LORAIN — Area residents may see more fish popping up around the county, but these won’t be water-bound.
The fish — kinetic sculptures mounted on metal poles — were displayed at Black River Landing on Friday during Lorain’s International Festival. Approximately 75 sculptures, designed by North Ridgeville artist Jim Gundlach and painted by other Lorain County artists and art students, will be displayed in various local communities as well.
Joan Perch, operations coordinator of Lorain County Community College’s Stocker Arts Center, announced her plans to expand Follow the Fish Art and Adventure Tour — a project that kicked off last summer. She described Follow the Fish as an outlet for local artists as well as a unique marketing opportunity for businesses.
As part of Follow the Fish Art and Adventure Tour, Lorain County businesses can purchase a fish, which will then be designed by a local artist and displayed near the business. The business will then be included in a trail map, leading residents and tourists to “follow the fish” to the location.
“The idea is to have local people think about going out of their comfort zones and then people beyond,” Perch said.
A number of businesses have already caught on to the project, including Charleston Coffee Shop and the Lorain Port Authority, which displayed some of the fish.
“We are working together to define this region as a place of art, recreation and fun — a destination for visitors far and near. Including local sculpture at our locations only enhances this,” said Ralph Bruening, Port Authority facilities manager.
Beth Bryan, art outreach coordinator for Follow the Fish, said there is a need for art, especially in Lorain. The group works out of a shop across from the Lorain Palace Theatre on Broadway, and every day, Bryan said, people are coming in to discuss the subject.
“I hate to say that artists think differently, but we do,” she said. “With a group of like-minded people, being able to talk to them, that’s what I need, and that’s what keeps me going.”
Follow the Fish has allowed artists like Steff O’Ryan, of Lorain, to make some money while doing what they love, said Perch.
“The primary goal is to create a real value for artists in the county, to understand the power of the arts and bridge gaps,” she said. “We’re creating a partnership between the business and artists.”
Lorain County Community College art students also got a chance to get involved.
Art students Jared Mitchell and Judy Wu created the largest fish displayed at the Black River Landing — a 16-foot-long giant perch, designed under the direction of art instructor Jean Weigl. The perch, sponsored by the Greater Cleveland Aquarium, displays a painting of a mermaid and a squid.
Wu called the project an “incredible opportunity and learning experience,” according to a news release from Follow the Fish.
Another giant perch, sponsored by the Nord Corporate Foundation and painted by Lorain High School art students, under the direction of Lorain High School art teacher Madeline Pozzi and Follow the Fish chairwoman Perch, can be viewed at Trolley Loop Park at the northwest corner of Lorain’s Bascule Bridge.
Perch, who said she enjoyed the creative aspect of Follow the Fish, said she plans to continue the project for at least two years.
Businesses or individuals can contact her if they would like to purchase a fish at (440) 935-3655.
Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.