Not all works of art are found in a traditional gallery. Businesses, for instance, have found that displaying original art can enhance their ambience.
And this is not limited to framed paintings and sculpture. Often, transforming a large, blank wall means adding a mural or a graffiti-related work.
One business that went this route is Anytime Fitness, located at 880 A1A North in Ponte Vedra.
The 24-hour, full-service gym has been open for nearly two years. But last year business owner Deanna Yu realized it needed something on one bare wall.
“It needed something cool,” she said, “something that represents where we are.”
She mentioned it to trainer Jay Worley, who said he knew just the guy to take care of it: Beaches artist Beau Jenney.
Over six days in December, Beau transformed what was once described as a “big, ugly orange wall” into a mural celebrating both Ponte Vedra Beach and Anytime Fitness.
It has a strong graffiti influence but is very much reminiscent of those postcards featuring stylized words that always begin with “Greetings from …”
Stylized lettering reads: “Ponte Vedra Beach.” The words are surrounded by easily identifiable elements, including the business’s “running man” logo.
Though many artists working on such large pieces use a grid system to keep the details in proportion, Beau does it all freehand. It’s something that impresses Worley.
“It just blows me away that somebody can do that, freehand, without doing any type of lines or a grid,” he said.
The precise elements were the result of discussions between the artist and Yu, who wanted to emphasize the recognizable attributes of the community but also her business.
Keeping true to his client’s wishes was important to Beau.
“I can’t charge someone for something that they don’t like,” he said. “So, communication is key when it comes to commissions.”
Originally from Pittsboro, North Carolina, Beau and his family moved to the Beaches when he was six. He began drawing as a young child but didn’t get serious about his art until about age 15.
He attended Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville for about three years but left during his senior year to pursue football. Due to an injury, however, he never played a game.
In discerning his future, he fell back on what had really made him happy: his art.
“I can do realism portraits,” he said. “I can do business logos. I can do landscapes, as well.”
But his favorite genre is a type of stylized graffiti. His largest piece to date is a full interior wall at Toon Town Jax, a former warehouse on Talleyrand Avenue in Jacksonville that has been transformed into an arts and entertainment complex. The complex is run by Kyle Bryce Monteiro, who uses the professional name of KBM, an accomplished artist whom Beau says has inspired his own work.
Beau said another influence on his art has been the internet, which gave him an opportunity to see what kind of work others are doing. This was especially important in his early years when he lived in the suburbs and had no exposure to urban and street art.
Describing his art, Beau said he uses spray paint in a lot of fluorescent colors. For the piece at Anytime Fitness, he used about 20 colors.
To increase the brilliance of his colors, he often paints a layer of white underneath. He is cognizant of which colors are adjacent to other colors and places an emphasis on line.
“I’m a big stickler with straight letters and with line quality,” he said. “I believe the more precise your lines are, the bigger your stuff is going to pop out.”
One of the qualities in Beau’s work that people have noticed is how well it looks regardless of the viewer’s distance.
“It can look cool up close, but I had to make it look good from far away,” he said. “So I had to really push those values of darker shades of color.”
Those who were able to watch Beau work were impressed with his technique.
“Just to stand back and watch him look at what he’s looking at, I’m sure it’s more than what I’m looking at,” admitted Worley.
Where does this vision originate?
“It just comes out of me,” said Beau. “I really don’t know where it comes from.”