The photo is of Herbie Rose, the Village of the Arts founder who recently passed away after a long illness. Rose is staring into the distance at an image of Snooty. The caption reads something to the effect, “We are so glad you were there to greet Snooty in heaven.”
“It’s hard to keep from crying just looking at it and I haven’t seen anyone yet not get teary-eyed,” Village of the Arts artist Zoe Von Averkamp said as she placed it on the community shrine dedicated to Snooty at this weekend’s Day of the Dead celebration, an annual event organized by Von Averkamp.
It’s just one unique piece of art created by artists in the village that will make its way for sale, with all proceeds going to the South Florida Museum’s manatee rehabilitation program. More than three months after the community lost its beloved manatee mascot in a tragic drowning accident, Snooty is still finding ways to champion his greatest legacy in helping rehabilitate manatees at the Parker Aquarium inside the museum.
Whether it was Snooty himself or the community that loved him, that mission continues and this time it’s the artists who are stepping up to try to help Snooty’s legacy come alive by donating their artwork of Snooty for sale after the village’s Day of the Dead Festival of Skeletons.
The festival runs from 6-10 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and it is the first time the artists are donating their artwork from the event with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the manatee rehabilitation program.
“Usually, the art pieces are given back to the artists after the festival, but the village artists unanimously agreed that this was a wonderful idea,” Von Averkamp said.
Because it’s Snooty, the shrine will be the largest of the festival’s 13-year history. More than 36 village artists have contributed one-of-a-kind pieces and all will be on display for sale after the festival ends at Divine Excess Folk Art Gallery at 1125 12th St. W.
“Of course we continue to be incredibly moved and heartened by the community’s outpouring of emotion we’ve been receiving and all of the support and all the ways people have been changed by Snooty,” said Jessica Schubick, museum communications manager. “When we first heard about the Village of the Arts doing their community shrine this year to Snooty, it was another symbol of how much Snooty meant to the community and, of course, we are so appreciative of that.”
The museum, in turn, has provided the village with memorial Snooty items. Shubick said if there is anyone who could not get one during Snooty’s memorial service on Sept. 24, they will be available at the shrine for free.
“We know it’s going to be a beautiful tribute honoring Snooty,” she said. “All of these artists are creating these beautiful pieces of artwork memorializing Snooty and came up with the idea of putting the proceeds toward what is Snooty’s primary legacy, the manatee rehabilitation program. We couldn’t be more grateful and we really love that they understand that is Snooty’s legacy, not only to the museum, but to the world.”
Von Averkamp said the village is teeming with excitement to honor the beloved Snooty and for them, “It was the most heartfelt thing we artists could ever do.”