Saturday, December 4, 2021

Turtles on the Town!

Tara O’Neill puts finishing touches on “Turtle Dreams.” PHOTOS BY TARA O’NEILL

Tara O’Neill puts finishing touches on “Turtle Dreams.” PHOTOS BY TARA O’NEILL

Tara O’Neill

B11-CBN-10-16-15-28So, how much fun did I have this summer? Loads. Those who read my column in the last issue of Coastal Breeze News will be familiar with my desire for more art in public places. One project that addresses this desire is the upcoming “Turtles on the Town,” and I feel so very fortunate to be a part of it.

“Turtles on the Town” is a community arts project (similar to “Gators Galore” in 2001 and 2003, and “Dolphin Debut” of 2002) that will place 50 loggerhead sea turtle sculptures in various locations throughout Collier County. A public exhibition from November through February will show off the four-square-foot turtle (on roughly two-square-foot bases) ?berglass sculptures after they have been creatively augmented and embellished by area artists.

Individual and corporate sponsors generously ponied up the $5,000 fee necessary to enable the constructing of each turtle and cover operational costs for the project. In return they will have the pleasure of hosting their “foster” turtle until the gala auction scheduled for March 9, 2016 when their final owners will be determined.

The mission of the project is to rally support for the arts, the environment, and charitable giving through an engaging, enchanting actually, community arts project. Funds raised from this endeavor will benefit the United Arts Council of Collier County, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, and the Community Foundation of Collier County. The turtles are modeled



on a bronze sculpture by the late Kathy Spaulding, a longtime supporter of local arts and environmental projects.

It was my pleasure, and a great honor, to work on two very different turtles. One, “Calusa Loggerhead Turtle,” was done in collaboration with Peter Sottong, a highly talented artist and expert on Florida’s ancient Calusa people. There was quite a bit of historical research involved – guess I’ve always liked a little learning in my fun, and I’ve learned a lot!

Our turtle is sponsored by the Marco Island Historical Society and will be installed at the Marco Island Historical Museum in time for their spirited gala “Party Like its 1965!” to be held November 14 at Rose Hall. MIHS has high hopes of keeping the turtle as a permanent installation and has already started fundraising towards this end. I certainly hope they reach their goal as most of the images decorating the turtle came directly from the Cushing dig here on Marco Island.

So, come November, keep your eyes out for amazing turtles as they pop-up around Collier County. You can find more info about the project at and And you can find out more about the Historical Society’s goals at


Tara O’Neill, a lifelong, award-winning, artist has been an area resident since 1967. She holds degrees in Fine Arts and English from the University of South Florida and is currently represented by Blue Mangrove Gallery on Marco Island. Visit her at




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