TAMPA — Twelve stories above West Tampa, two artists from Idaho are putting a local touch on a neighborhood landmark.
Peter Goetzinger and his 15-year-old son, Orion, are spending the week painting matching murals on the 126-foot-tall city water tower at North Himes Avenue and West Spruce Street.
By the time they’re finished next week, “Welcome to West Tampa” will be emblazoned on the tower in designs reminiscent of cigar bands. In keeping with West Tampa’s bilingual history, one mural will deliver its message in English while the other does the same in Spanish.
While the Goetzingers do their job, a separate crew continues repainting the entire tower — warm yellow on top, khaki green underneath. Peter Goetzinger picked the colors to coordinate with his murals.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced the project in May 2010 as a way to welcome residents and visitors, and to honor the history and culture of West Tampa. City officials approved both projects last year — $350,000 for repainting the tower, $33,800 for the murals.
Goetzinger, 54, who has done murals on water towers and tanks in the Pacific Northwest, sees an opportunity to turn a easily ignored piece of public infrastructure into a standout piece of public art.
Goetzinger won the city contract with is brother, Rolf. But Rolf stayed home so Peter could give his son, an artist and musician, a chance to try out the family business.
The pair began working 12 hours day on Monday: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with breaks for the mostly afternoon storms that sweep across the city.
Goetzinger said he hopes to have the work done by early next week.
“We’ll see if the weather cooperates,” he said.
From their perch on the tower’s catwalk, the Goetzingers can see some of the historic cigar factories that inspired their design.
The cigar industry was as much a part of West Tampa’s founding story as it was for Ybor City. Founder Hugh MacFarlane created the area as its own town at the end of the 19th Century specifically to compete with Ybor City. West Tampa became part of the City of Tampa in 1925.
The water tower has stood in the neighborhood since 1954. It and a matching tower next to Plant High School provide the city with water reserves in case of a hurricane or power outage.
Goetzinger’s mural will be visible from Interstate 275, North Dale Mabry Highway and other surrounding streets.
“It’s really great to be selected for a project like this,” Goetzinger said. “It’ll be up there for many, many years.”