In our quest for “good” art, many of us would never think to look in our own backyards, but here in Stuart, that’s exactly where some of the best art is hiding. Downtown Stuart itself is filled with countless hidden treasures, many of which most of us hardly notice in passing. Some of our favorite stores may even have a beautiful mural painted right next door. This is the case with Matilda’s, where next door an intriguing mural depicts early settlers picking fruit. It’s little things like this that give Stuart its character.
The not so hidden gem, the Stuart Sailfish, is typically the piece that characterizes Stuart to the public. It’s in the middle of a roundabout downtown in a fountain, and unlike some of Stuart’s other art, it’s pretty hard to miss. Skillfully crafted by Stuart’s own Geoffrey Smith, the piece lives up to all the hype.
With the exception of the Stuart Sailfish, the majority of our local art flies a bit more under the radar, especially some of our murals. Above the tourist information center is a breathtaking mural of tabebuias, a yellow flowering tree characteristic of Florida. The mural is painted on the top of the building, immediately giving tourists a great impression of the local art that Stuart has to offer. Another mural depicts Stuart as the “chrysanthemum capital of the world.” It’s located near local Italian restaurant Lou Ronzo’s. The mural shows two people (perhaps a mother and her son?) picking chrysanthemums in a meadow. Even from the sidewalk below or across the street, the detail is undeniable. Out of Downtown Stuart, on Colorado Street, lie the rest of our local murals. On the side of Importico’s, there are six murals, each illustrating a different aspect of Stuart. Some of the more recognizable ones show the Roosevelt Bridge, the Stuart Sailfish, the old courthouse (now the Courthouse Cultural Center), and the intracoastal. The other two murals show Stuart earlier in history, one showing two people picking corn and the other showing a railroad station in Stuart.
The last of Stuart’s hidden treasures come in the form of five sculptures and mosaics. The five sculptures, known as Waterbirds, were also created by Geoffrey Smith and can be found all up and down Colorado Street. Each sculpture is a different bird, characteristic of our area, each with the same metal appearance. All of the birds display Smith’s style and detail. Finally, the last hidden treasure isn’t found anywhere near the typical Downtown Stuart area, instead it resides at another popular hotspot – the Stuart Beach. This particular treasure we’ve all probably seen, though maybe not analyzed, as it’s located on the primary bathrooms at the beach. The colorful mosaic shows a mermaid and dolphins swimming, giving off the playful, beachy vibe that we all love about Stuart.
Each of these pieces of art characterize Stuart. They each show some aspects that Stuart is known for and some pieces of its history. These pieces may not be noticed by each and every one of us every day, but they’re always there, adding character and physically showing what each of us experience here. So next time, you’re looking for some “good” art, explore the hidden treasures found only in Stuart.
By student volunteer, Olivia Brogdon