M’lissa Hartley is seeking clues to find the whereabouts or final fate of a concrete mermaid sculpture crafted by her mom, Kay Henkel, in 1974. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

M’lissa Hartley is seeking clues to find the whereabouts or final fate of a concrete mermaid sculpture crafted by her mom, Kay Henkel, in 1974. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

On the hunt for the Mukilteo mermaid that’s gone missing

Your help is urgently needed.

A mermaid has gone missing. Maybe you have information that can help locate her.

What’s up with that?

It’s a 7-foot concrete mermaid sculpture created in 1974 by Kay Henkel, a well-known local artist at the time.

Her daughter, M’Lissa Hartley, contacted The Herald seeking anyone who might know the whereabouts of the sculpture.

All Hartley has to go on is an old Everett Herald article dated March 2, 1974, with a photo of her mom and the mermaid.

The caption reads: “Mukilteo’s Mermaid: Sculptress Kay Henkel of Lynnwood posed beside the statue of a mermaid that adorns the Mukilteo waterfront. Henkel executed the statue for Mrs. Don Pearsall on a site at 714 Second Ave. donated by the National Bank of Commerce.”

The photo appeared back when the Everett Herald billed itself as The Northwest’s Most Colorful Newspaper and sold for 10 cents. The mermaid shared above-the-fold front page space with a story headlined “Indictments dispute Nixon’s comments.”

Hartley is hunting down the mermaid at the request of her 91-year-old mother, who moved to Palm Springs 30 years ago. About a year ago, Henkel came across that Herald clipping while looking through old pictures and asked Hartley, who lives in Everett, to please check on it.

Hartley tried, but the Mukilteo mermaid was nowhere in sight.

She broke the news to her mom, who wasn’t willing to let it drop.

“She said, ‘Missy, see if you can find out where it is,’ ” Hartley said. “I have driven all along the waterfront in town but did not see any mermaid sculptures.”

So Hartley asked for The Herald’s assistance.

“Do you think if you run an article asking your readers if they know anything, we could get some leads?” Hartley said. “Could be someone might say it’s in their back yard. I would love to be able to tell my mom where the mermaid’s resting place is.”

A less colorful newspaper might have brushed her off.

Reporter Rikki King asked Mukilteo city leaders, and I asked the police chief.

Alas, they could not help solve this mystery. Longtime business owners are stumped as well.

A public works employee recalled seeing it on the west corner of Larry’s Pharmacy, which is now Arnies Restaurant. An Arnies worker remembered seeing the mermaid on the way to the beach as a child.

A check with the Mukilteo Historical Society also came up dry.

“The old timers looked at old references, and we can find no empirical evidence that there was a mermaid statue,” member John Collier said.

He said they’d like to add the mermaid’s stint in Mukilteo to the society’s archives, when and if the case is solved.

I called Henkel at her Palm Springs home.

She told me she spent all summer of 1974 making that mermaid near the Mukilteo waterfront for the pharmacy owner, who she said later moved to Arizona without the sculpture.

“It might have been bigger than 7 feet tall. It took 10 bags of concrete mixed with sand and gravel,” Henkel said. “For heaven’s sake, it’s an enormous concrete thing. I can’t imagine where it is now. I’m curious.”

She doesn’t want it back.

Henkel has made thousands of sculptures in bronze, clay and duracast. Most are expressive life-sized figures of men, women and children — not mermaids — engaged in dancing, huddling, riding bikes, peeking in windows and sitting on benches. There’s even a man in a trench coat flashing (a camera is strategically placed).

She is active in the arts scene in Palm Springs, where a newspaper story called her a “regal-looking renowned sculptor.”

Check out her work at www.kayhenkelsculpture.com, where she lists clients such as William Demarest, Gene Hackman, Sonny Bono and the presidents of Togo, West Africa, China and Ireland.

I went to Hartley’s Everett home, and she showed me some of her mom’s amazing work.

Hartley was a model a few times. She not only posed for figures, she was the figure.

She recalled being immersed in wet, cold sand every day for a week so her mom could make an impression to pour plaster for a commissioned piece.

“Because this lady wanted a nude,” Hartley said. “She took it to the lady’s back yard. I am somewhere naked in infinity.”

Hartley isn’t sure where her likeness stands, and that’s OK with her.

Hopefully her mom won’t ask her to dig that one up next.

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @reporterbrown.

Mermaid tips

Anybody have information about the MIA mermaid?

Contact M’Lissa Hartley at mlissahartley@frontier.com.

Talk to us

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