Shaun Thurston’s mural, Earth Gods, covering the side of the building that houses Burro Bar and Chomp Chomp on East Adams St., Jacksonville FL.
One of Jacksonville’s most prominent muralists shows us mankind’s relationship with the world around us.
The conceptual strength of Shaun Thurston work flexes its muscles in this full-wall painting just off Adams Street in downtown Jacksonville. It’s about perspective; it’s about realizing that humans are not in full control of this world; it’s about helping us get out of our way, to live in unison with the rest of the world.
View of Earth Gods from Adams Street. Iconic buildings of Jacksonville’s skyline can be seen in view of the painting.
Created in 2013 and situated in the nightlife district downtown The Elbow, this piece garners some attention. It’s an open wall in a parking lot just around the corner and on the same building as Cal Ogleby’s The Holy Spirit in E Minor. But unlike Ogleby’s, Earth Gods faces away from the nightlife district, though it benefits from a greater background and setting.
Look past the mural, around it, in front of it. There’s open sky, the historical Lynch Building (11 E. Forsyth after the renovations by Vestcor), and nothing to impair your view when the parking lot is empty.
From a walk down Adams St., the Wells Fargo Center/Independent Life building is in view with the painting too. This is arguably Jacksonville’s most recognized building, evident in major photos and logos featuring the Bold City.
The compelling aspect of Earth Gods is the metaphor of the characters on the wall. You’re left with a renewed perspective of the world around you, forcing you to rethink the your relationship with the earth and its inhabitants.
The visually dominant character in the scene is the larger than life frog, arms extended with anthropomorphic cupped hands. On its back is vegetation – trees, grasses, rocks – creating symbols for the flaura and fauna of the earth. In its cupped hands, a pool of water; on the water is a boat; in the boat is a man.
The frog is holding mankind in his hands, but the man is kicking back.
Detail of Earth Gods; Animal hold man, man fishes animal.
The man is fishing, and the line is headed back to into the frog’s mouth completing the relationship.
Thurston is showing us how the vegetation and animals of the world are supporting humans, yet we are bating it and taking advantage of that support. This painting is perpetuating the age-old discussion of protecting the earth by showing you the relationship in a public, very beautiful way.