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Manatees hit the mall

The sculptures will eventually be auctioned off to benefit manatee protection.

By TRACY SMALL
Published April 22, 2005


Four brightly colored manatees arrived at Westfield Shoppingtown Brandon this week.

The fiberglass sea cows are part of a series of manatees being displayed in the Westfield Shoppingtown malls in Brandon, Citrus Park and Clearwater.

The malls are joining forces with the nonprofit Outdoor Arts Foundation to raise money for manatee protection.

About 15 manatees were unveiled for public viewing a few weeks ago in the Citrus Park mall. Roughly 30 or so manatees, painted by an assortment of artists, will be on display in the three malls through July. Then they'll be strategically placed throughout the Tampa Bay area in locations such as libraries, Ruth Eckerd Hall and Tampa International Airport.

They'll be auctioned off next year, with proceeds going to the Outdoor Arts Foundation and several manatee conservation organizations.

"It's cool how Westfield is taking art out of the galleries and exposing the public to local artistic development," said Jay Goulde, executive director of the arts foundation.

Upcoming activities include a "paint your own manatee day," a coloring contest, and speakers on manatee conservation.

"We want this project to be as widespread as possible to benefit the plight of the manatee," Goulde said.

The organization most recently auctioned painted chairs for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, raising $30,000. And Goulde has partnered with the Humane Society to raise $50,000 with creatively designed doghouses.

He also was behind the painted fiberglass turtles that popped up all over the Tampa Bay area a few years ago. More than 100 artists painted and decorated 6-foot-long fiberglass creations for the Tour of Turtles, a 2001 project that raised more than $250,000 for 68 nonprofit groups.

The fiberglass manatee sculptures are from the Resource Factory in Sarasota and come in two different poses: swimming or standing. The standing manatee is 61/2 feet high and 4 feet wide. The swimming manatee is 6 feet long and 31/2 feet wide. Both are modeled after the West Indian manatee.

Staff writer Meaghan Forbes contributed to this report. For information on the Outdoor Arts Foundation, contact Jay Goulde at 727 723-8620 or visit www.outdoorartsfoundation.com on the Web.

[Last modified April 21, 2005, 08:33:10]


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