Mermaid Collection

By Bill Buerge


Finding and extracting value out of found-objects

is a part of what I do, and who I am.


I am an incurable collector, garage sale cruiser, curbside scrounger, dumpster diver, antique aficionado, hopeless hoarder -- and preservationist -- or a variant thereof. All I know is that I am drawn to wonderful old things, like discovering them, and love fixing them up. Its a passion and an obsession. Done it all my life in a zillion different ways. Feels like a calling, really. Whether it’s making sculptures out of junk as a kid, later restoring historic landmark buildings, redoing old furniture, adopting orphaned plants for the garden, or collecting and using mermaids as architectural elements -- discovering and gleaning new-found value out of old and idle items is my drug of choice.

                              

Preservation is a form of recycling, of course. It’s good for the planet to reinvigorate and reuse our pre-existing stuff. So much of the new stuff is crap anyway, if i may be so blunt. I love to make the rounds of my favorite antique haunts to see what I can find. I do it on Sundays instead of going to church. To be in the midst of so many finely-wrought and exquisite things is a bit of a spiritual experience for me. Trouble is, I always seem to find something of interest and value. It is not necessarily an inexpensive predilection. 


Since I had acquired a fabulous historic building

with “Mermaid” in its name, it just made sense to find mermaid

antiques and collectables to embellish the place.


I discovered mermaid light fixtures, mermaid furniture, mermaid candelabras, mermaid tile, mermaid aquariums -- all manner of mermaids imaginable! Mermaids have been an abiding human preoccupation, cultural theme, and ubiquitous design element in societies, religions, folklore, and the arts, throughout time, the world over. They call to us and we are drawn to them. After all, weren’t we all once wee tadpoles with tails and gill-slits swimming in our mother’s wombs? Do mermaids remind us of the liquid realm from whence we came, to which we can never return?


They are archetypal and mysterious, sensuous and sexy, seductive and dangerous, highly symbolic, profoundly unobtainable, and somehow endlessly fascinating to us humans -- regardless of age or sex.


Mermaids defy demographics. Little girls want to be them, women want to look like them, and men want to hook up with them.

 

Problem is -- inspired, beautiful (and affordable) mermaid objects are extremely hard to find, and you really don’t see too many in antique or other stores. Mermaid fans and collectors snap them up like tuna scarfing anchovies. There is a mind-boggling amount of hard-core mermaid collectors out there making it a somewhat competitive pursuit. The internet is actually the best place to get them, nowadays. The other challenge is -- most mermaids you find are unattractive, badly made, just plain dumb, or otherwise not terrific, sorry to say. For every mermaid acquired, a hundred are thrown back.


A good mermaid is hard to find -- lousy ones are legion.


I have sought to acquire the good ones for the Mountain Mermaid and its collection. The categories above are somewhat arbitrary and this collection is not intended to be inclusive or represent any particular period. The only thing my mermaids share in common is that I like them. They are the ones I found to be interesting, beautiful, inspirational -- or, all of the above.


PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROBIN GANTER