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The history behind Publix murals

While on a trip to California, Publix founder George Jenkins drove past a building decorated with a colorful mural. When Jenkins saw the mural, he thought it would be the perfect touch for one of his stores.

He contacted the California artist John Garth and asked him to create a similar mosaic mural for a new Publix being built in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Garth designed a scene depicting the foods of the world. It featured a golden-haired goddess holding a bounty of produce, and Garth’s daughter was the model.

Garth brought the sorted and numbered tiles to Florida, and a team installed the pieces on-site.

When the store opened on Aug. 29, 1961, it featured the first mosaic mural in Florida, one of only two in the country. Garth would return to Florida in 1964 to install two more tile mosaic murals on Lakeland and Winter Haven stores.

In the mid-1970s, Florida artist Pat Mills was commissioned to create more murals for Publix. The first of her creations featured colorful fruits and vegetables flowing from a horn of plenty.

Later, she began researching each city to incorporate local themes into the designs. From landscapes to city history, each mural reflected the individual personality of each community. During her 20 years beautifying Publix stores, she created more than 200 pieces of art.

Over the years, many of these murals were lost as stores were replaced or rebuilt to make way for new buildings. About 21 remain at stores in Ft. Myers, Jacksonville, Miramar, Orlando, Seffner and other cities.

In 2018, John Garth’s original Ft. Lauderdale mural was re-created by artist Tom Pritzen for the Polk County Tax Collector’s office in Lakeland, Florida.

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Asset Description Download Link
Publix Mural History Download*
Publix cornucopia mural Download*
John Garth working on mural Download*
Palm Beach mural by Patti Mills Download*
Publix mural Download*
Re-creation of original mural unveiled by Mr. George’s grandson and son-in-law Download*