SANTA ROSA BEACH – The Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA) and South Walton Artificial Reef Association (SWARA) recently revealed the 12 sculpture designs selected by jury for permanent exhibition in the second installation of the Underwater Museum of Art (UMA).

The 2019 installation will include the following sculpture: Buttery by Alys Beach Construction (Alys Beach), To Refresh With Water by Beatriz Chachamovits (Sao Paolo, Brazil), Saguaro by Ghazal Ghazo (Tucson, Arizona), Aspiration by Shohini Ghosh (Highlands Ranch, CO), Flamingle by Rachel Herring (Santa Rosa Beach), Wave! by Benjamin Mefford (Wilsonville, Oregon), I Found It! by Ingram Ober and Marisol Rendon (San Diego, California), Love Thyself by Maxine Orange (Destin), Let’s Not Blow This by Kevin Reilly (Montgomery, Alabama), El Plastico by George Sabra (Georgetown, Texas), Depth of Decision by Gianna Stewart (Dorchester, Massachusetts), and X.Muta by Vince Tatum (Santa Rosa Beach).

Recently named by TIME Magazine as one of 100 “World’s Greatest Places,” the UMA is presented as part of CAA’s Art In Public Spaces Program and augments SWARA’s mission of creating marine habitat and expanding fishery populations while providing enhanced creative, cultural, economic and educational opportunities for the benefit, education and enjoyment of residents, students and visitors in South Walton.

With support from the Alys Foundation, Visit South Walton, Visit Florida, and the State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, UMA will be deployed with SWARA’s existing USACOA and FDEP permitted artificial reef project that includes nine near shore reefs located within one nautical mile of the shore in approximately 50-60 feet of water. The 2019 installation will join the seven sculptures deployed last June on a one-acre permit patch of seabed off Grayton Beach State Park, expanding the nation’s first permanent underwater museum.

Deployment of the 2019 UMA installation is slated for summer.


BUTTERY, will be a 12-foot replica of one of Alys Beach's iconic butteries, which flank the town’s Hwy. 30A entrances, anchoring the town while welcoming its visitors. Buttery will be fabricated by the Alys Beach construction team and sponsored by The Alys Foundation.

TO REFRESH WITH WATER is a design by Brazilian artist and marine researcher Beatriz Chachamovits. This sculptural piece approaches the theme of ocean degradation through the concept of coral bleaching. The artwork depicts a cluster of different species of Florida’s corals (elk horn, staghorn, brain and fire) and sponges (tube, vase and barrel) bleached, infused with forms of plastic waste that will be covered through time by new and healthy corals, so that its original white form disappears completely. Primarily modeled out of clay in a 3D printer, to be cast out in clean white cement, with no other additional material, this piece is a hope spot for transformation and awareness.

WAVE! Is a creation of American artist Benjamin Mefford. The sculpture, a larger-than-life hand, will be constructed to facilitate coral growth utilizing Kansas fencepost limestone columns to create the bulk of the sculpture. These repurposed columns are relics from early settlers who split each block using rudimentary techniques.

George Sabra’s EL PLASTICO replicates a plastic bottle on a massive scale constructed of environmentally cast concrete. This representation of something that generally harms marine life can instead play a direct role in helping it flourish.

SAGUARO by Arizona-based artist Ghazal Ghazi is an 8-foot tall stainless steel sculpture of a cactus designed to promote thriving marine life. The saguaro cactus is a unique, famous, and distinct cactus that only grows in the Sonoran Desert, which extends into southern Arizona and the city of Tucson. The artist believes having a sculpture of a saguaro cactus on the bottom of the ocean floor will offer a unique juxtaposition carrying multiple layers of interpretation

DEPTH OF DECISION by Boston-based artist Gianna Stewart is a gesture for the ocean, a sunken series of decisions. Nuances to the cast concrete doors will be visible during its preview on land, and various openings in its structure and doors will serve as artificial reef for marine life. One door is just slightly ajar, another wide open.

Husband and wife team, design duo, and dive buddies Ingram Ober and Marisol Rendon will co-create I FOUND IT! The sculpture will consist of elements relating to a lost pirate treasure. The central element will be a 6-7 foot tall diamond ring consisting of a cast concrete band and a jewel fabricated with a stainless steel rod structure covered on the inside with expanded metal lath and covered in “Clean Concrete” to create a hollow volumetric diamond.

LET’S NOT BLOW THIS is a creation by American designer Kevin Reilly. This piece represents the earth as a fragile dandelion. The hand represents man’s potential to restore and protect our environment. Underwater Museum divers will also be able to visit Kevin’s 2018 installation, JYC’s Dream, homage to the “Aqualung,” arguably Jacques Cousteau’s greatest invention.

LOVE THYSELF is a collaborative project between Artist/Designer Maxine Orange, Concept Designer Maurice Hunter, and Concrete Work Fabricator Rick Goetchius with mold creation from Digital Atelier LLC. The theme is rooted in the concept of self-love. The team will create a sculpture of a woman appearing to stand in appreciation of her reflection in front of a mirror to visually represent an image of connecting with the power, love, creativity, and beauty within one's self and will even include an inspirational written message, "Love Thyself".

Florida-based artist Rachel Herring will construct an underwater FLAMINGLE. “Flamingos symbolize fun, relaxation, and socializing -- perfect description for this creation,” Herring said. “The sculpture upholds my whimsical and playful art theme, and the shape of the columns along with the outlines of the flamingos will remain recognizable as growth occurs on the sculpture,” she said. Herring is also the creator of the 2018 UMA sculpture, The Grayt Pineapple.

ASPIRATION designer Shohini Gosh is a Denver-based artist originally from New Delhi, India. Aspiration is a silhouette of a young girl’s face looking up in the longing at the wonders of the future. The sculpture has a beautiful balance of negative and positive space through and around which fish and turtles may swim without hindrance and on which corals can grow.

Artist Vince Tatum will pay homage to one of Mother Nature’s most amazing creations found on coral reefs, The Giant Barrel Sponge (Xestospongia muta) with his sculpture, X.MUTA. “My goal is to imitate Mother Nature’s blueprint as best I can, but with clean sprayed cement over rebar. I’ll leave the cement in its organic blown state, to mimic the ebbs and flows of the surface of a sponge, and to give X.muta the properties that make the Giant Barrel Sponge such an attractive and accommodating host to marine life,” Tatum said. While visiting X.muta, underwater museum of art divers can also check out Tatum’s SWARA Skull which was part of the 2018 UMA installation.