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Lorelai introduced to her new home in Hernando Beach

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Whenever he is asked to pinpoint the exact location of his real estate office at Hernando Beach, Tom Dishman, co-owner of Weaver Group Realty, with his wife Tammy, he always offers the same response. “Watch for the mermaid!” he says with a smile.

Indeed, Dishman’s office at 3436 Shoal Line Blvd. is fronted by the artistic representation of a mermaid’s grotto. A golden-haired, sparkly-finned siren statue sits tall and proud on a painted pedestal. She’s posed beside a vibrant stone-encased mural that depicts the majesty of a Florida sun rising high in a jewel blue sky, just above a dazzling aquiline wonderland brimming with stately manatees, vividly patterned fish and a rainbow-hued spectrum of florals and coral.

Yet, another mural fronts Weaver’s entrance as well; this one boasts the artistic representation of an adorable sea turtle swimming through a circle formed by the words, “Hernando Beach, Weeki Wachee, FL, Nature Coast.”

This trio of artistic masterworks is the creation of Spring Hill Artist Karen Governale and stands as an ornamental representation of the blossoming Hernando Beach arts scene.

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Weaver Realty is a host of the Hernando Beach Front Porch Art Walk, conducted the first Saturday of each month from 10 am to 2 pm. Sponsored by the Hernando County Fine Arts Council and the Coastal Hernando Business Group, this is a dynamic, open-air event in which artists show and sell their wares on the properties of host businesses that include Weaver, the Silver Dolphin Restaurant, Brian’s Place, and Beverly’s Coastal Interiors, all located along Shoal Line Boulevard.

The next Front Porch Art Walk will take place on May 6, and aside from a vast selection of art, the walk will feature food, fudge, and ice cream for sale, plus raffles for gift cards, art and other prizes, and children’s art activities.

“Our first Saturday’s Front Porch Art Walk has grown. We’ve had as many as 32 artists, and now that snowbirds are returning back to the north, we still have about 25. Silver Dolphin, Brian’s, and Weaver Group have had artists displaying at their locations… We’ve had some fabulous artists, and some have been selling $500 pieces.”

Tom Dishman is pleased to introduce Weaver Realty Group to the Front Porch Art Walk movement. He revealed, “My wife and I love art, and when Diane mentioned the idea of the Front Porch Art Walk, our hands were up to participate. This is a great way to support local businesses and bring art to the neighborhood. This is an art show where people walk up and down and enjoy what they see.”

The Dishmans’ love of art also inspired them to procure a mermaid statue in the Destination Mermaids – The Tail Trail project, co-sponsored by Florida’s Adventure Coast Visitors Bureau, Brooksville Main Street, and the Hernando County Fine Arts Council. A colorful coterie of life-sized mermaid statues lines The Tail Trail, launched to mark the 75th Anniversary of Weeki Wachee Springs.

The first phase of the Tail Trail consists of 25 life-sized mermaids on display throughout Hernando County at the local businesses and agencies that have agreed to sponsor and display these 80-pound statues, standing 6’8″ tall and 32” in diameter and 54″ across. “When we first bought Weaver Realty Group in November, we decided that we wanted to see art here every day,” said Tom Dishman. “We are so excited by the look and color of the mermaid. She looks so real and shimmers in the sunlight.”

Governale did indeed intend the mermaid statue known as Lorelai to be a work of vivid color and lush tropical design. “This is my first statue, and–while I originally wanted to think outside the box and come up with a design that didn’t have to do with the ocean–I decided to go with a tropical, colorful design,” she said.

From her long golden hair to her glittery pink tail and even her teal-hued fingernails, Lorelai does indeed boast the classic look of a mermaid. Her name even draws from the annals of classic mermaid lore.

“I Googled mermaid names and came across Lorelai,” said Governale. “It’s funny, my mom told me that she had considered naming me Lorelai.”

Governale, who has been an artist since childhood and specializes in media that ranges from murals to pet portraits, found it a particular challenge to sometimes assume uncomfortable positions in order to paint a full-scale statue and to apply enamel paints. Yet she is greatly pleased with the public response to her Mermaid Trail statue. “I especially love how children run up to Lorelai and just stare,” said this mother of three. “And the Dishmans were so pleased with the results, they asked me to paint two murals at Weaver.”

These four-by-six murals are meant to complete the tropical theme of the Weaver Group Realty art display, providing Lorelai with her own home at sea. “This artwork reflects the look and feel of Hernando Beach, of Weeki Wachee,” said Tom Dishman. “People stop to take pictures with Lorelai, and folks visit here as they complete the Tail Trail.”

“Our art is meant to embrace the artsy feel of this community,” he said. “We embrace the feel.”

Interested artists and business people who wish to participate in the Front Porch Art Walk can contact Diane Greenwell at [email protected] or (304) 633-7110.

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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