NewsPinellas County


Clearwater woman turns storm drains into works of art during pandemic

painting on storm drains
Posted at 2:46 PM, Mar 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-01 16:06:42-05

CLEARWATER, Fla. — From flamingos to sea turtles to dolphins, Marion Rowe is turning boring old storm drains into exciting new adventures.

“I told myself when I retire I’m going to get back into painting and then this came along,” said Rowe, who lives in the Del Oro Groves Estates section of Clearwater.

It was the city that started the program. They provide the materials, but it’s up to the residents to volunteer their time and talent.

“It really came out of the idea of wanting neighbors to be able to activate the community they live in and grow the sense of pride,” said Jordan Morang, Neighborhoods Coordinator with the City of Clearwater.

Marion got so involved she drove around with a dozen paint cans in the back of her car. So far, she has painted 26 storm drains.

“It just started to grow, because as neighbors walked by it was making them happy and in this year of this pandemic it was great,” said Rowe.

“It’s like walking through a museum and being able to enjoy all this fabulous art and you’re still safe because you’re outside,” said neighbor Amanda.

Every drain has a clever message regarding an important issue, “Only rain down the drain.”

“Any paper bag, any trash bag, that does flow through our drains goes directly into our gulf,” said Morang.

“It makes sense to make something beautiful so people won’t throw trash down something beautiful,” said neighbor Evaline.

The drains have become so popular Rowe is even taking requests. She’s averaging a new mural every week.

“They say, ‘oh can you put a hummingbird, or a mermaid on mine, or a shark,'” said Rowe.

Her personal favorite is "The Creature from the Black Lagoon," which just happens to be outside James Bronson’s house.

“That thing draws a lot of attention, it’s getting to the point where traffic is building up in front of my driveway, blocking my driveway,” said Bronson.

Someone who has lived here for 30 years, Marion has no plans of slowing down, there are plenty of drains to go and the imagination in this community is endless.

“And I get to meet more of my neighbors and it really brings a lot of joy to many of them,” said Rowe.

Morang said in total they've had residents paint more than 80 storm drains city-wide. Before any of them are painted, the resident does need to get approval from the city regarding the design and location.