The Starbucks mural painted by Gillian Fazio includes oranges and an alligator. “Looking back, every move I made has helped guide me to where I am now doing what I love for a living,” Fazio said. (Dianne Radic/WUFT News)

Muralist transforms Gainesville Starbucks wall

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Complete with huge, juicy oranges, meandering butterflies and a splash of bright colors, the new Starbucks mural has touched not just the walls, but the hearts of the Gainesville community.

“I think this piece not only makes me feel a wave of positivity but also alludes to a lot of what the state of Florida and the city of Gainesville has in regard to wildlife,” 21-year-old Starbucks customer Shyam Patel said. “Through looking at this artwork, I can tell the artist has a true passion for what they do.”

Muralist Gillian Fazio, 27, has turned her artistic inspirations into her business. She returned to Gainesville in February to create a piece that makes anyone feel at home in the Starbucks at 3524 SW Archer Rd.

Though Fazio is a Lakeland-based artist, she has strong ties to Gainesville and her alma mater, the University of Florida. In 2017, she received her bachelor’s degree in fine art with a concentration in painting.

“I will always have a soft spot for this town,” Fazio said. “I am honored to be able to create a piece that feels specific and unique to a place I lived in for four years as a small token of gratitude for all the wonderful memories I have had there.”

Fazio’s artistic journey started as soon as she could hold a paintbrush. During elementary and middle school, she was enrolled at the Rochelle School of the Arts in Lakeland, which has a heavy focus on art-related subjects.

“I didn’t always know I wanted to be specifically a muralist,” she said. “However, with each step forward in my studies of art, I seem to have created my very own pathway.”

Gillian Fazio prepares paints to work on her latest mural. Photo Courtesy of Gillian Fazio.

Following her graduation from the University of Florida, Fazio embarked on a career as a mural artist. Her path has led her to create her business GFazioArt, which she promotes through various social media platforms. Her Instagram, TikTok and Facebook pages have accumulated more than 32,000 followers in total.

“I have found it’s crucial to put yourself out there, post it and let your quality of work speak for itself,” Fazio said.

She films and edits transformation videos on TikTok of her creating her murals, and she posts video blogs to talk about her artistic process and show how she spends her days as a muralist.

“Visibility with large national chains and brands wouldn’t be possible without sharing my body of work and portfolio of murals,” Fazio said.

Her murals draw in clients from local and international companies, national organizations and individual commissioners.

When Fazio came up with the idea for her recent mural in collaboration with the Starbucks team, the main priority was to create a piece that felt like art belonging solely to Gainesville and the city’s character.

Ryan Galinas, 21, enjoyed a cup of coffee next to the mural on a recent Wednesday. He said the art makes him feel happy, warm and welcome.

“The warm color palette paired with the wide range of native Florida wildlife and plant life symbolized to me the true harmony of life,” he said, “and it demonstrates the importance of diversity both in nature and in life.”

A significant part of the mural is the butterflies that symbolize transformation and the circle of life. Fazio’s incorporation of butterflies in her work has been a tradition of hers since her senior year of college.

“As wherever there is change, there is room for growth,” Fazio said. “I always will paint butterflies in honor of my loved ones I have lost and ancestors watching over me on my journey.”

Shayna Townsend, a 22-year-old Starbucks customer, felt a strong pull to Fazio’s art because of her own spiritual connection with butterflies. When Townsend’s grandmother was in the hospital during her final days, butterflies would flutter past her window all day long.

“Her last few moments, which was days before my birthday, she told me every time I see a butterfly it is her sending her love and keeping an eye on me,” Townsend said.

The mural offers Townsend hope and a reminder to stay grounded. Whenever she sees butterflies, she feels a warm embrace from her late grandmother and knows that, in time, things will always work out.

Through her life’s work, Fazio has turned her ambitions into her livelihood and has been able to travel all around the country painting murals. Her art can be found in Florida, Alabama and Virginia. She hopes to use her art to establish an ideal space where nature and culture are symbiotically balanced and appreciated outside of a realistic landscape.

“This is my hustle, fervor and grind as a working artist, to which I am truly dedicated,” Fazio said in an Instagram post.

About Dianne Radic

Dianne is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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