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Student muralists sought for Manatee Public Beach

By Lisa Neff, Islander Reporter

The concessionaire at Manatee Public Beach and the county arts council recently issued a call to artists in local high schools.

The Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe, 4000 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, and the Manatee County Cultural Alliance/Arts Council of Manatee County are holding a contest to paint murals on the north side of the beach restaurant.

For students and teachers who think big, there are four panels on the building, each measuring about 7 feet by 11 feet, said Mark Enoch, co-owner of United Park Service, which operates the county concession.

Enoch isn’t sure what to expect from the first contest, which is taking place this fall, but he’s hoping to establish an annual or bi-annual event.

Since taking over the concession last year, UPS has made a number of improvements and expansions to the property, including the addition of an outside tiki bar and an indoor ice cream shop. Most recently, a new sign was installed at the Manatee Public Beach entrance.

“We also have some plans for landscaping out front,” said Enoch.

Enoch is working closely with Dorothy Blum of the MCCA on the mural contest, and Blum is working with Manatee County School District officials.

She said she’d like to have school groups to enter the contest by Nov. 1, and possibly have the murals installed before the end of the year.

The awards are the artists’ designs in a high-profile public place — thousands of people visit the cafe each week.

But Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe, which also is providing the art supplies for the project, is offering a $200 first-place award as well second-place awards. Additionally, the cafe is offering gift certificates to participating teachers.

“We thought it would be pretty cool to involve the schools, to have a regular competition,” Enoch said.

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