It would be hard to miss Mitzi Gordon’s vehicle when it cruised past you in downtown St. Petersburg. Her used 1996 school bus turns heads on every corner.
“It’s like driving a big blue bird billboard around,” she said as she turned the corner onto 4th Street during a busy lunch hour downtown.
In a previous life, the yellow bus carried kids to class. Now, with a fresh shade of blue paint and some eye-catching birds flying down each side, it carries an artful message down Central Avenue.
“I rolled the window down and yelled, ‘It’s art?’”, she joked, recalling a time when pedestrians inquired as to what she was driving.
Creative group turns vehicles into works of art
As much as the busy represents art for passersby, it has come to represent much more to Gordon. She owes her painting passion for snagging her a boyfriend.
James Oleson is another St. Pete-based artist who works in all sorts of mediums. Three years ago, when Gordon was searching for talented, creative people to collaborate with for an upcoming art show called Carmada, where street artists put their inspiration and artistic vision on the sides of automobiles in a public space, she met Oleson. He was an artist who had experience painting murals on cars. She needed someone just like him for her show.
A few weeks later, they went on an official first date.
“It makes me smile and feel really blessed,” said Gordon. “We are very solid.”
Now, this past weekend, the couple (although Gordon prefers to use the term "partners" because it represents more than just their personal relationship) displayed their art again in a 4th-annual Carmada event.
There have not been any potholes in the relationship road yet for Gordon and Oleson and they hope to keep it that way.
“It’s maybe not your standard way to meet somebody,” said Oleson. “But, art has a way of bringing things together.”
Up ahead, with a jerk of the old school bus steering wheel, Gordon turned the corner with a smile on her face.
“The transformational power of spray paint and art is really something else,” she said from the bluest bus in town.