Old Southeast Neighborhood (OSE) residents with a keen eye may have peeped a brightly colored octopus protruding above the fence line at a home near Lassing Park. Towering in the backyard of Wayne and Kathy Boudreaux’s home lives an underwater scene painted by St. Pete artist Alyssa Marie.
The mural, which was painted at the end of 2022, is impressive in scale and certainly makes a splash in the Old Southeast, a designated Artist Enclave.
Check out an interview with Kathy and Wayne about their new piece of art and how they landed in Old Southeast.
Q: How long have you been OSE residents and what attracted you to OSE?
A: We are both long-time Florida residents. Kathy’s hometown is Bradenton, and we spent our child-rearing years there. When our kids found personal and professional goals that led them out of the state, we decided it was time to focus on what we like to do: Live in a friendly community, close to good food, live entertainment, and a lifestyle that takes advantage of the natural beauty of Florida.
We quite literally found OSE by mistake in 2019. Knowing very little about the people or history of this funky neighborhood, we quickly decided to take a chance and buy a property to build a home that would fit our needs as empty nesters. Our Bradenton home sold right away, and we were lucky to find a rental just two blocks from our homesite, easily monitoring the construction progress daily. During the Covid shutdown all organized OSE activities came to a halt, but we enjoyed our proximity to downtown for bike rides and take-out meals. For us, it was a blessing in disguise because we got to know so many of our OSE neighbors during that time, just by hanging out in the neighborhood. Everyone was wondering what the “new normal” would look like, and the support and kindness of this community was amazing.
Q: It’s no secret that you had a large mural installed on your property. Tell us a little about the artist and the process you used to come up with the design.
A: Our new build left us with a large blank wall on the side of our garage as the main view from our living room. Since OSE is one of two designated Artists’ Enclaves in St Pete, we knew our neighborhood embraced individuality and creativity, so we decided a mural was the best idea for that space. Kathy had been following several mural artists on social media and during the lockdown we visited many of these murals on our bike rides. It gave us a sense of normalcy in those strange times.
The first artist we invited to see the wall was Alyssa Marie, whose murals around town were among our favorites. When she saw the huge empty wall. she immediately got excited, telling us she had never had such a large canvas at a private residence. When she asked what our vision was for the wall, we told her we were thinking of an octopus with an underwater theme. Alyssa’s eyes lit up and she promised to have a mock-up for us in about a week. When we saw the mock-up, we looked at each other and said “YES!” Alyssa had 100% creative freedom to bring her vision to life. We never guessed we’d end up with a 45’ wide by 18’ tall mural that can be seen half a block away. As Alyssa posted progress pics on her social media, people from outside the OSE began searching for it, almost as a scavenger hunt. People really seem to love it, and we do too!