If you’ve driven into downtown St. Augustine recently by way of Anastasia Boulevard, you’ve probably found yourself doing a double take when approaching the Bridge of Lions, and spotted the latest in public, street art, that is gracing the exterior of Rochelle’s Boutique.
Spanning the entire height and width of the building’s East side — covering a 16 x 30 foot area — is a vibrant, intentional work of art brought to life by the hands of local artist Christie Chandler.
Titled, “Love is the Answer,” the completed work of art actually says (spells) love. Can you see it?
Inspired by murals and graffiti abundant in art districts of larger Florida metro areas, such as St. Pete and Miami, Rochelle’s owners Tom and Karen Rochelle wanted to create a work of their own to share not only their customers, but the St. Augustine community.
“Tom and I had always been interested in the idea of a mural on the building, but had not actively pursued it,” said Karen. “Christie has been a customer of Rochelle’s for many years. One morning in September she walked in not as a customer but offering her services as a muralist. She was excited, talented and looking to develop her business “arts-evolution.” We asked, ‘When can we start?’ The universe at work!”
For Christie, working with art lovers Karen and Tom Rochelle was an easy fit. “Being in the fashion business, they already had an innate understanding of aesthetics and are all for positive messaging in the community, which is one of my primary concerns as well,” she said.
Together the Rochelle’s and Christie bounced ideas back and forth until they arrived at a shared vision — what became the Love Mural.
“We shared some of the murals we’d seen in Miami’s design district that we found interesting with Christie, and she shared some of her art work and ideas that excited her. We went back and forth discussing the aspects — color, design, impression, message — that we each found intriguing, until Christie created this one,” explained Karen.
Though the approval process took several months, the actual artistic execution onsite at Rochelle’s only took Christie 12 days, or about 70 hours of total work time over the course of the month, working in between rainy and extremely windy days. Working within specific guidelines, there was great intention put into choosing a bold color palette that would fully convey the essence of Rochelle’s, and not lose its strength over time.
“I used outdoor paint with both gloss and UV protectant to prevent fading,” said Christie. “I was very pleased at the vibrancy of the color, and the choice of rich jewel tones really made the color sing.”
Beyond the color selections, Christie first created a grid of her design on graph paper, so to break the image into parts and proportionally scale it to fit the side of the building. When it came time to take on the real canvas — the exterior building wall, Christie used scaffolding to be able to reach every bit with ease. “I rented scaffolding and with the help of my husband, faced my fear of heights and painted at a second story level the final week,” she said.
The completed mural delivers something new and exciting for Rochelle’s, the entire Boulevard, and the community.
“I think the visual excitement created for customers, residents, and visitors continues to add to Rochelle’s 31-year history of doing things differently, and reinforces our own unique brand and sense of style and fashion through art,” said Karen.
Beyond the Rochelle’s enthusiasm over having this piece of art as part of their boutique’s identity, they are passionate about the artistic touch it adds to the Boulevard and its impact on the street’s developing identity as a destination, rather than simply an “entry corridor” residents and visitors pass through.
Christie is equally pleased with the outcome, and having her hand in creating a statement piece that can be publicly shared — one that breathes more artistic life and personality into the community.
“A surprise splash of color or an unusual sculpture in an unexpected place makes exploring the city more interesting. For St. Augustine, a city whose economy is tourist-based, there is absolutely a need to preserve and protect its history, for those who come to see what life looked like in a certain time period,” said Christie. “However, a city must also recognize its locals, especially the youth who want to express modern ideas and thoughts in a creative way. Surely, there can be a balance.”
BLOCK PARTY EVENT
Now that the mural is finished, Rochelle’s is celebrating with a block party during the upcoming First Friday Art Walk, March 4, from 5 to 8 p.m. The event will include a pop-up gallery with Christie’s prints and select paintings for sale. And of course, the event will showcase the latest in Rochelle’s fashion, including graphic tees from Wildfox and Chaser; plus bohemian looks from brands including Jen’s Pirate Booty and Free People.
104 Anastasia Blvd, www.rochellesclothing.com
Arts-Evolution is Christie’s way of combining her marketing and art backgrounds to help businesses reach branding and identity solutions, or create an atmosphere for customers with the help of artistic installations. Learn more about Christie and her artwork at www.christiechandler.com.