The call came just as Vanessa Montenegro was preparing to leave town. It was mid-July and Montenegro, an artist, had been selected to decorate a 5-foot dolphin through the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce.
"I was so excited," said Montenegro, a West Park Village resident and member of the Westchase Artists Society.
Earlier this summer, the chamber along with neighboring businesses, announced they would be funding an art exhibit to feature 50 bottle nose dolphins along the sidewalk at Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach. As part of the exhibit, the chamber issued a call to local artists to participate by decorating a dolphin.
In early June, Montenegro, a graphic artist and private art teacher, submitted a proposal to be selected. Her proposal was based off a pastime she and her husband enjoy - participating in triathlons.
"My husband is a triathlete, all my friends do the triathlons," Montenegro said. "We all train around here. We go several times to the beach, either swimming or races."
"So when I was looking for subjects," she said. "I thought it's all related."
The chamber agreed with Montenegro and selected her as a featured artist.
After Montenegro was selected, she had to transport the 5-foot tall fiberglass dolphin statue to her Westchase home. She housed it in the garage and spent an entire weekend painting it. She had the assistance of some Westchase Artist Society members, as well.
The finished product was a dolphin painted to resemble an athlete running along a blue beach scene.
"It was kind of difficult," Montenegro recalled of painting the dolphin. "Because it had a lot of detail, so that's what took forever."
The dolphin exhibit at the Pier ended on Sept. 4, however all 50 finished dolphins will be auctioned off by the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce. A date has not been announced.
Having your artwork viewed by others is always fulfilling, said Teresa Trubilla, president of the Westchase Artist Society.
"The public art exhibit of dolphins along Pier 60 in Clearwater provided Vanessa a wonderful opportunity to share her message and artwork with a large group of people and provided a great opportunity for people to enjoy artwork in a non-museum setting," Trubilla said.
"When we finally saw it, it was beautiful," she said. "And to know you can go to this place and your artwork is there is inspiring."
To see the Pier 60 Dolphins visit the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce Facebook Page.