What is it about Hernando Beach, Florida that stirs an artist’s soul?
Is it the scenic Gulf of Mexico coastline, stunning sunsets or boundless nature of Weekiwachee Preserve? Is it the timeless allure of mermaids? Crystalline waterways sheltering gentle manatees? Or, is it the shimmering underwater realm where dolphins, sea turtles, starfish and finned creatures dwell?
Luckily, some artist residents have generously shared their talent as beautiful public displays.
Look around Hernando Beach for outdoor décor in vivid colors, media and shapes. Discover stories told in wall murals, structural transformations and scenes viewable when cruising by on the water. All are perfect for selfies.
Roadway intersections, building exteriors, a walk-in ice machine, houses and seawalls are some of the many viewable canvases.
The intersection of busy Commercial Way and Osowaw Boulevard, beside the Hernando Beach sign, marks the start of the coastal art tour. There you can see three leaping dolphins known locally as Larry, Curly and Moe. Created exclusively for his home community by the late artist Ken Edwards, the dolphin fountain was his final work.
Upon Mr. Edwards’ death, his son Mark Edwards, Richard Maass, Larry Whidden, Bill Briggs, Ron Lemoine and Kevin Jenkins crafted the metal birds and mangroves to embellish the piece and pay homage to their mentor.
A prolific creator, Ken Edwards leaves a legacy of famous sculptures around the county and country, including the eagle at the Glen Lakes Community entrance and sphere in front of Pinebrook Hospital.
The Triangle Park intersection of Osowaw Boulevard and Shoal Line Boulevard serves as a decorative welcome to the Hernando Beach waterfront community. In the landscaped one-acre park, next to the Welcome to Florida’s Adventure Coast sign, sits a bear sculpture known as “Shoaly.” Bordering Shoal Line Boulevard, the 11,206 acre Weekiwachee Preserve is part of adjoining public lands that form the largest remaining black bear corridor along the peninsular Gulf Coast.
Near Shoaly is a large marble monument marking “Hernando Beach, Tarpon Country.” A favorite catch off Florida’s Adventure Coast, tarpon are considered premier game fish. Revered as the Silver King, they can be large and very strong, gleaming as they leap high into the air. Tarpon can only be fished recreationally in Florida and most anglers practice catch and release of these magnificent fish.
Upon entering the small commercial area of Hernando Beach, most murals can be seen along Shoal Line Boulevard. Starting with the Mamo Realty office, check out the scene of the seafloor starring manatees, fish and coral. The artist is unknown.
Local favorite eatery, Brian’s Place, boasts a portrait of owner and chef Brian Alvarez with his father. The doorway painting by artists Steve Krou and Diane Liptak reveals Chef Brian in a pose he’s famous for: presenting a fresh-from-the-Gulf catch. Take a selfie and tag @BriansPlace when you post on social media.
(Above: Door #4 Hernando Beach Fire Department)
Hernando County Fire Rescue Station 6 is home to four magnificent murals. Each of four fire truck-size garage doors features a scene found nowhere else. To welcome the new fire rescue department to the community in 2017, artists Diane Liptak, Steve Krou and Dan Garrett collaborated to craft four visual stories for all to see.
Door #1 is a sunset as viewed from Hernando Beach. The scene is a pair of Adirondack-style chairs in a perfect spot to view the sun descending over the Gulf.
Door #2 Tells the story of an April 2017 lightning strike that started a fire in the Weekiwachee Preserve. Named the Water Tower Fire, it burned thousands of acres throughout the Preserve.
Door #3 Reveals a natural vista of sprawling saltmarsh and sunshine slicing through low clouds. A bald eagle swooping to grab a fish out of the water dominates the foreground. Around Hernando Beach, there are a number of nesting bald eagles that can frequently be spotted in their natural habitat.
Door #4 A mermaid is the centerpiece of this underwater scene. Iconic to Florida’s Adventure Coast thanks to nearby Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, the performing world-famous mermaids have been enchanting visitors for over 70 years. Surrounding her in the scene are underwater friends native to our waters such as green sea turtles, manatees, different species of fish and seagrass.
One of many distinctive works by artist Steve Benevidis, the Silver Dolphin restaurant welcomes guests outside to a realistic underwater scene of sea turtles and dolphins. Inside is a Pine Island sunset wall mural. In addition to a great choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner, the Silver Dolphin Restaurant & Country Store also features many of Steve Benevidis’ works for sale. In the Silver Dolphin Gallery, browse shelves and walls filled with paintings and artistically transformed palm fronds, horseshoe crab shells, kayak paddles and more.
In fact, artist Steve Benevidis’ talent is evident throughout his Hernando Beach hometown. He has adorned many unexpected surfaces with vibrant colors and imaginative interpretations of the world around him.
Boaters on the water and backyard guests at The Captain’s House, a unique vacation rental in Hernando Beach, enjoy the painted heron oil drum table base, pelican electrical box cover and above ground water tower painted as a channel marker.
A waterfront restaurant location formerly known as PK’s Shipwreck features a shipwreck painting and extensive underwater imagery by Steve Benevidis. From the exterior kitchen chimney, above and below windows and around the side of the building are coastally creative illustrations featuring mermaids.
From the water, behind Gulf Winds Circle, boaters can view a pod of playful dolphins in bright blue, sunlit waters along a residential seawall.
A waterfront mural also viewable from a boater’s perspective, is another creative collaboration from Steve Krou and Diane Liptak called “Frantastic the Mermaid.” Inspired by a longtime Hernando Beach resident, the mural is a scene of a red-haired mermaid and her underwater friends.
Take some selfies to remember your fun visit to the waterside Tropical Grille at Hernando Beach Marina. Pose in front of the Tropical Grille Ice Building or lounging parrot murals. And take a look across the canal to see the eye-catching sculpture called “John’s Horse.” White with black spots, the unusual horse is wearing an orange sombrero. The paintings and sculpture are by Steve Krou.
Besides paintings and sculptures on public display by talented Hernando Beach artists, the natural coastline of nearby Aripeka is home to world-renown artist Leslie Neumann and former home of the late James Rosenquist.
Leslie’s Inspiration, from her website, “In 1991, I moved from New York City, population 8 million, to Aripeka, a small fishing village of 500 people on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. My home and studio are surrounded by more than 14,000 acres of coastal wilderness. I hear no traffic. Instead, I listen to the fish jump at night, while seeing stars reflected on the water. All of this beauty has inspired and influenced me as an artist. Everyday I’m engaged by the raw, primitive energy of the wetlands, as well as the vast cosmic night sky.”
For Ms. Neumann, Mr. Benevidis, Mr. Krou, Ms. Liptak and countless talented painters, photographers and creative artisans, Hernando Beach on Florida’s Adventure Coast is an inspiring palette and studio. Thanks to their generosity, we enjoy a rich array of art and beauty.