There stands, at the intersection of Commercial Way and Osowaw Boulevard, just beside the Hernando Beach sign, a true artistic landmark that represents the living gems of the ocean: a trio of radiant, leaping dolphins. Their status reigns as a community tradition, and according to the Florida's Adventure Coast website, "marks the start of the coastal art tour."
Their names are Larry, Curly and Moe.
Crafted exclusively for his home community of Hernando County, the aquatic statue fountain display known as “The Healing” was the final creation of the late artist Ken Edwards.
"The dolphins are an iconic image, beloved by many who frequent US-19, whether on their way to Hernando Beach or just passing by. The beauty of our coastline has inspired many artists over the years; we’re very fortunate to have this piece of sculpture by the renowned Ken Edwards gracing both Hernando County and the entrance to Hernando Beach; offering a hint at the many different art installations in the Beach,” said Tammy J. Heon, Manager, Tourism Development, Florida’s Adventure Coast, Brooksville-Weeki Wachee.
The Florida's Adventure Coast website further reveals that upon Edwards’ sudden death in 2000, son Mark Edwards, daughter Jessie Walters, Richard Maass, Bill Briggs, Ron Lemoine and Kevin Jenkins crafted the metal birds and mangroves "to embellish the piece and pay homage to their mentor." Furthermore, “The Healing” was just one of Edwards' "legacy of famous sculptures around the county and country,” including an eagle sculpture at the Glen Lakes Community entrance and a sphere in front of Pinebrook Hospital.
"My father moved to Hernando because of its natural beauty, that hadn't been overdeveloped," said son Mark Edwards. "It's touching that the people want to preserve the dolphin sculpture. To keep it here." Mark Edwards said that his father, a lifelong artist, often looked to animals such as dolphins for inspiration. And Mark and his sister Jessie looked to their father for inspiration when launching their own art careers. After working alongside him for so many years, they were asked to put the final touches on his final work. "All of the credit goes to Dad, he would be so happy,” said Mark Edwards.
Diane Greenwell, President of HBPOA, offers additional insight about this signature Hernando artwork. "During the dolphin sculpture's completion it was referred to as Larry, Moe and Curly, humorously representing a few of the friends who had mentored and worked with Ken Edwards," said Greenwell. Yet the sculpture's formal name, Greenwell explains, holds a more serious significance. "The dolphin sculpture was named ‘The Healing’ allowing those who finished it to grieve for their beloved friend Ken Edwards. The sculpture was dedicated to Hernando Beach upon its completion and has been the welcoming icon to Hernando Beach over the past 20 years,” wrote Greenwell.
And the sculpture's ultimate significance lies in its divine representation of its home region. "The sculpture is made of brass and was never intended to be a fountain," Greenwell explained. "While many people over the years thought it should be sanded, painted, or spout water, it was created as a work of art that was truly intended to be a sculpture representative of Hernando Beach. Hernando Beach Property Owners Association along with the county has maintained the maintenance on the sculpture over the years."
In 2020, the Hernando Beach Property Owners Association, with the help of Gunter Woog, Bill and Patty Roberts, and Kathy Wakins, oversaw the updated landscaping of “The Healing” statue. It was then that Greenwell learned of the history of this artwork through Richard Maass, who helped complete the sculpture, and then aided in bringing the history back to Hernando Beach.
"Ken Edwards' ‘The Healing’ dolphin sculpture has now been added to Florida's Adventure Coast Art Trail, so that others visiting our beautiful community can see and appreciate this beautiful work of art specifically designed for Hernando Beach,” wrote Greenwell.