If you’ve visited Wilton Drive lately, you may have noticed a bit more color than usual. Claudia Castillo, a local artist and founder of Claudia Castillo ART Studio, in Wilton Manors, has been working on painting the parking meters along the drive at the request of the City & Wilton Drive Improvement District (WDID).
Claudia has impressively turned the old boring, dull parking meters into true works of art with a vibrant, colorful design.
Claudia Castillo was born in Colombia and went to school at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogota. She completed additional art studies at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, the Finishing School, NY, and the National University of Colombia.
She says that her deep appreciation of the great masters led her through a personal journey to study their works. Her art has been exhibited both nationally and internationally in Italy and Spain. Claudia is passionate about helping her community. She serves on various boards and non-profit organizations with the aim of expanding culture, art, and diversity.
Although Claudia has her own art studio, where she exhibits her own art as well as gives opportunities to other artists, she remains very involved in a number of public art displays in Wilton Manors.
Claudia previously worked with late Mayor Justin Flippen to help plan and supervise the painting of the Rainbow Bridge, a landmark that was designed to be an icon for the city to celebrate its diversity and inclusivity. She also designed the Rainbow Manatee that was installed in Justin Flippen Park in honor of Mayor Flippen.
Claudia is also the artist behind the “be PROUD” mural written in the colors of the rainbow at Wilton Discount Liquor across from City Hall, which she did in collaboration with the Island City Art Advisory Committee, Meghan Pearson, and Matthew Dreger.
Claudia says she always felt that there was something that needed to be done about the parking meter located in front of her studio. She explains that she “would constantly hear from the public a lot of complaints about how ugly and unsightly they were.”
After coming up with the idea to paint the meter with bright and bold colors to express happiness, she requested permission from the city. Claudia’s request was granted and the new, brightly colored meter was a welcome attraction by both tourists and residents, many of whom even stopped to take photos with the meter.
More and more people began to ask if she would paint the rest of the meters, so she requested permission from the city once again and the WDID decided to support Claudia in painting all of the meters on the drive.
Claudia quickly set out on her mission to paint all of the parking meters on the drive to serve as branding and enhance businesses. According to Claudia, she designed them with the colors to be bold, bright, and with the intent of bringing happiness and joy to the community.
Each meter is painted with the same colors but in a different order. Claudia explains: “By painting each meter with the same set of colors but in a different order for each one, they became individual works of art that serve as a branding for the WDID and a city icon highlighting the facades of the businesses and bringing attention for passers-by.”
While Claudia was painting the meters, she was often stopped by people who wanted to thank her for her artwork. Business owners even offered her water and a place to rest. It’s safe to say that the colorful parking meters have been warmly welcomed by residents, tourists, and businesses alike.
2021 marks Claudia’s gallery’s 5th year anniversary of providing ‘art on the drive.’ She has recently exhibited her work in Venice, Milan, Zurich, and Plaza de Majorca and will be traveling to Barcelona for an exhibit in November.
She is currently working with the City of Wilton Manors and the commissioners on the annual Justin Flippen Manatee Decorating contest – an event where students of Wilton Manors Elementary School paint a manatee and celebrate their mascot, Mack the Manatee. Claudia explains that “local businesses contribute cash and gift card donations that go to the school winners and participants and to the school.” This is the fourth year she and Ron Falk, her colleague, have continued this event after Mayor Flippen’s passing. Last year, the event raised over $10,000 in in-kind contributions.
Don’t just read about Claudia though, because words don’t do her artwork justice. Check out her work for yourself. Claudia Castillo ART Studio is located at 2215 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors, Florida. Be sure to keep an eye out for the parking meters as you drive by!
Cassidy Webb is a Texas native and South Florida transplant. She grew up just outside of Dallas, TX, and moved to South Florida four years ago. She now considers Fort Lauderdale her home.
Cassidy is the project manager at a small digital marketing company and she enjoys freelance writing on the side. In her free time, you can catch her exploring local parks or taking long walks through the neighborhood with her dog, Bella.