Rapa Nui Reef rendering as it was supposed to land

Underwater Art – both real and imagined – has been in overdrive lately, with the opening of interactive art installation “The Pool” by Jen Lewin in downtown West Palm Beach; some Neptune-inspired art; and now the biggest, splashiest ocean art project was launched, make that sunk, by the very Gods it was depicting.

On June 7th, just a mile off the Deerfield Beach Pier, a man made concrete landscape of Easter Island God head themed statues that weighs 300 tons and is half the length of a football field was supposed to have been slowly sunk on the barge it was attached to and create a magical underwater reef. But something went wrong, the barge listed to one side and then quickly sunk, Poseidon like, upside down, crushing the statues underneath it. The Rapa Nui Reef, named for its native Polynesian inhabitants, was going to make a name for the city the same way hundreds of similar monuments did for Easter Island in the remote South Pacific. Now it’s has except it’s a front page disaster, captured by cameras and incredible drone footage from above that shows how quickly the whole thing went belly up.

After the sinking the head of Dixie Divers, Artilon Pavan said it started as “a controlled sink, that means a small amount of water going in, and slowly taking place. You want to see the deck under water. As soon as the deck be under water complete, is no more flip… I think the tow boat tried to help, the big tow boat, but he made so much wave toward one side, it took more water than supposed to one side… It was a great project… We knew some risk was involved.”

Why big heads? Well Margaret Blume, who funded the project through the Deerfield Beach Women’s Club Blume wanted to do something really big in environmental conservation using art.

“I had a dream,” Blume said. “People will learn about history, become enchanted with the art and be surrounded by nature.”

Undaunted, Blume has admitted being “sad and devastated” by the flipped barge and ruined statues but has now decided to build a new art reef attraction on top of the submerged one. Like the submerged Christ statue in Pennekamp State Park in Key Large, it promises to be a major attraction for divers and snorkelers in a different way now that it was destroyed and will be built again.

She will again use talents of Dennis MacDonald of Pompano Beach, who sculpted the reproductions of the iconic Easter Island heads and has created sculptures for theme parks, museums and attractions like Margaritaville in Hollywood.

The Pool in downtown WPB designed by artist Jen Lewin

The Pool downtown has been a splashy success with no water involved.  Designed by artist Jen Lewin and presented by the city of West Palm Beach Art in Public Places (AIPP) Program, this concentric, temporary interactive art installment is comprised of giant, neon color-packed concentric circles where the public has been welcome to hop, skip, run, jump and play while making art out of lights. The installation has been fascinating and enthralling thousands having been featured in more than 30 major installations worldwide including Japan and Europe. By entering The Pool, art adventurers enter a world where play and collaborative movement create psychedelic swirling lights and rainbow infused color. As more users enter and play in The Pool, their interactions become mesmerizing patterns of shifting and pulsing colors, it’s up through July 4th.

Merman by Charles Falarara

More undersea themed art has been shown lately from artists such as South Florida’s Charles Falarara, whose incredibly detailed and imaginative Mermen and Merwomen sculptures take many months to complete and use various glazes, finishes and even gold leaf to achieve their unusual immaculate look. The figures have realistic but fantastic conch shells on top of them, their legs meld into flippers, fins and octopus tentacles. Coral sprouts off their arms and spines turn into fins.

It’s a realized fantasy world for an artist who has worked for famous designers and apprenticed under acclaimed interior artist/architect Jeremiah Goodman in NY. He excels in faux wall finishes and murals, but has been captured by the King Neptune spirit the last few years, making his sea creatures one immaculate scale at a time.
There is a wondrous object at Nicole Henry Fine Art by artist Kai of a very expensive designer Louis Vuitton bag encased in colored layers of resin and stenciled with the words LOST VALUES to resemble an unattainable world of money and status, frozen in a watery plastic grave.

Kai is a native Angeleno artist who studied at the prestigious California Institute of the Arts, the leading school in contemporary art, and L’ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. Kai is recognized for his ability to convey a powerful message through multiple mediums. He has been featured on covers of newspapers and magazines worldwide in recognition of his work. The Lost Values bag is part of a larger series that comments on social ambiguities.

Submerged Sounds

Underwater Music Festival
Underwater Music Festival

One more marvelous undersea adventure is coming up in July. The marine life that inhabits the Florida Keys’ living coral reef is widely acclaimed for its color and variety, but it usually doesn’t include wildly costumed mermaids or musicians dressed like crabs and lobsters playing instruments unless it’s during the annual Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival.
The 2015 underwater action is scheduled to kick off Friday night July 10 with music and seafood fun at 6 p.m.; then 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 11, at Looe Key Reef, an area of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary 6 miles south of Big Pine Key. Staged by Keys radio station WWUS 104.1 FM, the unique festival draws hundreds of divers and snorkelers each year to enjoy the sound of music in the ocean realm.

The 29th annual submerged songfest is to be themed “Salute to the Rolling Stone Crabs,” in offbeat recognition of the current tour by the Rolling Stones’ on their 50-year anniversary. Costumed divers portraying band members “Mick Jawfish,” “Keith Pilchard” and their cohorts are to “perform” takeoffs of Stones hits such as “Jumping Jack Fish” and “HonkyConch Woman” beneath the waves.

Sandra-Schulman Sandra Schulman is an arts writer, music and film producer. Born in Miami, her work has appeared in Billboard, Variety, Rolling Stone, Ocean Drive, Country Music Magazine, The New York Daily News, News From Indian Country, and Entertainment Weekly. She was an entertainment columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel for 8 years. She has authored three books on pop culture. She currently lives in West Palm Beach with her blue eyed whippet. Sandra Schulman’s column appears weekly. Contact her at sandraslink@gmail.com.

This article has been about Underwater Art in Overdrive with the Interactive Art Installation: The Pool by Jen Lewin and Other Art Inspired Events in Nearby Cities of South Florida