A look at the “Weeki Wachee Wonders” art project.

Celebrating a landmark 75th anniversary this year, the natural and recreational mecca known as Weeki Wachee Springs has provided abundant artistic inspiration for a host of visual artists, photographers, novelists, poets and filmmakers. Now Weeki Wachee Springs has also inspired the fall mobile mural project.

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

“In honor of Weeki Wachee State Park’s 75th anniversary, we encourage artists to reflect on what the ‘Wonders of Weeki Wachee’ mean to them!” said Jessica Knutilla, Mobile Mural Program Project Coordinator and Fine Arts Council Member Hernando County. “We hope to receive submissions depicting days on the river, turquoise springs, kayaking and paddleboarding, gentle manatees, otters and other river creatures, marsh lilies, elephant ears and other tropical Weeki Wachee plants and maybe a few mermaid murals ! What makes Weeki Wachee so adorable?’

According to information found on the Brooksville Main Street website, the Seminole Indians gave the name Weeki Wachee, which translates to “little spring” or “meandering river.” “The deep spring and incredible river are home to wondrous water 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 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 tribute to your favorite mermaid or paint a picture of your childhood memories in the park, we can’t wait to see your designs!”

Brooksville Main Street Executive Director Natalie Kahler is excited to bring Weeki Wachee Wonders to the Hernando art scene. She stated, “Brooksville Main Street can’t wait to bring our next set of murals downtown as we all celebrate our unique Weeki Wachee Springs. Of course we have mermaids, but for generations participants have been enjoying all the charms of our natural springs and the Persian Gulf. We are excited to see what the artists will conceptualize for this celebration.”

Artists will be paid $12 per square foot for the accepted mural, which can be 5′ x 15′, 6′ x 10′ and 5′ x 7′. Artists are required to use professional outdoor acrylic paint and will need to set up a table or tent at the Murals in the Park meet and greet event. Artists can paint live or demonstrate in their space. Artists can also sell artwork during this event and display advertising materials for free. The tarps will not be returned to the artist and will be auctioned off to raise money for Brooksville Main Street.

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

Artists must submit a portfolio and a description of their planned projects. Sketches/digital mockups as well as rough design sketches are recommended but not required. The design should be family friendly. Nudity or images of drug use will not be accepted. The deadline for submissions to the Fall Weeki Wachee Wonders Mobile Mural Project will be July 25th. Those who have questions, please send an email [email protected] or visit the Brooksville Main Street website.

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

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

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