Artists rally to complete labor of love to honor Village of the Arts founder Herbie Rose

To call it a labor of love wouldn’t quite describe the time and effort that went into a 100-foot-long mural at the 13th Avenue West and Ninth Street West entrance to the Village of the Arts.

It took almost two years and about 15 different artists to complete the project to honor village founder Herbie Rose, who was named honorary mayor of the village by Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston more than a decade ago.

The site of the mural was originally painted by Rose, with his traditional watercolor Jamaican flair more than eight years ago, but the concrete on the building fell into disrepair and the mural was lost. Rose, himself, began to repaint the mural, but his failing health was catching up to him and the wall went unfinished for years.

“We all got together and agreed that we needed to rescue it,” said village artist Jo Ellen Gorris. While the new mural is different, Rose’s image dons the wall. “So the point of the mural became to put all of the villagers on the wall.”

Chris Turner said it was quite a task for “a bunch of 70-year old artists, so we would mostly work on it Sunday mornings. The traffic noise and heat were unbearable so Sunday mornings were more pleasant and there were more artists available.”

And not just artists. Turner said not a Sunday morning passed without someone stopping by saying they wanted to help, something Liz D’Aster said she truly appreciated.

“I was impressed with how many people would stop by or drive by and tell us, ‘Well done, we love it.’ That was truly wonderful,” D’Aster said.

The mural still needs a few touches here and there and then a final coat of sealant before villagers call it finished, but by all appearances, the mural is a completed new entrance way into the village and the final result is something special that honors both the village and Rose.

“What’s been great is the way the village came together for this,” said Amara Nash, a resident and the curator of the South Florida Maritime Museum in Cortez. “The social media reaction has been great and there is a lot of positive and enthusiastic reaction.”

Turner said thanks to donations of paint from individuals and the Artists Guild of Manatee, “What would have cost us thousands and thousands of dollars, ended up being about $150.”

But for the artists and residents of the village, every dollar, every ounce of paint and every drop of sweat was worth the long effort to rescue the wall once painted by Rose.

“We owe all of this to Herbie,” said Gorris.