New exhibit to open at Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
Mermaids are swimming from the far depths of the ocean to the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.
They will be there for photo ops with those mermaids Nov. 13 to celebrate a new exhibit, “Mermaids: Visualizing the Myths & Legends— Photography by Ralph A. Clevenger & Friends.”
The mermaids will pose for photos from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1 to 2 p.m., by appointment. Cost is $10 for museum members and $30 for nonmembers.
The exhibit will open Nov. 11 and remain at the museum through March 31. The original plan was for the exhibit to open April 22, but it was postponed because of the pandemic.
“Mermaids: Visualizing the Myths & Legends” consists of 16 images printed on canvas by Mr. Clevenger and his friends. Most of the photos were part of an underwater photography course that Mr. Clevenger taught at Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara.
The instructor arranged for professional mermaids to join his class during the summers on a dive boat to the Channel Islands, according to a news release.
“There is no question about how hard the mermaids worked for these images,” Mr. Clevenger said.
“Wearing cloth-covered monofin tails or silicone molded tails, they could swim farther and faster than any of us,” he said. “While students wore wetsuits in the cool 70-degree water, the mermaids were nearly naked, spending upwards of 30 minutes in the water at a time during a photo shoot.”
Mr. Clevenger said the models had to hold their breath and dive down, then release their breath and pose gracefully for the photo. They returned to the surface and kept this sequence going all day.
“We always provided safety divers, paddle boards for the mermaids to rest on, and hot showers and warm drinks on the boat in between shoots,” Mr. Clevenger said.
Mr. Clevenger grew up on the coast of North Africa and began diving with his father in the Mediterranean Sea at the age of 7. He studied zoology and worked for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego as a diver/biologist before attending Brooks Institute of Photography.
Mr. Clevenger was a senior faculty member at the Brooks Institute for 33 years.
Today the Santa Barbara photographer continues to focus on location photography and video projects of eco-travel, environmental portraits, wildlife and undersea subjects. He’s traveled on assignment for clients such as Fox Sports, University of California, Denali National Park Wilderness Center and National Marine Sanctuaries.
His photos have been published in Audubon, Afar, Islands, Oceans, Nature’s Best, National Geographic, Terre Sauvage, and other national and international publications. He is the author of the book “Photographing Nature,” published by New Riders.