CCA seeking proposals for underwater sculptures

Special to the Walton Sun/USA TODAY NETWORK
Dawn Dancers by Shohini Ghosh is a sculpture of two seahorses doing a dance. Seahorses are a flagship species, charismatic symbols of the coral reefs, estuaries and seaweed coastlines. Dawn Dancers is among sculptures that make up the Underwater Museum of Art off the coast of Grayton Beach State Park.

SANTA ROSA BEACH — The Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA), in partnership with the South Walton Artificial Reef Association (SWARA), join two of South Walton's most cherished resources, the arts and the Gulf of Mexico, with the Underwater Museum of Art (UMA).

Named by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 “World’s Greatest Places,” the UMA is the first and only permanent underwater sculpture museum in the United States.

Artists are invited to submit proposals for the fourth art installation to be deployed next summer. The UMA is less than a mile off the coast of Grayton Beach State Park.

The UMA has been featured in online and print publications including National Geographic, Lonely Planet, Travel & Leisure, Newsweek, The New York Times, and more.

As part of the CAA’s Art In Public Spaces program, the UMA also augments SWARA's mission of creating marine habitat and expanding fishery populations while providing enhanced cultural, economic and educational opportunities for the benefit, education, and enjoyment of Walton County residents, including students and visitors.

The project is supported by Visit South Walton, the National Endowment for the Arts, Visit Florida, The Alys Foundation and the Florida Department of State Division of Arts and Culture.

This opportunity is open to artists and artist teams. While a demonstrated history of collaboration completing large- and small-scale public art projects is preferred, all artist applications will be considered.

Following the application deadline, the CAA will convene a panel of arts and marine environment specialists to review the applications and select proposals for completion and installation.

The selected artists will be commissioned to develop design proposals and create a 3D piece of original artwork to be permanently installed in the Underwater Museum of Art. Each artist will receive a $6,500 stipend inclusive of design fees, materials, labor, fabrication, construction, packing materials, shipping and transportation.

Once selections are made, artists will be notified and have approximately five months to complete and deliver work to Walton County, where the completed sculptures will be exhibited on land before being taken to Walter Marine in Orange Beach, Alabama, to be attached to custom pedestals. Sculptures will then be taken by barge to the Gulf and carefully submerged about 60 feet to the floor of the Gulf.

The UMA is produced in conjunction with SWARA’s existing USACOE and FDEP permitted artificial reef project that includes nine nearshore reefs located within one nautical mile of the shore.

The first phase of the UMA project included seven pieces of sculpture installed in June 2018, with the second phase of 10 sculptures deployed in June 2019. The third phase of eight sculptures, which was postponed due to the pandemic, was deployed in February 2021 to bring the total number of sculptures to 25.

Artists may learn more about the project, see photos and video of the previous installations and submit online proposals through Nov. 25 at UMAFL.org. Interested artists must be registered with Submittable, where the artist call and details are posted.

For project sponsorship information, visit UMAFL.org.