Artist: Hoxxoh, Photo: by Edel Mohr

Drew Merritt

About Drew Merritt

Based out of: New Mexico
Los Angeles-based artist, Drew Merritt, best known for his expressive and realistic portraiture work, strives to create empathy through the exploration of emotions. His ability to visually capture and honor the human spirit through paint has garnered Merritt respect as a contemporary artist among critics and peers alike.

About the Mural

Mask Off

Mask Off, by Tampa Bay artist Drew Merritt, faces south in a narrow parking lot at 551 Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Street North.

The wall is 89 feet wide and 12 feet high. Against a white background, tilting back across the left side of the mural, is a giant, lifelike portrait of a woman’s face and hands, holding the head of a small alligator. The curly brown-gold hair around her upturned face reaches past the top of the wall and seems to fall below the ground.

Her skin is golden brown, shadowed as if the sunlight hits her from the right. She’s in three-quarter profile, looking up and to our right, cradling just the head of a small alligator. The woman’s face is so large that this ‘small’ alligator’s head is the size of a car.

The alligator’s jaws are open, and she holds it like a trumpet – her graceful, huge right hand with lavender nails rising out of the ground and gently balancing the bottom jaw. Her left elbow rises from the middle of the mural and angles to the left. Her left hand is behind the alligator, fingers loosely curving up – except her middle finger. That fingertip touches the alligator’s head as if she’s pushing down a trumpet valve.

The alligator’s head rests just under her chin. Her neck is in shadow, but light touches the tendons at her throat. The blue of her right eye looks softly up, half-closed. Her lips are parted, colored in a dusty purple that harmonizes with her fingernails. We see the black and grey-blue swirls of her blouse, in shadow, as her left shoulder leans into the frame.

To those heading north on the sidewalk or the street, the woman’s face is striking, framed by potted palms and partially obscured by a large parking sign. If you’re heading south, she is invisible.

This mural was painted in spray paint. The design was created by Merritt on canvas, for a show some years ago in Tampa. The woman is model and actress Kari Michelle.

The right two-thirds of the white wall contain just the artist’s first name, the letters “d r e w” spelled out in small, stylized, black lower-case letters, each one painted high on the wall and spaced far apart. Merritt says he signs each work the same way, as part of the art.

Title: Mask Off

Address: 551 Dr ML King Jr St N

Building: Barkett Realty

Installation Date: 2019

Artist Jones2023

Rhys Meatyard2023

Greater Public Studio2023

Andrea Wan2023

The Happy Mural Project2023

Kelly Quinn2023

Bunnie Reiss2023


Chris Dyer2023

Max Sansing2023

Dave Bonzai2023


Michael Vasquez2023

Chenlin Cai / 蔡陈林2023

Loretta Lizzio2023

Sarah Sheppard2023

Bryan Beyung & James Lee Chiahan2023

Hannah Eddy2023

James Bullough2022


Ben Johnston2022


Marina Capdevila2022


Reginald O'Neal 2022

Van Der Luc2022

Jeff Williams2022

Dream Weaver2022

Sydney Prusso2022

Ashley Cantero2022

Egypt Hagan2022



Nneka Jones2022

Amy Ilic-Volpe2022

Jason Harvin2022

Vitale Bros2022

Chad Mize2022

The Happy Mural Project2022

Greg Mike2021

Mwanel Pierre-Louis2021

Jenipher Chandley2021

Case Maclaim2021

Jared Wright2021

Bakpak Durden2021

Nicole Salgar2021

Ricky Watts2021


Woes Martin2021

Jason Harvin2021

Miss Crit2021

Michael Fatutoa2021

Emily Ding2021

Reid Jenkins2021

Aurailieus Artist2021


Leo Gomez2021

Ya La'Ford2021


Chad Mize 2021

Brain Storm2020

Brian Butler2020

Lili Yuan2020

Happy Mural Project2020


Tatiana Suarez2020

Elle LeBlanc2020

Mason Schwacke2020

Alex Yanes2020

Kenny Coil and Marc Berenguer2020

Nneka Jones and Bianca Burrows2020


Cecilia Lueza2019

George Rose2019

Morning Breath2019

Vitale Brothers2019

Cory Robinson-CLEAN Campaign2019


Taylor White2019


Princess Smith2019

Brian McAlister, Gibbs High Mural Club and Boys & Girls Club Members2019

JR-Inside Out2019

Paola Delfin2019

Jimmy Breen and Anthony Freese2019

Drew Merritt2019

Low Bros2019

Jay Hoff2019

Taj Tenfold2019

Leo Gomez2019


Blaine Fontana and Plastic Birdie2019

David Charlton2019

Todd Frain and Creative Clay2019

Haider Ali2018

Ya La Ford2018

Gibbs Rounsavall2018

Angela Faustina2018

Bekky Beukes2018

LOOK The Weird2018


Melanie Posner2018


J and S Signs2018

Sarah Page2018

Nomad Clan2018


Cecilia Lueza2018

Matt Kress2018

Michael Vahl2018

Noirs One2018


Justin Wagher2018


Matthew Hoffman2018


Joram Roukes2017

Jose Mertz2017

Stephen Palladino2017

Yok and Shero2017

Herbert Scott Davis2017


Lauren YS2017

Mikael B2017

ZuluPainter and Thirst2017

Axel Void and L.E.O.2017

Suarez Art2017


Daniel "R5" Barojas2017

Sam Yong2017

Ali Vasquez and Todd Frain2016

Angela Delaplane2016


Arlin Graff2016

Pep Rally Inc.-The CLEAN Campaign2016

Daniel Mrgan2016

Pixel Pancho2016

Michael Reeder2016

Alex Pardee2016

Cecilia Lueza2016





Dasic Fernandez2016


Mark Gmehling2016

Ya La Ford2016

Ink Werkz Crew2016

Andrew Spear2015

Chad Mize, James Oleson and Pinellas County Center for the Arts2015

Erik Jones2015



Michael Vasquez2015

Shark Toof2015

Morning Breath2015

Ricky Watts2015


Carrie Jadus2015


Greg Mike2015

Tes One and Palehorse2015


Ya La Ford2015

Carrie Jadus2015

Vitale Brothers2015

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