“We will not be afraid.”
This is the message that artist Beau Bradbury sent to Miami when his mural, ‘You Don’t Scare Us Irma,’ went viral before the storm hit.
Painted on the side of the Geneva Hotel on 15th and Collins in Miami Beach, the hourlong street art project became a popular and powerful message of strength for the South Florida community.
The mural features UM’s mascot, Sebastian the Ibis, in his UM gear, ready to fight. Next to Sebastian is the phrase “You don’t scare us Irma” in big bold letters.
“During Hurricane Irma, the press instilled fear and panic among the people of Florida,” Bradbury, 33, said. “I wanted to show that we are strong and unafraid of whatever storm tries to destroy us. The city was a ghost town. I wanted to take advantage of the situation. I had no idea that it would go viral.”
Bradbury was out walking Thursday night before the storm hit, when he came across a large, empty, plywood-covered space on the side of the Geneva hotel.
“I chose a location, grabbed paint and hit it out,” Bradbury said. “It didn’t take me more than an hour. The manager came out of the hotel and started to complain, but then realized the significance of the piece and started to take pictures … Now the owners of the Geneva hotel want to keep the mural.”
Bradbury isn’t a graduate of UM, but he chose the Ibis as the focus of the mural because of its boldness in the face of a hurricane.
“Legend has it that the ibis is the last one to leave during the storm and the first to return,” he said.
Bradbury, an established street artist, moved to Florida from New York a few years ago, and he’s familiar with the challenges of street art. In 2015, Bradbury painted the phrase “Go Mets” on an entire block in New York City. He said the cops warned him to be careful but they ended up taking pictures of the art and posting it to Instagram.
His street art has gained traction and even been shown in books and documentaries, but Bradbury said he still feels like somewhat of an outsider.
“It’s really hard to make a living as an artist,” Bradbury said. “I’ve been doing this for 15 years, and I feel like I’ve been blacklisted by the ‘high end’ art community, but that doesn’t matter. I want to be known for my work.”
Bradbury said he believes there are different varieties of artists; each has a place, is unique and is equally important.
“Society needs artists,” said Bradbury. “Pursue whatever your heart desires. I have worked with the biggest people but I’m still little old Beau in my opinion.”
Bradbury’s Ibis art often pops up on his website and Instagram. He hopes to do an Ibis-themed art show at the University of Miami and teach a street painting class.
“The power of art and the power of graffiti is stronger than we think,” Bradbury said.
For more of Beau Bradbury’s art, follow his Instagram, @Beau_____ or check out his website, beaubradley.com.