A crowd of dancers with pink and fuschia skin and white T-shirts, moves across the north-facing wall at 275 Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Street North.
On an off-white wall 99 feet wide and 14 feet tall, the dancers are painted from the waist up, or just chest and shoulders. They’re in the midst of vivid motion, dancing freely. Some are stretching upwards, some are bending, curving, looking down or to the side. All are in their own world, absorbed by the dance.
The dancers are abstracted, like a graphic novel illustration. Their skin stands out against the white wall in vivid pink, highlighted in fuschia, magenta and a striking orange-red on cheeks and lips and noses, as if sunlight’s falling on them from the upper left.
Each dancer is a distinct individual, but their faces are squared-off and simplified – like a quickly scribbled sketch – sometimes with literal scribbles painted in.
The dancers’ white shirts are shadowed, wrinkled, tugged in all directions by their muscles reaching, twisting, turning.
The line of dancers starts a few feet from the wall’s left edge, past a high-up horizontal window. A woman with her hair in a bun on the top of her head, leans to the right, one arm dangling past the window to the ground, one arm reaching to the right, half-hidden behind the largest dancer – a man with a mustache, and long hair dangling from a bun behind his head, looking up and toward the left.
Pictured from waist-up, his head almost touches the roof. His left arm swings across his belly. His right arm reaches up, beyond the roof – the image cut short by the roofline just above his elbow.
Just to the right of him, three women dance together. Closest to us is a woman seen from the shoulders up, facing left, with long dark hair that’s partly tied up in a bun and partly flowing down her back. She flings her left elbow up, pointing toward us. Her face is mostly salmon-colored, with grey highlights.
Behind her, on her left, a slim woman with close-shaved hair looks up and to the left. She’s painted from the waist up, her white shirt twisting as she flings her left arm toward the top of the wall. This arm is just a pink outline, with a purple scribble at the elbow and a patch of pink behind her wrist.
To her right, a strong woman in a tank top, with long dark hair combed off her forehead and tucked behind her ear, also looks up and to the left. Together, these three women form a group, though the woman at the bottom with her elbow raised is looking left, toward the street, not up, where the other two women are focused.
Just to the right of these three woman, a large group of dancers spreads across the center of the wall. The focal point is the woman on the left, larger and closer than most of the dancers. Her body faces left but her face is turned toward us, eyes lowered, lost in the music.
Her long dark hair is pulled back from her face, with light blue scribbles around her face and part of her hair blocked by a horizontal window. Her face is pink, with red nose and lips, and purple scribbles on her cheeks.
Over her shoulder, to the right, a woman’s head turns away from us. The pink outlines of three arms and hands rise up. A pink face with red hair is half-hidden behind a tall, muscular African American man facing left, with purple skin and head shaved clean, neck tilted all the way back, partly obscured by another horizontal window, his face raised to the sky.
He’s dancing back to back with an even more muscular man facing right, his long hair tied up in a loose knot. His face and hair and muscular right arm are dark purple. The topknot of his hair is a purple outline, like a sketch.
To the right of this center group is a simple purple outline of a man and woman dancing. Her back is to us, her hair tied in a loose bun, her head resting on his shoulder. His head is shaved, eyes lowered, turned in profile to the right.
This simple sketch of their heads, the woman’s shoulders, a hint of other people dancing just behind them, gives the essence of this romantic couple, dancing close. Only the man’s left hand is filled in, resting on the woman’s right shoulder, carefully painted in pink and purple, with white highlights.
Just to their right is the last trio of dancers. A man in a loose white tank top faces us, painted from chest up. The shoulder on our left hunches up, his arm angling to the left as though he’s twisting, turning, very close to the couple drawn in outline. The shoulder on our right twists down and toward us.
This man forms a triangle with two men dancing close together, to the right. The man in the center is taller, facing us, with short hair and a close-cropped beard and mustache. He looks down, eyes lowered, at the man he’s dancing with, the last man on the wall.
This man has his back to us but he’s turning, in profile, looking down and to the left. He has a thick mustache, and long hair in a bun. The top of his head is obscured by a small horizontal window.
The title of this mural is Ecstatic Rhythm. Taylor White is based in North Carolina, and often paints bodies in motion. She expresses movement as gesture, and dancing as a flowing form, so her work is loose and free. She says this mural is a celebration of life, community, and freedom.
The mural is entirely brush-painted. Taylor had assistance from many local artists, when her time in St. Pete was cut short, and she had to complete the work in time for her grandfather’s funeral.
Mural by Chop ‘Em Down Films