Ditch Fish Project: starting to get fishy

This is my adventure into creating an art installation for the Art in Rural Storefronts project sponsored by The Arts Center of Corvallis. ARS serves regional audiences in Linn and Benton Counties by bringing innovative, thought- provoking art projects to rural communities that lack spaces dedicated to contemporary/non-commercial art.  Three artists  were chosen to participate.  The project is funded in part by the Oregon Arts Commission.

This project is about the unseen native fish that spawn during winter/spring months amongst the intermittent drainage ditches of the Willamette Valley agricultural fields. Most fields in our region are devoted to growing grass seed. Linn county is one of the largest producer of this crop. In 2009, researchers at Oregon State University published a study showing that the muddy waterways of the grass farms really do help contribute to the native fish population. They discovered 13 of species total (several were nonnative). Four of the most observed fish were the Red-Sided Shiner, Three-Spined Stickleback, Dace and the Reticulate Sculpin. Juvenile Cutthroat Trout and Chinook Salmon were also part of the findings. They determined fish were actually spawning and using the flooded fields as nurseries. Areas of lower turbidity water was a plus to fish family life.

The first fish I’ll tackle will be a Three-Spined Stickleback. These little guys only measure about 4 to 6 cm in real life. I’ll be creating one about 50 inches total length. You can see my metal 24″ ruler in the photo below. The image is roughly drawn in pencil using a grid system to help me better understand relationship between squares, fish shape & open space. The pencil drawing didn’t show up too well in the photo.

Now starting to get a generalized idea of how to work with the squares.

All the squares will be hanging vertically in the end, not laying on a flat surface.  😉

Maybe Unseen Natives is a good title for this piece….

On a different note:

Last night we took a road trip to Portland for a two person show at the Guardino gallery (Cynthia Spencer and Robert Sumner). Cynthia is a great friend and amazing ceramic artist. There was no way we would miss her opening!  The show features her large stacked ceramic garden sculptures along with great indoor sculptures combining ceramics, paper and wire. A few years back she took a mini paper and wire workshop from me during the branch installation at The Arts Center. Who knew it would rub off and spawn a new line of work for her!  I have to admit I was blown away at the combination of media. Robert’s work was equally impressive with fascinating paintings and wonderful collagraph prints. It took me a little while to realize I own several of his small prints (they are waiting in a flat file drawer to be framed and out on view). I can’t believe we didn’t have our phones or camera along to snap a few photos of event. Congratulations to them both for a great show! May some of the larger works SELL!!!

Published by paperstew

I'm an artist in Albany Oregon focusing on paper and natural objects for inspiration.

4 thoughts on “Ditch Fish Project: starting to get fishy

  1. If you need a home for this fish once the window is over, it would be FANTASTIC hanging above the production floor near the upper level ramp at Wet Labs! I bet Casey would be all over it!! Gorgeous work…great fun to see it progress…

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