TAMPA — World famous mural artist Tristan Eaton spent the past weekend painting his first wall in Tampa. The Los Angeles-based artist, whose work is part of the permanent collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, was brought to Tampa through a combined effort of CASS Contemporary art gallery in Tampa and Bern’s Steak House.
“CASS owners, Jake and Cassie Greatens, always thought that the wall facing Howard Avenue had great potential,” gallery director Janet Malin said. “This past fall, they approached Bern’s owner, David Laxer, about their idea to turn the wall into a powerful piece of art work.”
The Bern’s team was immediately on board, and they commissioned Eaton to create the mural in honor of the restaurant’s 60th anniversary.
“I love the shape of the wall,” Eaton said during a break from the spray-cans on Friday. “It’s really unique and it feels historic and important in its architecture.”
Working his first wall in Tampa has been an experience worthy of his stylish hosts. “They’ve been really good to me,” Eaton said. “Having a steak dinner after I paint, and being able to stay in the hotel directly across the street and have a view of the mural from the room. It’s a really amazing experience.”
The mural is sure to turn some SoHo heads with its rich palette of reds and oranges and its stylized depiction of large jungle cats intertwined with classical figures. The design was inspired by the restaurant itself, Eaton said.
“The place is filled with art, design and pattern. There’s ornate architecture and furniture … so I wanted to capture that regal heritage, with some humor and soul,” Eaton said.
ALL TEXT AND PHOTOS BY LANCE ARAM ROTHSTEIN