The new Spirit of the Ocean Fountain will be dedicated in a public unveiling at 12:30 p.m. July 29 at the historic Santa Barbara Courthouse.

“The Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation has been planning and developing this project for over five years,” foundation President Tom Thomas said. “It has been a labor of love for all those involved and celebrates our amazing community. Now finally we can showcase this phenomenal work of art.”

The Spirit of the Ocean Fountain is an exceptional sandstone landmark. It is the largest public arts project in Southern California. The work replaces the decaying monument that was carved in 1928 by Ettore Cadorin of Venice, Italy. After years of “fix and patch” the old fountain was literally collapsing from the inside out.

The new fountain is a reproduction fashioned from massive stone blanks supplied by Madars “Oz” Ozolins and nearby Slippery Rock Ranch.

The colossal piece was carved from more than 190 tons of sandstone boulders, yet the detail and artistry are exquisite. Classic carver Nick Blantern and his team of four took nearly seven months chiseling and shaping the aquatic-themed figures under tents in front of the courthouse.

“For months we’ve all watched the fountain taking shape,” said Robert Ooley, who chairs the fountain’s dedication and gala celebration. “It was fascinating to see the figures in the fountain literally come to life. Raw stone was turned into a living monument that our city, indeed the world, will enjoy for years to come.”

Evoking the mystery of the ocean, the fountain features a mythical sea man and woman, seaweed and a fish spurting water into a tranquil pool. Blantern used a sophisticated, light scanning device that captured the smallest details of the original fountain. He then used this 3-D, digital image to have an exact foam replica created that served as a model for the new work.

The fountain to date has cost $731,000 raised from public and private grants and major donors, including honorary co-chairs Greg and Jane Hind of the Hind Foundation, Santa Barbara County, Mr. and Mrs. Dick Wolf, and Slippery Rock Ranch LLC.

The official unveiling will be followed by a gala on July 30. The 1920s-themed event will take place at the courthouse Sunken Garden and will swing to the music and magic of the gilded age. Click here or call 805.886.7092 for tickets or for more information.

“We hope the whole city will come and witness this unveiling,” Thomas said. “It represents all that’s so wonderful about our Santa Barbara culture, heritage and future.”

— Robert Ooley represents the Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation.