|Mermaid on the rise|
So given this backdrop, it has always amazed me that Norfolk embarked upon a forward thinking branding and marketing campaign that revolved around public art. Mind you, this is the same community where city council members would unilaterally declare some pieces of work as art and others not worthy of the designation simply because they didn't like it or didn't get it. And this is the same city where a painting in a private gallery window had to be removed after a public outcry because a female breast was shown partially bare. (Opponents claimed that such an image would traumatize our children, cause them to ask questions and cause impure thoughts all around--I kid you not). Given all of this the fact that the city embarked upon a branding campaign where mermaids (yes, partially clothed creatures that are half fish and half woman) became the city symbol is particularly noteworthy. But I think it is probably one of the best things the city ever did and I absolutely love it.
The mermaid campaign first appeared fifteen years ago as the city struggled to revitalize itself yet again. Local civic leaders, influenced by Chicago's popular Cows on Parade, suggested that such an effort could help sell Norfolk to tourists, residents and businesses alike. The mermaids paid tribute to Norfolk's long relationship with the sea. One hundred and thirty mermaid forms were cast and artists were commissioned to create these life sized statues which were placed in various locations around the city. Business and community groups were able to "adopt" a mermaid whose design reflected their particular interests. Although the sizes and shapes were uniform their decorations were anything but. From American flags to glitzy gold sequins, from the realistic to the abstract and everything in between, the designs were varied. I personally loved the black and white cow one that for awhile found a home at the end of our street.
|The Pagoda's mermaid|
So if you ever find yourself in Norfolk, be on the lookout for the mermaids. They are everywhere and are perhaps the best thing that happened to this city in a long time.
|The education mermaid at TCC|
|Mermaid in a neighborhood park|
|Mermaid at the federal court house|