World-renowned artist completes mural outside Peg Leg Pete's in Pensacola Beach

·4 min read

Internationally recognized artist Rod "Rodman" Leisure has set his roots down in Pensacola and is hoping a recent mural at Peg Leg Pete’s will be his big debut into the local art scene.

Leisure has become somewhat of a familiar face around Pensacola by participating in events such as the annual Let's Chalk About It! festival and creating art using the wide-open canvas that is Graffiti Bridge.

The idea for Leisure's latest project, a 32-by-9-foot pirate-centric mural, appropriately named "Shiver Me Timbers," was born after an idea came to him when first seeing the restaurant's outdoor seating area a few months prior.

What better way to lean into the rustic features of the wooden deck and Gulf view than to create a pirate’s battle scene, even tying in multi-dimensional artwork on the ceiling and sides to bring the story to life?

Having creative freedom has become exceedingly important to Leisure over the years. Peg Leg Pete’s owners Scott and Kristin Amberson were supportive from the get-go, Leisure said, even when all he had to offer them at first was a rough, pen-and-paper sketch about the size of the palm of his hand.

"Is it going to be in color?" Leisure said he remembers being asked skeptically.

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Artist Rod Leisure talks Wednesday about his art and his inspiration for his recently completed mural at Peg Leg Pete's on Pensacola Beach.
Artist Rod Leisure talks Wednesday about his art and his inspiration for his recently completed mural at Peg Leg Pete's on Pensacola Beach.

From that point on, he said, the Peg Leg Pete's staff were always quick to ensure he had a coffee or tea in hand as he spent somewhere between 120 to 150 hours out on the deck.

"The whole thing was basically done in my head," Leisure said.

Leisure said inspiration always has led the way for any project he has signed onto, more than any monetary incentive. He made his living as a pipefitter originally from north of Indianapolis, Indiana, but art was always a passion he held onto and a skill he continued to sharpen even when it was only a hobby.

Artist Rod Leisure's initial quick pitch for a mural called "Shiver Me Timbers" at Peg Leg Pete's was far from elaborate, but he was still given the green light to bring the vision to life.
Artist Rod Leisure's initial quick pitch for a mural called "Shiver Me Timbers" at Peg Leg Pete's was far from elaborate, but he was still given the green light to bring the vision to life.

Now retired from pipefitting, Leisure said he has the luxury of being able to pick and choose the projects he agrees to. The first question he always starts with when approached to create is, “how much fun are we going to have?”

If he feels he is not the right person for the job, he will simply pass on the offer, then refer someone else.

His art has taken him all over the world for three weeks at a time to complete various projects.

Artist Rod Leisure recently completed this mural at Peg Leg Pete's on Pensacola Beach.
Artist Rod Leisure recently completed this mural at Peg Leg Pete's on Pensacola Beach.

"I have been on all these cool little unique art adventures that are frankly cool as hell," Leisure said.

Pensacola, however, seems to be a long-term stop. Leisure was house-sitting for a friend here and fell in love with the area and the art scene.

Leisure has established himself in a completely different line of art. He focuses more on the scratchboard, where he has been recognized as a "master" by the International Society of Scratchboard Artists, a status only about two dozen others in the world posses. However, using the mural as a medium provides him with the opportunity to lean into a more fantastical way of creating.

Leisure said it is difficult to describe the style he used to create "Shiver Me Timbers" since the pieces are cartoonish in nature, but still require significant precision to get the details just right.

Artist Rod Leisure talks Wednesday about his recently completed mural at Peg Leg Pete's on Pensacola Beach.
Artist Rod Leisure talks Wednesday about his recently completed mural at Peg Leg Pete's on Pensacola Beach.

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He said he knew being located at a restaurant, people will typically spend an hour or two staring at it, so every last component mattered.

Leisure included some of the most iconic landmarks of the area in the painting, including the Pensacola Beach water tower, osprey birds and of course, the pirate flags stationed outside of Peg Leg Pete’s. For those who look close enough, he said, there is one picture in the mural that is out of a place, but references a piece of Gulf Breeze folklore.

"I almost always hide things in fine art," he said.

Leisure said he hopes the mural will be a Pensacola landmark for "a great number of years" to come.

This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Peg Leg Pete's latest mural the work of Rod 'Rodman' Leisure

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