For months, Gulfport artist Ray Domingo has been planning his creation: a giant green gecko sculpture he hopes to place near the Gulfport Casino ballroom.
Last March, the city council unanimously approved Domingo’s plans and committed $16,000 for the construction of the sculpture and the installation of a cement plinth. The statue will stand to the right of the Casino entrance, facing Gulfport Beach.
A skateboarding lizard
Domingo is known in Gulfport for his hyper-realistic animal and sea paintings. Although he has never worked on a sculpture of this size before, he is optimistic.
“This is my first sculpture on this scale and not the last,” said Domingo. “I hope people love it so much that they can’t wait to lay their eyes on another Domingo sculpture.”
He decided to create his gecko to add a photo shoot to the downtown area of his town.
“It just occurred to me: Gulfport doesn’t have a good photoshoot spot,” Domingo said.
Domingo’s idea for a photoshoot is a 14-foot green lizard on an 8-foot-long skateboard, gliding past a lamppost while listening to music through big headphones.
The street lamp ? Glow in the dark. Helmet? A speaker playing music from Gulfport and Gulfport adjacent musicians. The pedestal of the sculpture will read “Welcome to Gulfport”.
It already has a roster of artists to stream their music from the gecko’s headphones, which will conceal speakers. Plans include music from TC Carr, John Prine and Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson, who is open about his second role as a musician.
“Sam was the first to give me a CD of his music,” laughed Domingo.
As he immerses himself in a new art form, Domingo receives guidance from a Tampa Bay-based 3D sculpting company, Grand Theming Studios.
“They’ve done a lot of work for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,” Domingo said.
Build the Gecko
Although the City has committed $16,000 and the installation of the pedestal, the undertaking of giant lizard sculptures does not come cheap. According to Domingo, the project requires an additional $20,000.
Domingo calls the fundraising effort “Build the Gecko” and is accepting donations to The Beach Bazaar, Gulfport Realty, and The Domingo Studio.
If all goes well, Domingo and the City will unveil the green giant at – where else? – GeckoFest, which traditionally takes place on the Saturday before Labor Day.
“The goal is to unveil the statue at GeckoFest this summer,” said Justin Shea, Events Supervisor of Cultural Facilities for the City of Gulfport.
“Once it’s there,” Domingo said, “show up with your smiles.”
The gecko does not yet have a name, but the artist is currently considering the future identity of his scaly creation.
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