Ukraine Mural Project & Community Concert

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DateMay 5, 2022 @ 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Time05:00 pm - 08:00 pm

Location 10091 McGregor Blvd.
Fort Myers, FL 33919 United States


Event details

Murals by local artists Erik Schlake and Roland Ruocco that have stood in front of the Alliance for the Arts for the last month has been vandalized. The 4×8 foot murals depicting Zelenskyy — one against a backdrop of a Ukrainian flag — can be seen by traffic passing on busy McGregor Boulevard.

The response is to not only restore the damaged murals, but commission 20 more with your help to show support of the Ukrainian refugee crisis as well as raise awareness about the role that arts and humanities play in our communities and lives.

The project will cumulate in a big reveal, community concert event on Thursday, May 5 from 5 – 8 p.m. at the Alliance for the Arts. The night features music by Karibbean Grooves and an interactive community live paint mural. The event is free to attend, but a suggested $10 donation supports and sustains the future of the arts in Southwest Florida.

If you are interested in supporting this project or the community concert, please follow the links below:

Mural Artists:

Doug Steward

Danilo Rubias
Union Artist Studios collaboration
Allie Schlake
Deb Lawless
David Acevedo
Julia Da Rocha
JP Almonacid
Cloud Kent
Israel Alpizar
Eric Riemenschneider
Erik Schlake
Roland Ruocco
Ian Summers
Zan Lombardo
Deb Zwetsch
Sanaa Bezzaz


Featured Mural Artists & Statements :

“Our world has always been encased in some sort of war somewhere. Happenings during my teen years were devastating. But… I and most of my friends and family did not comprehend the magnitude. Today, I do understand and feel an immense need to help support the people and the country of Ukraine. Being asked to take part in a Union Artist Cooperative mural calls upon my folk art figurative creativity to enhance and embellish the beautiful peacock. This magnificent power animal symbolizes honor, integrity, respect, re-growth, rejuvenation, and the importance of facing life’s challenges. Our friend Alex M. is doing just that for his people.” – Alex Wilkinson


“It was always so beautiful where I grew up, flowers, sunshine, and warm hugs from mommy…..that is until those men came with their tanks and guns and…explosions! We don’t have a house anymore and daddy has gone to fight, mom cries a lot and I am lost…” – Roland Ruocco, Ukraine Graffiti Mural


“When Roland and I began this project, it was far from political. For me, I felt like history was unfolding before our eyes. I saw the journey of President Zalinskky from comedian to President as one that has repeated itself throughout history. Nelson Mandela in South Africa was jailed as a communist traitor, Bobby Sands in Northern Ireland was jailed on gun charges and Lech Walesa in Poland was an electrician. All these men come from complex backgrounds and yet were able to propel human rights forward. History isn’t made by the perfect. It’s made by imperfect human beings who find ways to step up and step into roles they were unprepared for. And we all have that ability inside us. The statement I was intending to make was “Pay attention, this is history in the making, and we all have the ability to step up. Don’t let people fool you into thinking only the perfect can make a difference. So far throughout human history it’s only been the imperfect” – Erik Schlake


“Now ten weeks into this war of Russian aggression, the reality of destroyed, abandoned cities, displaced populations, and thousands of dead people sinks in the stench of this new normal doggedly clings and now resides deep within the soul is begging a question. What will be the future of our beloved homeland now?” – Roland Ruocco Zelensky Mural 2


“I have been painting conjured faces most of my life. I started in kindergarten showing expressions, showcasing the full range of human feelings. However, this project was a huge challenge. In the process of creating these faces I somehow felt their intense pain and also a sense of humanity oozing from their souls.”  –Ian Summers


“After hearing several stories of children losing their families, this really spoke to me. The scars of this war will last for generations.We are bystanders, watching the horror unfold, knowing this will  forever leave scars on the people of Ukraine. We have similar scars, some from 20 years ago. What has helped us heal was not only our resilience, but the support we received from around the world. We have an opportunity to pay that forward. I don’t want to be a bystander in this. I want a voice, and to stand up and help.” – Deb Lawless


“As a father and a grandfather that has lived through the cold war, the assassinations of the ’60s, the Vietnam war, and every police action- special military operation; I’m appalled, disgusted, and revolted. Those that think interventions involving the slaughtered innocent are justifiable using words and actions to convince your tribe that the “others” must either be taught a lesson, jailed, tortured or killed is not what I consider a humane trait. During the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, we have all witnessed some of the best of humanity. Unfortunately, some of the worst of human behaviors. Of all the images I’ve seen, the hardest one has been this image of a bloody, well-loved, stuffed toy at a targeted train station. The missile that delivered the bomblets that caused this carnage had a message on the side that reads “For the Children” in Russian. What could be going through the minds of those that sent this missile…” – Doug Steward, For the Children


