The princess of the palace Beatrice was in poor condition.
She could be one of Norfolk’s most iconic mermaid statues, perched near the intersection of Llewellyn and 21st Street. But after 21 years of rain, snow and heat, pieces of Beatrice’s blue-green painted tail, brown skin and fiberglass body chipped and worn. Vivian Davis, an artist in residence at the Art Center in downtown Norfolk, was commissioned to rehabilitate it.
“She’s getting a makeover,” Davis said.
Beatrice is one of more than 100 original mermaids created during the city’s “Mermaids in Parade” public art installation in 2000. Artists adorned the fiberglass mermaids in their signature style and business owners bought the creations.
Mixed media and fiber artist Deborah Small, whose work evokes African and Native American heritage, spent 100 hours painting and beautifying Beatrice, The Virginian-Pilot reported in April 2000. When completed, Beatrice sported blues, reds and yellows as well as jewelry, crown and fabric elements.
Decorum Furniture, which houses The Palace Shops and Station in Ghent, bought the mermaid.
The company called on the Art Center to breathe new life into Béatrice. The owners of Decorum caught up with Davis at d’Art to talk about design and spotted a work on display by Nancy Topping Bazin.
Bazin’s whimsical and brightly colored styling was exactly what they wanted in their mermaid, Davis said.
“I told Nancy. She was completely flattered, ”Davis said. “So I said I would always credit you as their inspiration. “
Davis started working on Beatrice in October and wants to finish before Christmas. She chronicles the process through time lapse videos and photos on her social media pages, instagram.com/tutoringart and facebook.com/tutoringart.
The first phase – removing the paint and repairing the damaged fiberglass – is complete. After Davis has applied a base coat of paint, she will begin drawing. Then Beatrice will be glazed with a marine grade varnish because “we know how the weather is here,” said Davis.
The design vision has a “Key West Miami vibe” – an elegant pattern and a bold palette.
For Davis, the project is the fulfillment of an artistic aspiration she has had since moving to Norfolk at the end of 2019.
“I like mermaids. When I first moved I was excited because Norfolk’s mascot is the mermaid, ”said Davis. “I could see a lot of them needed work, and I said, ‘Who knows, maybe I’ll get a chance to work on one, or maybe I can create one at at some point. “”
Ali Sullivan, 757-677-1974, [email protected]