Photo courtesy of facebook.com/creativecansinthesand
COCOA BEACH, Fla. — “There’s nothing worse than showing potential homebuyers our beautiful beaches and finding them littered with trash,” says Bobby Freeman, team leader of the McCoy-Freeman Group with RE/MAX Elite Realty in Cocoa Beach and a member of the Space Coast Association of Realtors®.
“We’re trying to sell the town and our beach is our biggest asset,” he says. In fact, he adds that he’s worked with several international buyers who specifically comment on the cleanliness of the beaches.
That’s why he and wife Nikki, also a Realtor®, founded non-profit Creative Cans in the Sand, a program where local artists paint scenes and art on the trash cans found on the beach.
“Our hope is that seeing these beautiful cans on the beach will draw attention to how important it is to keep our beaches clean,” says Bobby, who is a graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota.
Bobby, whose father, Bob Freeman, is a local surfing legend, adds: “Being art lovers and artists ourselves, we decided that a great way to bring positive attention to beach cleanliness – and to garner media attention for Space Coast beaches – was to challenge our very talented area artists to paint the cans with beautiful and compelling designs.”
“We both have a love of art,” says Nikki, who came up with the idea while surfing the web one day and seeing a painted trash can. “We posted it on a private Facebook page called ‘Wake Up Cocoa Beach’ and everyone loved it,” she says.
In fact, they got a boost when world-renowned nature artist Guy Harvey shared the photo with his Facebook followers, and it was shared more than 2,000 times. “We then decided to paint our own can,” says Bobby.
Realizing they had a great idea, the duo set out to get city commissioners behind the project. While they supported the idea, the city was already shifting to graffiti-proof garbage cans, making it nearly impossible to paint them.
So it was back to the drawing board for the couple. The Freemans decided to take it to the county.
“We were driving around Lori Wilson Park when we saw that they were using the blue round cans that are easier to paint,” Bobby recalls. “It’s a huge park, so there will be about 36 cans total once we are finished.”
The county commission loved their idea. Now, the Freemans are raising money by having local businesses and schools sponsor the cans.
Among others, “Cocoa Beach High School, Ron Jon Surf Shop and the Endless Summer Foundation have all sponsored cans,” Bobby says. Local artists have volunteered to paint the cans. They currently have 10 cans in production.
“A local animal hospital is sponsoring five cans,” adds Nikki.
As for Guy Harvey, the Freemans have been working with him, and he recently announced he would be donating artwork for six Creative Cans in the Sand! Also, California-based artist Steve Barton has agreed to donate a wrap of his artwork as a design for one of the unique trash cans.
As Bobby says, “We want to bring awareness to people about the importance of our beaches and our environment, and we’re doing it in a very local and creative way.”
Want to know more about Creative Cans in the Sand? Check out the Freemans’ Facebook page on the project at: facebook.com/creativecansinthesand