The flute-playing Russian mermaid statue at Soter Point in Ventura, California was donated by Alec & Tatyana Benke to the city of Ventura in 2009, and placed at Soter Point in collaboration with Samuel Povar and Andy Soter. map
Alec Benke and his wife Tatyana emigrated from Kazakhstan to the United States and the mermaid statue is a symbol of their love for their new country.
The statue stands on a base created by Alec. With the base, the sculpture reaches more than 20 feet into the air. The mermaid sculpture is meant to be a water fountain, but there is as of 2012 no water yet - although it is planned.
Soter Point is part of the Ventura harbor area, and Andy Soter dedicated time and funds to renovating and beautifying this area in memory of his daughter.
Samuel Povar has been actively involved in a number of public-private art collaborations in Ventura, and was instrumental in making this project possible.
The mermaid statue at Soter Point is rapidly becoming a major attraction for tourists and also gaining fame as an example of public-private collaboration in beautifying a city.
The plaque at the base of the sculpture reads:
The Mermaid of Soter Point
A Public and Private Collaboration
This stunning landmark overlooking the Ventura Harbor
represents a trailblazing cooperative effort to beautify our
community through private citizens working with public agencies.
Andy Soter developed and landscaped the area in memory of his
daughter Andrea, a successful and much admired investment
manager. The mermaid sculpture and its foundation were donated
by Russian emigrants Alec and Tatyana Benke, as an expression of
love for their new country, America. Samuel Povar created the first
collaboration of this nature in 2007 as a tribute to his late wife
Orianna and worked tirelessly to make this Marina Park project
a reality. And, the Ventura City Council and the Coastal Commission
gave their enthusiastic blessing. Now Povar, Soter, and Benke,
all Ventura residents, hope to inspire others to use private capital
along with public cooperation and support...to envision
something beautiful and make it happen.
I sat upon a promontory,
And heard a mermaid, on a dolphin's back,
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,
That the rude sea grew civil at her song;
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres,
To hear the sea-maid's music.
- William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream
In July 2017 Alec Benke donated and installed a second mermaid on the opposite side of the harbor entrance, less than 600 ft from the first mermaid. This mermaid plays a 'cello' which is really a large fish, and she uses another fish as the 'cello bow'. map
Many thanks to Samuel Povar for details on this project, and to Sunny Oberto for many stunning photos.
● The Mermaids of Earth coffee-table book: See page 112 in the book about this sculpture.