The Mermaid Star Motel - CODAworx

The Mermaid Star Motel

Submitted by Fairgrounds St. Pete


Location: St. Pete, FL, United States

Completion date: 2021

Project Team


Liz Dimmitt

Fairgrounds St. Pete


Mikhail Mansion

Fairgrounds St. Pete


An art experience inviting the public to explore an artist-made world through discovery and play, Fairgrounds St. Pete’s Mermaid Star Motel was largely created by our internal art team in a retro-futuristic style. From the mer-scale wainscoting to the mermaid-starred doors, its design, aesthetic and vibe celebrates Florida mermaid and roadside cultures. The motel’s penthouse windows contain digital works by artists Nick Davis and Jaurice Moore aka “INDIE REECE”.

The motel rooms are designed as experiential immersive exhibits with art and interactives to inspire guests to explore hidden narratives within the unique installations. The Mermaid Star Motel has 6 motel rooms, a motel lobby, and a pool area. Two of the motel rooms are artist takeovers by Chris Parks, aka “Palehorse”, and duo Macy Higgins, aka “Macy Eats Paint” and Emiliano Settecasi.

The Motel Lobby and Motel Pool area recall roadside motel and attraction aesthetics with clues and mysteries that cause guests to investigate the environment, as well as create and choose their own experience. This indoor environment, with an outdoor feel, was designed to be enjoyed by all.


Fairgrounds St. Pete’s Mermaid Star Motel is an artist-made world for which artist commissions are crucial to creating the experience. Our commissioning process began in the spring 2020, amidst the pandemic, when we put out an artist open call 145 artists applied, and from there, over half of the artists were selected to submit longer proposals. From these proposals, we prioritized the artworks based on the needs of our inaugural exhibition. As our CEO Liz Dimmitt says, "we created the canvas, and the artists brought the paint.”

For our inaugural exhibition, we commissioned 64 artists to contribute artwork. Our exhibition includes works by internationally recognized and emerging artists, all with ties to Florida, providing them a platform to showcase their work and experiment with new ideas.

Our name, Fairgrounds St. Pete, references the traditional fairgrounds as a place for exhibiting new ideas and recognizing talent. At Fairgrounds St. Pete, we are committed to inspiring visitors through discovery and play.


Fairgrounds St. Pete’s art + technology team worked through a highly collaborative process of designing and building The Mermaid Star Motel: a large-scale immersive environment.

Over a period of two years, the team engaged with many types of disciplines and tradespeople to renovate an industrial warehouse into a feasible platform for artistic expression that is safe and accessible for the general public.

The design and integration of network technologies, custom controllers, AV and lighting systems provides a technical backbone for engaging interactive touch-points that support overarching Florida narratives. Through a far-reaching curatorial process, artists were commissioned to launch their own creative ideas on a custom immersive platform, and were supported throughout their creative process to design, fabricate and install their contributions.