For Tampa street artist (and Jimmy John’s delivery guy), downtown’s a canvas

TAMPA — On a sunny Friday afternoon in downtown Tampa, Glen Baham stood on the sidewalk outside a corner café, pondering a blank canvas in front of him.

Passersby slowed to appear at his assortment of abstract art propped alongside the wall of the Kava Lifestyle Kava Bar powering him — their bold shades, the urban feel.

“Nice,” a girl explained.

“You like it?” claimed Baham, 27. “Thank you very a great deal.”

So: What colors to choose for his next piece of road art? “Pink,” an individual suggested, and he was off, squirting and spreading the acrylic paint, grabbing a palette knife for texture. As he labored, the rap music “Smoothie at Midnight” played on his earbuds, and the folks paused to watch.

For Baham, it is all taking place so fast.

By working day, he’s one of individuals rapidly-cycling Jimmy John’s sandwich shipping riders that have develop into component of the downtown landscape. He’s also a BMX bike enthusiast and skatepark devotee.

But just after get the job done, he has become this mad-scorching local artist, creating parts outdoors the kava bar on Franklin and Twiggs streets and sometimes hawking his paintings to downtown enterprises. And they provide — much more than 50 — and he has commissions for additional.

Glen Baham, 27, creates art outside the Kava Culture Kava Bar in downtown Tampa.
Glen Baham, 27, makes artwork exterior the Kava Tradition Kava Bar in downtown Tampa. [ ARIELLE BADER | Special to the Times ]

“He’s a younger kid that came in the store with his artwork, and I thought it looked awesome,” said Sharon Casaccia Kyte, owner and optician at the upscale Building Eyes Optical Boutique a couple blocks away. She acquired a modest a single that complemented her store’s shiny hues and agreed to screen a number of much more, which her buyers purchased. She finished up with four herself.

The smaller sized pieces— 16×20 — go lately for $80 to $90. He’s gotten $450 for more substantial works, but hasn’t sold his greater kinds but, priced at $900, dollars he would place toward studio space.

“The universe has been very good,” Baham said.

The road to getting to be an of-the-moment street artist, having said that, has not often run sleek. There have been cautionary tales.

Elevated by his grandparents in a community north of downtown and nicknamed Tank, Baham said his desire was to be a BMX rider in the Olympics. But he often cherished art.

“I was just a kid in substantial college that copied youngsters that did graffiti,” he reported.

He went to Hillsborough Higher, D.W. Waters Career Acceleration Academy, then trade university. For a time, he was functioning but homeless and sleeping in his truck, although not numerous people realized it.

When he was 25, he was caught applying coloured markers to graffiti “Tank” and smiley faces on a wall in the vicinity of the Riverwalk. He was arrested and billed with misdemeanor felony mischief.

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“I went to jail for it,” he reported. “The graffiti, that was my preference.”

They retained him there various times. Fellow inmates with a lot more significant fees gave him suggestions: “They were being like: ‘Stop drawing on partitions. You can get out of jail. We cannot,’” he said. He labored off his community support hours and paid out his service fees, and the state dropped the scenario.

“No a lot more spray portray,” he explained. “I just touch canvases now.”

Glen Baham says his art is strictly on canvas these days.
Glen Baham says his art is strictly on canvas these times. [ ARIELLE BADER | Special to the Times ]

A person night last thirty day period, he was mugged by two males downtown as he was walking to the bus prevent. He went to the clinic for staples in his scalp. Somehow, he explained, the encounter appeared to make his art far better.

What transpired with his artwork was serendipitous. Following doorway to the occupied Jimmy John’s is Kava Lifestyle, a funky espresso property-style institution that holds neighborhood meet up with-ups such as an open up mic night time and team meditation. Two years back on art night time, Baham took a tiny canvas and commenced painting.

That’s a great painting, an individual mentioned. “And I thought, ‘Maybe I should preserve going if men and women like my colours,’” he mentioned.

He would occur in when it wasn’t artwork night and talk to for a canvas, reported Kava Lifestyle supervisor Matthew Clark. “He just began portray and we were like, ‘Oh my god, this male can paint,’” he stated. “The top quality he was in a position to deliver was just thoughts-blowing.”

His Jimmy John’s recommendations started out likely towards artwork supplies. At an celebration wherever persons sold jewellery and did magic tricks, Kava Culture gave him a table. “I was just out there marketing artwork for revenue,” he explained.

“Within two yrs, I went from zero to a hundred so rapid,” he reported.

His paintings, shown within the kava bar, typically consist of a a few-stage graffiti-fashion crown in homage to the late New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, a famed street artwork pioneer. Some of Baham’s items include portraits finished by his mate and fellow artist, Chase DiBrizzi.

A new piece involved whimsical WiFi symbols on an summary qualifications. Another showcased a metropolis skyline with oranges and pinks — his favorite, he mentioned, “because it looks like downtown when it receives toward nighttime.”

Gary Yamnitz, a retired credit score union supervisor, has two. “A good friend came in (my home) and explained, ‘Is that Glen’s?’” he stated.

Glen Baham’s work hangs on the walls of of Kava Culture Kava Bar in downtown Tampa.
Glen Baham’s perform hangs on the walls of of Kava Society Kava Bar in downtown Tampa.
[ ARIELLE BADER | Special to the Times ]

Baham’s persona appears to mesh with the road art gig. At 6-foot-5, he’s usually stooping to hug an individual. “He’s just an easygoing dude, usually seeking to converse to anybody,” Clark mentioned.

On that Friday afternoon, Antonio Ross, who is effective for the Section of Defense and was in town from Atlanta, took a liking to the still-drying piece Baham experienced just finished — more than enough to make the $150 invest in. “A wonderful do the job of artwork,” he termed it.

“And to see someone out below accomplishing something constructive, you aid them,” he mentioned.

He questioned Baham if he would include his thumbprint when he additional his signature to the portray. Was this in scenario Baham received well-known a person day?

“He’s famous now,” claimed Ross, nodding to the men and women watching him get the job done.

“My target is to travel the earth, provide my artwork,” Baham explained. “And journey each and every skate park in the world.”

Kenneth Proto

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