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Miami artist LEBO to create hull art for Norwegian Getaway

Norwegian Cruise Line got in on the art frenzy surrounding Miami this week with an art-related announcement of its own — at a studio, no less.

The Miami-based cruise line announced Monday that David Le Batard, the artist known as “LEBO” whose work has adorned buildings, a food truck and even pianos-as-public-art in South Florida, has been selected to create the hull art for NCL’s new Miami ship. The design was unveiled at Le Batard’s Wynwood studio.

Norwegian Getaway, which is scheduled to start sailing year-round from Miami on February 1, 2014, will be adorned with beachy images including a mermaid, sun, swirling waves, palm trees and pelicans.

“I wanted to create something that I felt people at large could connect with and something I felt would be unique,” said Le Batard, 40, who grew up in South Florida and lives in Miami Beach. “If you’re there at Government Cut watching the cruise ship come in and out, hopefully it will look like a mermaid coming out of the water.”

Le Batard called the experience of being chosen for the project “heartwarming and humbling.” On his website, he is described as a postmodern cartoon expressionist, abstract artist, mural painter, musically inspired live painter and sculptor.

Norwegian president and CEO Kevin Sheehan said the company wanted to go with a local artist who was still coming into his own; he cited Le Batard’s recent work with Harley-Davidson Motorcycles and singer Gloria Estefan.

New York pop artist Peter Max designed the hull artwork for the Norwegian Breakaway, which will be based in New York City after it is delivered in April. Earlier ships also feature paintings on the hull, but the practice of selecting a well-known artist to create the art started with the Breakaway. Both Breakaway and Getaway have capacity for 4,000 passengers at double occupancy.

“When we came to think about the Getaway, to me what was really important is I wanted someone who kind of grew out of this market, who represented this market, who we would all be proud of ... and was not at that same point in his career that he was a master and the entire planet knows him,” Sheehan said.