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Makes a Splash
By Martha Worthley
(reprinted here with permission)
Port Townsend Leader, November 21, 2001
The Bellevue Art Museum is transformed into a streambed
for Soul Salmon 2001, with other salmon sculptures on view
in adjoining galleries. Jefferson County volunteer Michelle
Kelley designed the installation for "The First Splash,"
a reception at the museum on Nov. 17 that celebrated the
project designed to raise awareness about salmon and their
The First Splash! brought 35 Soul Salmon and a school of
Jefferson County residents to the Bellevue Art Museum on
Nov. 17 for a celebration of the sculpture project designed
to raise awareness about salmon and their habitat.
The museum was transformed into a stream bed, with fish
swimming down the middle and leading up the stairs to more
gallery space containing the dazzling 8-foot sculptures.
The evening culminated with a winner drawn for the raffle
of "First Salmon," sponsored by Soul Salmon Project
2001 and created by Loren White, Lane Quine and Steve Brown.
The event was hosted by William and Jill Ruckelsaus.
Jefferson County residents have seen the fish popping up
in places like Brothers Printing in Chimacum, Carlson Chiropractic
on Lawrence Street in Port Townsend, and at the Wooden Boat
Festival in Point Hudson. The most recent county fish was
just unveiled last week for the Jefferson County Parks and
Recreation division of Public Works. It was created by local
artist Larry Eifert. Jefferson County was represented by
13 Soul Salmon at the Bellevue Art Museum.
Sara Mall Johani, a sculptor from Chimacum, first conceived
of the project after hearing about a similar one called
"Cows on Parade." Intrigued by the idea of creating
art to benefit charity, Johani took the notion one step
further - she wanted to raise awareness about salmon and
their habitat. Calling the project Soul Salmon, Johani worked
with volunteers to develop a multi-faceted approach.
The core team of volunteers includes Johani, dubbed the
"Godmother" of the project; Tom Jay, sculptor
and head of the technical committee; Shelby Smith, who worked
on outreach, liaison with sponsors, and printed materials;
Michelle Kelley, "jack of all trades" and designer
of the museum installation; and Candy Gohn, secretary, treasurer
and graphic designer.
A school curriculum for educators was put on the Soul Salmon
Puget Sound Water Quality Action Team sponsored local educator
Julie Marston to act as a facilitator for teachers wanting
to implement the curriculum. The Soul Salmon project spread
to communities throughout Puget Sound. In addition to those
from Jefferson County, Soul Salmon displayed at the Bellevue
Art Museum represented Mount Vernon, Seattle, Orcas Island,
Tacoma, Underwood, Shoreline, Sequim, Belfair, Langley,
Bainbridge Island, Olympia and Vancouver, B.C.
Sponsoring organizations purchased a fish "blank"
created from an original by Chimacum sculptor Tom Jay. Another
artist or group of artists was the next link in the life
cycle of the Soul Salmon, hired to decorate the fiberglass
blank. When completed, the fish were displayed in their
communities or traveled with educational exhibits. Some
are being raffled to raise money for their sponsors and
some will take part in an auction on April 13, 2002.
Sponsors who were willing to transport a Soul Salmon brought
their fish to the Bellevue Art Museum on Nov. 17 to be displayed
for a celebration of the project and for the raffle drawing
of "First Salmon." Edensaw Woods of Port Townsend
helped to bring five fish across the water from Jefferson
Port Townsend photographer Frank Ross took pictures as
they were brought in the museum. By noon, installation designer
Michelle Kelley began setting up the exhibit with the help
of volunteers. The reception began at 7 p.m. "We had
a finite time that we were allowed to use the space,"
explained Candy Gohn. "It all had to be dismantled
Saturday night following the splash." Gohn noted that
the team of volunteers was unstoppable when obstacles arose.
All the Jefferson County salmon returned home by Monday
except for the one created by Max Grover for the Port Townsend
Main Street Program. That fish is on display along with
Grover's paintings at the Fountainhead Gallery in Seattle
through Dec. 1. Jefferson County is also gaining a few extra
Soul Salmon that are scheduled to be on display until the
auction in April.
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