By Gaige Davila
As of this past week, a five-foot sea turtle will greet your visit to South Padre Island’s Multimodal Facility.
The sea turtle sculpture, painted by Christina Salazar, is the second of seven sea turtle sculptures for the city of South Padre Island’s Sea Turtle Art Trail. These seven sculptures are the first “hatching” of sea turtle sculptures planned to exist throughout the Island. Salazar’s sculpture uses blue zentangle designs in indigo and pink,
“Zentangle is a new way of drawing patterns that relax and challenge the eye,” Salazar said in a press release from the city. “The colors were inspired by the ocean, and the base incorporated barnacles.”
Salazar’s sculpture is now on display at the South Padre Island’s Multimodal Facility, near the front entrance, at 321 Padre Blvd.
The other five fiberglass sculptures, all of which are five feet tall and weigh around 205 pounds, will be displayed at Sea Turtle Inc., Art Business Incubator SPI, the South Padre Island Chamber of Commerce building, the South Padre Island Community Center and the South Padre Island Convention Center.
Matthew Lee, marketing and communications specialist for the city’s Convention & Visitors Bureau, told the PRESS the city will unveil one turtle sculpture a week on Tuesdays for the next 6 to 8 weeks. Once all the turtles have “hatched” by September, the city will release the Sea Turtle Art Trail map, Lee said.
The Sea Turtle Art Trail may run throughout South Padre Island in a few years time, after the city gave the project a “blanket approval” on August 11. Now South Padre Island business owners can have sea turtle sculptures inside their businesses without further approval from the city.
During a Development Standards Review meeting, South Padre Island Special Events Manager Marisa Amaya said they will email businesses throughout the Island, asking if they would like a sea turtle sculpture in their business. This fall, the city will have another call for artists to add more sea turtle sculptures in the spring. Subsequent “hatchings” will include 4 to 6 sea turtle sculptures, Amaya said.
“We see these turtles as giving our visitors and residents alike a beautiful way to share their appreciation for their real-life counterparts,” said Ed Caum, the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau Director, in a press release. “It also allows us to celebrate the tremendous creativity of local artists throughout the Island and the Rio Grande Valley.”
This first “hatching” of sea turtle sculptures cost between $15,000 and $20,000, Amaya said during the meeting. In 2019, the city called for artist submissions of sea turtle sculptures after a city council approval, selecting their artists and hosting a meet-and-greet this past November, where artists showed miniature versions of their eventual sculptures.
The first sculpture on the Sea Turtle Art Trail was created by Andy Hancock: a hand-carved mesquite sea turtle displayed in front of Sea Ranch Restaurant.
The six artists are Andy Hancock, Ariel Powell King, Beth Fedigan, Cecilia Garza, Chelsea Fedigan and Salazar.
Editor’s note: The print version of this story mistakenly classified Salazar’s sculpture as the first of the Sea Turtle Art Trail. Andy Hancock’s sculpture was the first. Salazar’s sculpture also was misnamed in the print edition. The sculpture does not currently have a name. The PRESS regrets these errors.
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