Mermaids are set to re-inhabit downtown San Marcos this fall. As per the city’s Arts Commission, ten greatly anticipated mermaid statues will be erected this summer for locals and visitors to see.
Standing at eight feet tall each, the colorful statues will be scattered throughout San Marcos as eye-catching landmarks and a testament to the city’s history with marine life and environmentalism.
The fish-tailed maidens have been the city’s mascots dating back to the early ‘50s when it was home to the beloved theme park, Aquarena Springs.
The City of San Marcos sent out a request for artists in December 2016 to submit designs for the mermaid statues. Based on the submitted designs, the San Marcos Arts Commission chose ten artists to bring the city’s vision to fruition.
Every artist is local to Central Texas, with eight calling San Marcos home. Though the citizens of San Marcos continue to wait in anticipation for the final reveal, the sculptors have been sharing progress on their mermaids with one another through an exclusive Facebook group.
A goal of the San Marcos Arts Commission is to promote local history through public art projects. Lisa Morris, recreation programs manager, hopes the statues will invoke a conversation about the city’s past.
“It’s going to be a great juxtaposition of old-time San Marcos and contemporary art,” Morris said.
Doug Hiser, artist and author, said each statue will be entirely unique just like the artists themselves. The mermaids will be completely unique from one another, but will all be located downtown in undisclosed spots.
“One artist has done the entire thing in glass mosaic. Another one is going to be black but when you touch it, the colors underneath the black will show up in your handprint for a few seconds,” Hiser said.
Hiser’s skyscraper of a mermaid will be detailed with over 30 different species of local fish. He drew inspiration from his love for nature and Central Texas wildlife.
Part human, part sea creature, the mermaid is a symbol of bipartisanship between wildlife and the human inhabitants of San Marcos.
Maria Russo, founder of Sirenalia, said she believes a mermaid is the perfect mascot for San Marcos, as the city is known for its great waters.
“There’s just something about mermaids that lends itself well to environmental activism,” Russo said. “We have all of this precious water that’s really important for us to protect and care about, and I think the mermaid is a perfect mascot for that.”
Jamie Lynn Shelton, San Marcos artist, said her mermaid piece pays homage to the indigenous wildlife which inhabits the San Marcos River.
“That’s what the mermaid is to me, a combination of humanity and nature, and reminding us that we are a part of nature,” Shelton said.
The exact date for which the statues will be completed and revealed is still unknown. However, Shelton said the mermaids should be up before September. If Shelton’s estimate is correct, the statues should be visible for the second annual Mermaid Festival occurring Sept. 16.