TARPON SPRINGS — The city’s latest piece of public art made it to town just in time for a perfect debut.
Uniquely crafted for Tarpon Springs, the local public art committee unveiled an AMA Mermaid statue in Craig Park just prior to this month’s fine arts festival.
“We wanted to get her up in time for that and it worked out very well,” said Tarpon Springs Public Art Committee member Lynn Pierson. “We had a great response from people coming through the art festival and a lot of photo ops.”
The 6-foot-4 bronze mermaid now stands at the northwestern end of Craig Park, along the waters of Spring Bayou.
“I think she’s lovely and has an accessible feel to her, in a sense,” Pierson said. “She’s just a welcoming figure and in a perfect location.”
The statue’s presence is part of a larger, international public art initiative launched by French artist Amaryllis Bataille. The sculptor’s Amaryllis Art for Charity program aims to place AMA mermaids all over the world.
Amaryllis became interetsed in mermaids after learning her nickname, Ama, means “woman of the sea” in Japanese, according to her website.
The Tarpon Springs mermaid is the third North American figure, joining those in San Antonio, Texas, and another in western Mexico.
Members of the Tarpon Springs Public Art Committee and other local dignitaries officially unveiled the mermaid during an event on April 9 attended by Amaryllis.
“She’s just a delightful person and really was thrilled to be here and enjoyed Tarpon Springs very much,” Pierson said of the artist.
Art committee members are now working on the creation of an event that will help keep the mermaid in Tarpon Springs for good.
Under the deal with Amaryllis and Koh-i-Noor, the German company that created the foundation for placing the mermaids around the world, the statue will remain in Craig Park for three years. It will be relocated after that, unless purchased or auctioned at a base price of $20,000.
Pierson said a third of the money the statute generates must go to a local charitable organization chosen by the public art committee, and the rest goes to cover the cost of its creation.
“We are anticipating developing a Save the Mermaid campaign because essentially on loan to us for three years,” she said. “We’re trying to create some kind of community event that everyone can be involved with. We’d really like the community to have an ownership in her.”
An idea gaining early traction, Pierson said, is an early spring festivity that incorporates mermaids and the manatees that flock to spring bayou that time of year.
“Part of the symbolism from the artist’s point of view is the environmental message of taking care of our waters,” Pierson said. “That’s certainly very pertinent to Tarpon Springs being the water community that it is and the manatees, as well.”