Early in the 20th century, diver Tom Mahinis explored the Gulf of Mexico, defying sharks, mercurial weather and the putrid smell of decomposing sponges, sometimes for weeks on end.
A century later, his grandson and namesake, Tommy Mahinis, is exploring the culture of the deep blue sea through the more benign world of digital art and photography. He finds traditional photos "boring" and likes to manipulate them with the aid of computer software. Many have a surreal look.
One of his images — that of a Greek sponge diver donning a copper and brass diving helmet and traditional garb — is featured on posters and T-shirts for this weekend's Tarpon Springs Fine Arts Festival on Spring Bayou.
"I want to keep our heritage alive and showcase some of the things in Tarpon Springs that might not be around in the future," he said.
The 37th annual festival by the Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce is held in Craig Park along the scenic Spring Bayou. It runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
There will be music and food; coolers and pets are not allowed.
Admission for adults is $2; children 12 and under are admitted free. Proceeds benefit the educational programs of the Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce.
A jury selected about 235 artists from around the country to participate in the event. They will be vying for more than $20,000 in award money.
It's a bigger purse this year with more prize categories. In another positive development, more than 100 artists submitted photos for the juried art show, said chamber president Sue Thomas.
"We can tell the recession is starting to turn around. People are starting to feel optimistic and are willing to travel again," Thomas said.
Be sure to stop by Mahinis' booth and view his hometown photos of boats, flowers, wildlife and marine life.
"About 85 percent of my work was shot right here in Tarpon Springs," said Mahinis, who is also a professional fishing guide.