, to hire the local muralists.
For his mural, Savarese will collect $25,000, according to his county artist contract. He says he submitted a pair of designs in March, after meeting with Port Everglades and Cultural Division officials, and on May 18 added his first coat of acrylic to the Amman Building.
"The port is all about water, so that's what the port's committee wanted. I hope I covered all their bases in an aesthetically pleasing, 1960s pop-art kind of way," says Savarese, whose best-known mural is his massive tribute to late South Florida jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius in Oakland Park.
Other artists involved in VisualEYES include Carla Rowe and Addonis Parker (collaborating in Pompano Beach), Alex Vahan (Sunrise), Ruben Ubiera (Tamarac), Elio "Evoca1" Mercado (Oakland Park), Luis Valle (Plantation), Eduardo Mendieta (Hallandale), Andrew Reid (Davie), Gary Moore (Miramar) and Nathan "Nate Dee" Delinois (unincorporated Broward).
Fordham says the next mural will be mounted at 6650 Davie Road, in Davie, on the north-facing wall of a cafeteria building next to the Old Davie School Historical Museum. Reid, who lives in Miami, expects to start work on the mural in late June or early July.