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Public art project receives Tarpon OK

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TARPON SPRINGS — After receiving official approval from commissioners last month, Tarpon Springs will be a participant in a worldwide art project.

The Tarpon Springs Public Art Committee’s first temporary art installation project will bring a bronze AMA mermaid statue to be placed in Craig Park.

The sculpture will be constructed by French artist Amaryllis Batailleas as part of her Amaryllis Art for Charity program. The project’s goal is to place AMA mermaid statues all over the world, with each one uniquely made and customized for its location.

According to the project’s website, Mermaids OfTheEarth.com, Ama is the Japanese word for the “Ladies of the Sea,” who are famous for diving and collecting pearls.

The city is working with German art, school and office supply company Koh-I-Noor GmbH to facilitate the securing of the statue by the city, its transportation and its stay in Tarpon Springs.

Each statue is named AMA, followed by the location where it is designed to stand.

The Tarpon Springs mermaid will join the scheduled AMA San Antonio statue as the only two American-approved pieces. The only other in North America stands in Mexico: AMA de Sanoviv, just south of Tijuana.

AMA Tarpon Springs will reside in Craig Park, near where the waters of Whitcomb and Spring bayous meet, for a three-year period. The statue may be purchased by the city through donations by an individual or business, or auctioned, within the installation and display period.

According to a press release from the art committee, the concept was presented locally because of “the beauty of the city’s close proximity to the gulf and bayou waters, the mythical ties between mermaids, manatees and Greek culture, and the city’s ability to draw national and international visitors.”

As described by the contractual agreement between the city and Koh-I-Noor, the sculpture is to stand 6 feet 4 inches tall and weigh 360 pounds. A “special bronze element” at the statue’s feet, determined by the city, will reflect the history of Tarpon Springs.

At the December city commission meeting where the project was approved, City Manager Mark LeCouris praised the efforts and resiliency of the Public Art Committee.

“This is a very hard-working, dedicated group and I want to thank them publicly for all they do for the community and public art.”

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