Wyland is back: World-renown artist restores giant marine life mural

Savannah Vasquez
Artist Robert Wyland returned to Destin this week to restore his giant marine life mural. Here he begins work on a new 22-foot manta ray.

World famous artist Robert Wyland is back in Destin this week and he is making giant waves and whales in the local community. The artist, renown for his 100 large-scale marine life murals across the globe, is on the Emerald Coast to restore his five-acre mural, Whaling Wall #88 painted on the Legendary Marine dry-storage warehouse at the base of the Mid-Bay Bridge.

Armed with 7,000 gallons of paint, Wyland is retouching the project he completed in 2001 and said this time the paint will stay bright nearly twice as long.

“We have a different kind of paint this time, it’s just been introduced to the market,” said Wyland. “It’s a 25-year paint made specially for corrugated steel that Sherwin Williams practically donated.”

In addition to touching-up the previous mural, Wyland said he will be adding new marine animals into the mix on this go-round.

“I want to do a giant bait ball with some billfish and maybe some sailfish and blue marlin,” he said. “I live in the Florida Keys now so I just like painting what I see.”

Although he usually chooses larger cities for his public art projects, Wyland said it was fate that brought him to the small fishing community of Destin.

“I was destined to choose Destin,” he said with a laugh. “Actually Peter Bos decided to build this giant canvas and wanted me to paint it right from the very beginning. I was hesitant for a long time because it’s so massive, but he really convinced me I needed to come here to Destin. People love this part of the world and I thought it was very appropriate; this city really embraced this.”

When it comes to scale, the Destin mural measures 1,480 by 60-feet for the marine life mural and, little known to passersby, there is a U.S. flag mural on the rooftop that measures 290 by 152-feet.

Wyland does not plan to repaint the flag on this trip, but his team member Tamara Smith said he has plans to come back in the near future to paint the entire roof into a flag which will measure 295 by 534 feet.

“With that scale, I think we’ve got a world record for largest flag on earth in any medium,” Wyland said. “I just Googled it.”

Although the rainy weather this week has set Wyland behind on his restoration project, he still made time to paint a mini mural with area students Wednesday.

“This is what the project is really about; educating the kids and getting them involved in preserving the environment,” Wyland said. “It’s the best part of the project; I get to paint with these young people, the future ambassadors of the planet!”

Wyland will be onsite painting Whaling Wall #88 at 4603 Legendary Marina Drive in Destin daily through Oct. 2. Meet and greet with the artist Oct. 2-3 from 6-10 p.m. at the Wyland Gallery 9375 Emerald Coast Pkwy. in Miramar Beach.

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