Pretty soon, residents and visitors to New Smyrna Beach will be able to reel in a tarpon, pet a dolphin on the nose and get chased by a shark without even having to get their feet wet.
Steve Hardock, a local artist, painted an interactive mural on the building that houses The Hub on Canal at the corner of Canal and Magnolia streets.
Hub President Richard England said his board worked with the city and community members to ensure the mural would reflect the community.
“We wanted it to include iconic New Smyrna images and it needed to have an interactive component to it,” Mr. England said. “Something that draws people in, where they want to stop and enjoy all the different parts of it.”
Mr. Hardock was selected by The Hub in January after seeing his sketches for the proposed mural. His concept was just what they were looking for.
“I wanted something dynamic, bursting out of the wall. That was my first thought,” Mr. Hardock explained. “I also wanted to include lots of different historical images and wildlife, and create a singular work that blends them all together seamlessly. That’s the challenge. Making the wave from the shark blend into the surfer catching the wave and so on.”
Mr. Hardock was thrilled to be selected, he said. “Having the chance to do this was very exciting to me.”
The mural itself is 15 feet high and 50 feet wide. Mr. Hardock paints mostly in the mornings or evenings because of the sun. He balances on a ladder with his palette. The changing light conditions make it more challenging as does the surface of the building itself. But he enjoys the work and doesn’t seem to mind the conditions. “Every painting is an adventure,” he explains.
To make that adventure something for everyone, The Hub and Mr. Hardock are inviting the public to come out from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 18, to meet the artist, see the mural in progress and even add a few of their own brush strokes to the work of art.
Mr. Hardock teaches art to elementary school children and he is hopeful many children will want to come out to paint a little so they will feel a part of this important piece of public art.
The mural will incorporate the history of the area, including distinctive landmarks in addition to the sea life.
Mr. Hardock is an award-winning artist, originally from Pottsville, Pa., but has lived in New Smyrna Beach for almost 60 years. Besides teaching art in the Volusia County school system, he is also an artist for the Hamilton Collection and Bradford Exchange with more than 30 plates, sculptures and other collectibles to his name.
He works in several mediums, including oils, acrylics, watercolors and pastels. He exhibits at local art shows and museums and has created murals for the children’s room at the Museum of Arts & Sciences and the media center at Mainland High School, both in Daytona Beach.
The Mainland mural, in the school’s cupola, is 17 feet off the ground and 20 feet in diameter. The school commissioned Mr. Hardock to depict historically significant images from around Volusia County to commemorate the school’s reopening in 2006.
This new mural Mr. Hardock is creating isn’t the first public art to adorn the Hub building. In 1996, terra cotta reliefs created by local school children hung on the same wall. The reliefs, which were badly weathered from 22 years of exposure, were restored and are now featured prominently at the city’s Live Oak Cultural Center.
The mural will be a work in progress for several months. The Hub plans to have a big event to celebrate its completion sometime towards the end of summer, but people are already being drawn to its powerful allure.
“We saw somebody out there a day or two ago taking a picture with the shark,” Mr. England said. “This idea is the essence of New Smyrna. Hopefully a lot of people will enjoy it.”