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the Catch Home
By Martha Worthley
(reprinted here with permission)
Port Townsend Leader, April 17, 2002
At the conclusion of the Soul Salmon auction, organizers
announce 'Soul Salmon is now closed!'
With $43,000 raised on the auction block, Candy Gohn, one
of the Soul Salmon project "muses," declared:
"Soul Salmon is now closed!"
On Saturday night, April 13, the Celestial Salmon Soiree,
an official evening of celebration to auction salmon sculptures
created by artists and sponsored by businesses, nonprofit
organizations and conservation groups, closed the official
"art action" begun by Chimacum sculptor Sara Mall
"We were thrilled at the way things turned out,"
said Johani. "It was above our expectation and we felt
that it went really well."
The auction was the conclusion of a two-year project that
involved hundreds of community members from Jefferson County
and groups throughout the Puget Sound region using art to
raise awareness about salmon conservation and habitat.
The City of Port Townsend came home with "Quimper
Coho," the salmon painted by Max Grover for the Main
Street Program. Mayor Kees Kolff made the bid of $6,000
that secured "Quimper Coho" a place on its home
ground, potentially as part of the City Hall annex project.
"There are a lot of people in the city who are excited
about that particular fish staying here in port Townsend,"
One side of Quimper Coho depicts Port Townsend - uptown,
downtown and out to Point Wilson Lighthouse - and many baby
fish. The other side features the peninsula landscape, with
kayakers, evergreen trees, baby salmon and water.
"We were hoping that this artwork which depicts our
town could find a home in Port Townsend, and we are delighted
that the city has come forward to purchase this beautiful
piece," said Mari F. Mullen, executive director of
the Port Townsend Main Street Program.
Seven painted salmon and three salmon blanks sold at auction
along with "Salmon Dreams," a painting by Linda
Okazaki, for a total of $35,800. Okazaki's painting illustrates
the auction invitation and catalog cover. Also contributing
to the total amount raised was $4,300 for the restoration
of Thornton Creek in Seattle, $310 for cans of Riverdog
Fine Arts' "Canned Soul Salmon," $1,610 for handmade
salmon centerpieces that decorated each table, and raffle
tickets sold for a donated, handblown glass vase.
At least one other Soul Salmon will return to its home
waters. Attorney and Peninsula College board member Karen
Gates Hildt bought "Spawned Out King," sponsored
by Swain's General Store, Soul Salmon and Rainy Daze. Daze,
a Port Angeles artist, created the fiery king salmon which
"sports ripe spawning regalia encrusted with authentic
abalone accents," according to the catalog. Hildt plans
to bring the "King" to Port Townsend, while her
other purchase, Lynn Di Nino's "Wrong Way Finnegan,"
will stay in Seattle. Proceeds from the sale of "Wrong
Way Finnegan" go to the Jefferson Art Center Project,
after expenses are met. Jefferson Art Center Project also
benefits from the sale of "Lethe," created by
Okazaki. It was purchased by Puget Sound Environmental Learning
Center on Bainbridge Island.
"I think it's fabulous that Port Townsend came out
such a winner," said Gohn, referring to both the fish
that will stay here and the benefit received by sales for
Jefferson Art Center Project "It's a nice marker for
the project, since this was its home."
Michelle Kelley, the Soul Salmon project shepherd, added,
"We would really love to thank all of the sponsors
who took the time to be part of this project. We had a wonderful
time and we really appreciated all of the folks who came
and supported the event. Without all of them, it would not
have been such a success."
Celestial Salmon Soiree took place at the Odyssey Maritime
Discovery Center on Pier 66 in Seattle. It began with Chimacum
sculptor Tom Jay, the creator of the original prototypes
for the male and female salmon, speaking about the importance
of salmon as a keystone species of the Pacific Northwest.
Johani presented "The People's Salmon," a gift
for the governor of Washington state, to Jeff Koenings,
director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife. "He
was thrilled with the whole thing," said Johani. "The
People's Salmon" is going to be on display at the Hands-On
Children's Museum in Olympia, then it will be in the capitol
Auctioneers Sharon and Dick Friel then proceeded, with
the help of Bob Flick, to describe, present and auction
the dazzling parade of fish. The Friels are known for raising
more money for nonprofits than any other auctioneers in
the Northwest, and they kept the evening lively. As each
fish was paraded before the viewers on its way to the auction
block, it was accompanied by music that reflected its artistic
nature - and was a lot of fun besides.
"The Odyssey was such a perfect place to hold the
auction," says Kelley. "We really wanted something
unusual that was on the water, and we couldn't have found
a better spot. The scale of the center and their focus on
fish and the maritime environment provided a great setting."
Kelley worked with event planner Suzanne Hight. Every detail
of the presentation was carefully conceived and exquisitely
presented. Volunteers helped to create salmon centerpieces
for each table. Designed by Johani, the centerpieces were
ceramic salmon encircling a lighted candle and strewn with
beach glass. Sprays of cedar added to the effect and were
also used as embellishments on menus and gift bags. Each
menu at the place settings also had a tiny porcelain salmon
tied to it with raffia.
Jefferson Land Trust volunteers organized all of the registration
and necessary paperwork. "They did an incredible job
and were such a big help," notes Gohn, who along with
other members of the Soul Salmon committee is deeply appreciative
of the Jefferson County community.
With relief at having the final event behind her, Gohn
is also aware that in one sense, the auction was a beginning.
Kelley remarked: "One of the outcomes of the project
was that partnerships were created between groups that didn't
even know about each other before this happened. And personal
connections continued to be made that evening. There are
a number of folks who, inspired by the parade of salmon,
are taking the catalog around and shopping the salmon!"
"The action is over, but the image lives on,"
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