BRADENTON — Sarah Taylor is a perfectionist and wasn’t satisfied with the shade of aqua on the mural of the manatee.
So that meant descending the three-story scaffold to remix more paint.
“I must go up and down 20 to 30 times a day,” said Taylor, a 29-year-old artist.
It’s a labor of love.
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On Monday Taylor was amidst painting the last of three 25-foot high murals with environmental themes, an ambitious volunteer undertaking in the courtyard at G.D. Rogers Garden Elementary School, the county’s first “green” school.
“I wanted to create something the school stands for and will make kids more aware of their surroundings and community,” said the Salinas, Calif., native.
Principal Wendy Acosta, whose school will be dedicated Oct. 24, is delighted.
“They’re going to be the school’s centerpiece,” she said. “Just beautiful.”
The murals depict:
— A bald eagle soaring past wind turbines.
— A Florida panther and child’s hands holding a “green” globe.
— A manatee, hydroelectric dam spillway, and corn for ethanol.
They represent sustainability, reusable energy and endangered wildlife.
They also represent Taylor’s devotion.
A 2005 Ringling School of Art and Design alum, she’s been working on the murals between other jobs over the past three months, weathering heat, high humidity and rain.
“It’s been exhausting at times, but I just stayed focused — and hydrated,” Taylor said. “Art has been my life, but I volunteered my time because this community has given me opportunities and I appreciate it.”
The ideas for the murals came from Taylor and her husband, Jason, the project architect for Fawley Bryant, which designed the school. The scaffolding and paint were donated by W.G. Mills and Sherwin-Williams, respectively.
Their proposal enthused the principal as art and as an educational tool.
“You’d be surprised how keen our youngest students are on being environmental stewards,” Acosta said.
“They seem more concerned about it than we are.”
They’ve definitely followed the artist at work, calling out as they go by.
“Some say, ‘Hi, Sarah.’ Or ‘Hi, Miss Sarah,’” Taylor said. “I can see they’ve loved watching the process.”
Two fifth-graders liked her art, for sure.
“The panther’s my favorite,” Paul Wiggins said.
Quindon Washington dug the bald eagle.
“I like how realistic it looks,” he said.
Roy Gordon, the school’s art teacher, admired Taylor’s talent — and courage.
“It’s inspiring to students to see art being produced in front of them,” he said.
“But I’d be nervous about being on the third level of that scaffold.”
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055, or write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, Fl. 34206 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.