Artist seeks justice for stolen manta ray statue in Englewood

Englewood artist Dan Swails says he’s hurt someone would steal his sculpture.

The sculpture called “The jumping ray” was dedicated at the Artscape Sculpture Park in Englewood, years ago and he said, “It took 9 months of really hard physical labor.”

Swails sculpted the 11-foot tall, more than 400 pound manta ray by hand out of steel and rebar because he was inspired by the animal’s beauty, saying, “They’re fluid they’re graceful and they’re so strong. They can jump out of the water!”

Swails was proud of his work to make his vision come to life. “They’re alive to me and I won’t let them out of the shop until they have a soul. They’re a live to me, he said.

Thieves stole the sculpture valued at ten-thousand dollars from outside a local business, Friday.

It had been taken down to be sold to Lemon Bay High School – whose mascot is a manta ray.

Neighbor Jim Solari was disappointed, “That’s a shame. It’s a big loss to the town, to the community, to the kids especially.”

He’s shocked this happened in Englewood, which he says has always been known to support the arts. “A lot of work, a lot of effort goes into that stuff. For somebody to just come and steal it is just not fair,” Solari said.

Sawails said he won’t let this stop him from creating new art but says he wants his sculpture back and wants to see justice.

The Sarasota Sheriff’s office is investigating and asking anyone with information to contact (941)861-5800.

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