“The Motherland is Ukraine” – this piece is about connections in the terrestrial and spiritual aspect. It’s a humble representation of a chaotic scenario where the yellow and blue flags stand as symbols of perseverance and love for the country. The figure in the center, representing president Zelensky, is presenter “in negative” effect, yet it is recognizable and still in front and center of the scene. This is done as a way to let the enemies know that regardless on all views, his resilience prevails. The Morherland statue is still a part of the country’s history, yet it’s shield, which depicts the symbol of the Soviet Union, is conquered by the Ukrainian flag. I hope my intentions came through in the piece, while letting some things open to interpretation – which is a common aspect of my work in general.” – David Acevedo


“The consequences of war come in all forms; whether it be long-term psychological effects on generations to come, or mass destruction of cities and beloved homes. This painting takes on the effect war has on the women in Ukraine. Millions of people are having to flee the country, a majority of them being women and children. They leave behind their homes, husbands, and happiness. The women that have stayed in the country are caring for the wounded, supplying food for the soldiers, or even on the frontlines themselves. Evidence proves that sexual violence is used as a weapon of war in Ukraine. Women and young girls are coming forward to state that they have suffered at the hands of Russian troops. They have to live with this trauma for their entire lives. This painting gives the viewer a perspective of the position women have in the war in Ukraine. Pain and tears are what these women embody, and they have no option but to face and live with this terrible war.” – Danilo Rubias, Female Eyes Mural


“Iryna Tsvila was a mother of five with a degree in education and a love of roses from Kyiv, Ukraine. Before serving as a member of the Ukrainian Army’s National Guard Response Brigade, she volunteered during the War at Donbas in 2014. After leaving Donbas, she created a handcrafted jewelry company using plants and epoxy resin. What is my hobby for me now? This is my return. My path to a new self. Why exactly this? Because these are plants, creativity and a way of self-expression, Iryna once said in an interview. Among the many accomplishments of Iryna Tsvila, her business was one that particularly stood out to me as an artist and I wanted to represent in my work. Iryna named her company VERBA Workshop, meaning WILLOW. A very important function of the willow is to recover. Willow can grow, even if it is broken. It will still recover and continue to delight us with its beauty, she said. I read her statement and felt touched, knowing the same could be extended to the country of Ukraine. They can grow, even if broken, and recover, and they have my support. Iryna Tsvila died in battle on February 25, 2022 defending Kyiv against the Russian invasion. I’m honored to be given an opportunity to tell you about Iryna.” – Allie Schlake


“Superheroes and their characters develop during hard times. I think it’s a way for people to cope and create an outlet that has the ability to protect them.  And many superheroes represented the collective of people who fight against injustice. I wanted to create a character that represents those in Ukraine fighting to protect it.” – JP Almonacid


“Prayer and Meditation are powerful tools if practiced through the power of intention. Living in a sacred age of a shifting global consciousness, in my opinion, Ukraine is another chapter into understanding that the old world system is not sustainable. In this piece, I am portraying a woman in Dua prayer for peace, love and understanding. Sacred Geometry is the basic foundation of our existence and within it grows true peace. Center back to source, back to the smallest atom building blocks of consciousness. This is a reminder that the conflict in Syria was rooted as the same conflict in Ukraine. We can unite in prayer and acceptance for a new age that reconnects with the root vibrational atoms of love to flourish peace.” – Israel Alpizar


“A new day of hope will dawn in the land of the Golden Sunflowers “- Wendy White, Golden Sunflowers 


“In my family, my mother is our rock. She is our biggest cheerleader and biggest source of support. I wanted to honor the mothers of Ukraine, who protect their children with their heads held high, allowing their children to feel safe and secure when the outside world is not.” – Cloud Kent


“Bold, Loyal, Beauty, Happiness, and Faithful are all characteristics of what Sunflower has meant to anyone. We are adding a few more words to this list: Peace, Resilience, and Ukraine.” – Julia DaRocha


“The purpose of this painting is to inspire peace. I used elements from nature to represent the colors of the Ukrainian flag and to provide a serene backdrop. The young girl is a symbol of hope for the future. She is grayed out to keep the focus on the colors represented and she is looking at the sunflower in a moment of peace.” –  Eric Riemenschneider


“A woman in traditional Ukrainian clothing, wearing a vinok headdress, prays for peace as doves with olive branches hover overhead. She petitions Olga of Kiyiv, saint of both defiance and vengeance, for help. The Ukrainian flag curves behind her, creating a grotto of safety against the crimes of an unjust war. This is what we have to offer as artists on the altar of peace.” – Zan Lombardo and Deb Zwetsch