Artist Scott LoBaido paints an American flag mural on the Tampa Firefighters Museum to honor Sgt. Mike Nicholson.
Tampa, Florida -- An incredible work of art is going up in downtown Tampa that's 1,600 square feet of true love to honor a wounded warrior.
That's not paint gliding off Scott LoBaido's roller. That is passion.
"I have no control over it. It's another entity," LoBaido said Monday morning as he laid down the first strokes of an enormous American flag that will wave from the side of the Tampa Firefighters Museum.
Since the September 11th attacks, LoBaido has traveled our nation. On walls, rooftops, and race cars, he's given Old Glory new energy.
"I've seen the Mona Lisa face to face in the Louvre, I've gazed in awe at the Sistine Chapel, I've touched the statue of David by Michelangelo -- literally touched the statue of David," the artist said.
"But the most beautiful work of art in my world is the Star-Spangled Banner. It's the most powerful, the most beautiful, meaningful, recognizable work of art in the world."
The sprawling mural he's creating at Jefferson and Polk Streets in Downtown Tampa is dedicated to Tampa wounded warrior Sgt. Mike Nicholson, who lost both legs and an arm in Afghanistan.
"These kids that come back from war that made this ultimate sacrifice -- for me -- so I can be a 'crazy artist,'" LoBaido said, with his accent clearly showing his roots on New York City's Staten Island.
LoBaido says each huge project he takes on overwhelms him. And it's not just the 1,600 square feet he's trying to tackle -- it's the power of its purpose, and the people who made it possible.
"This guy sacrificed his limbs for me, and I'm gonna complain about, 'I can't get this done?' This is cake, compared to what these guys have done,"
The giant waving flag on the north side of the Tampa Firefighters Museum at 720 E. Zack St. is set to be completed Tuesday afternoon. It'll take Scott LoBaido about 14 hours to finish the mural -- but he can also paint a lot faster than that.
LoBaido will be live on stage Friday night at Tampa's Curtis Hixon Park at the concert to benefit Sgt. Mike Nicholson.
Here's a video clip of what he'll be doing -- creating an original American flag painting live on stage -- in less than three minutes!
That painting will then be auctioned off at the show and add to the money raised from ticket sales. All of the funds will go toward building Mike Nicholson a smart home right here in Tampa to help him live a normal life.
The smart home project is part of the Building for America's Bravest program, organized by the Gary Sinise Foundation and the Steven Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band will headline the benefit concert this Friday, May 10th, at 7 p.m at Curtis Hixon Park in Downtown Tampa.
Visit the support Sgt. Mike Nicholson ticket website for tickets. Tickets are $35 for lawn seating and $75 for VIP seating. Every dollar raised will go toward building Sgt. Nicholson's new home.
Grayson Kamm, 10 News