Ever wonder about the two 8-foot by-12-foot murals (currently covered for protection) that span the middle of the north and south walls of the ground floor garage? Although we don’t know why they came to be here or what will happen to them in the future, we have learned who the artist is and when they were created.
According to an old article in the Sarasota Herald Tribune by Kevin Costello, artist Sid Smith painted them in 1949. Displayed since 1960, the murals are reportedly the oldest and largest of their kind in the city. He also noted, “In size and quality of execution, the murals are unique, irreplaceable documents of historical importance. “
Little is known of the artist. The reporter found no record of him at the libraries at the Ringling Museum of Art and the Ringling School of Art and Design, and his conversations with the librarian at the Sarasota County Historical Society and with a local historian also revealed nothing.
The only clues came from the society’s archives and from the informal city museum that is Sarasota Lock and Key on State Street. The reporter noted Smith’s drawing style recalls book and magazine illustrations of the period: “Quickly rendered fine brush strokes detail the blended bursts of color that form the figures. They are bright cameos of life as it was then, decorating the maps like those that illuminated ancient sea charts, brimming with peoples from exotic lands.” Although accumulated grime has dulled the murals’ once-vivid colors, and heat and moisture have cracked the paint itself (particularly the south-wall mural), the writer believed the vigor and skill in Smith’s design was still apparent.