SHINE honored the historic Quonset hut-style Royal Theatre with a mural celebrating the history of what used to be one of the few movie theaters African Americans could visit. “I don’t think we’ve ever painted a historic building before,” admits SHINE Mural Festival Coordinator Jenee Priebe. “But we were able to get permission from the city to create a mural.”
Artist Brian McAlister worked with the surrounding community on the design. “There’s this really long, low wall,” Jenee explains. “The mural starts with the original history of the movie theater. There’s a film roll and bottle caps – because back then, if kids brought in a bottle cap, they could get in the movies for free.
“Then it transitions into ‘Great Futures Start Here,’ which is the Boys and Girls Clubs tagline. And then there are portraits of different famous people – some are athletes some are artists or movie celebrities. And at the end there are some actual portraits of students in the Boys and Girls Club program at the Royal Theatre. All the people represented have some connection to St. Petersburg or to the Boys and Girls Clubs, like Angela Bassett, Serena Williams.
“So it shows the history, starting from the movie theater then going on to becoming an arts program.”
Brian McAlister teaches at the Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School. Students from the Gibbs High Mural Club and members of the Boys & Girls Clubs program helped him get this monumental mural done.