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HomeArtA look into the "Weeki Wachee Wonders" art project

A look into the “Weeki Wachee Wonders” art project

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Celebrating a milestone 75th anniversary this year, the natural and recreational mecca known as Weeki Wachee Springs has provided ample artistic inspiration for numerous visual artists, photographers, novelists, poets and filmmakers. Now, Weeki Wachee Springs has inspired the Fall Mobile Mural Project as well.

“Weeki Wachee Wonders” is the theme of the 5th series in the Mobile Mural Project, a conjoined Brooksville Main Street and the Hernando County Arts Council project. This project aims to enhance the value of downtown Brooksville, promote quality artwork, cause viewer interaction, provoke thought, entertain, and excite visitors through the work of public art. This particular round of mobile murals will play a vital role in Brooksville Main Street’s inaugural Multicultural Festival, scheduled for Oct. 8, done in partnership with Hernando Hispanic Heritage.

“In celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Weeki Wachee State Park, we encourage artists to think about what ‘Weeki Wachee Wonders’ means to them!” said Jessica Knutila, project coordinator of the Mobile Mural Program and council member of the Hernando County Fine Arts Council. “We hope to get submissions depicting river days, turquoise springs, kayaking and paddleboarding, gentle manatees, otters and other river creatures, swamp lilies, elephant ears and other tropical plants on the Weeki Wachee, and maybe a few mermaid murals! What makes the Weeki Wachee so enchanting?”

According to information found on the Brooksville Main Street website, the Seminole Indians bestowed the name Weeki Wachee, which translates to mean “Little Spring” or “Winding River.” “The deep spring and incredible river are home to wondrous aquatic creatures and as we all know… Mermaids!” read the Call to Artists statement. “We invite artists to join us in paying tribute to the impact that Weeki Wachee State Park has had on our community over the years. Whether you choose to use the unforgettable turquoise color scheme of the springs, pay homage to your favorite mermaid, or paint a photo from your childhood memories at the park, we cannot wait to see your designs!”

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Executive Director of Brooksville Main Street Natalie Kahler is excited to bring Weeki Wachee Wonders to the Hernando arts scene. She states, “Brooksville Main Street is eager to bring our next set of murals to downtown as we all celebrate our unique Weeki Wachee Springs. Of course we’ve got mermaids, but for generations, participants have enjoyed all the delights of our natural springs and the Gulf. We excitedly anticipate what the artists will conceptualize for this celebration.”

Artists will be paid $12 per square foot for the accepted mural, which could be sized 5’ x 15’, 6’ x 10’, and 5’ x7’. Artists are required to use professional-grade outdoor acrylic paint, and will be required to set up a table or tent at the Murals in the Park event for a meet-and-greet. Artists may live paint or demo at their space. Artists are also able to sell artwork during this event and display promotional materials at no cost. The tarps will not be returned to the artist and will be auctioned off to raise money for Brooksville Main Street.

This project holds special meaning for Knutila. “The crystal clear waters of the springs are nostalgic for a lot of us who grew up here. Riding the water slides and floating on the river with the manatees were my favorite things to do as a child,” she reflected. “One of my most treasured memories on the river is seeing my first swamp lily with my mom. I had never seen such a unique flower! Now I see them almost every time I’m on the river.”

Artists are required to submit a portfolio and description of their planned designs. Sketches/digital mock-ups are recommended, as are rough sketches of the design, but they are not requirements. Designs must be family-friendly. Nudity or depictions of drug use will not be accepted. The deadline for artist submissions in the “Weeki Wachee Wonders” Fall Mobile Mural project will be July 25. Those with questions, please email jessi[email protected] or visit Brooksville Main Street’s website.

Manager of Tourism Development for Florida’s Adventure Coast, Brooksville-Weeki Wachee Tammy J. Heon stated, “I love the mural program in general; it’s such a glorious way to showcase the extraordinary talent in our community, and really brightens up our downtown. I love walking around town and seeing all the artwork on display; it makes every day feel festive.”

Heon is also a particular fan of mermaid art. “I’m particularly thrilled with the glorious mermaids focus of the next round of murals; the entire community is excited to celebrate the anniversary of Weeki Wachee Springs, this is one more example of the love being shown to our iconic Mermaids and the rich history they have in our community.”

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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