Westchester Fish Tales

Although 2012 is the year of the dragon in the Chinese calendar, for ArtsWestchester it is the year of the Fish.  There are two reasons for this.  The first is that the Chinese believe that the fish brings in wealth, and we at ArtsWestchester hope they are right. We need an infusion of arts funding right now.  The second is that we believe that fish are one of the important keys to the ecological health of our local environment and we plan an exhibition called “Fish Tales” in which 18 artists will bring awareness of nature’s unique ecosystem and the role of the fish and man in saving our rivers.  Let’s face it, this is a plan that can’t lose.  We can save the arts, save the fish, or save them both.  One way or another, it’s a win-win.

Drilling down for a moment, there are now over 250 species of fish in the Hudson, which is a good thing.  Unfortunately, most of the species that used to be abundant are no longer plentiful.  Take the herring, once so prevalent in the New York waterways, which is no longer the productive force it once was.  Have we over-fished or have we over-polluted?  Either way, we want back those little filter feeders back in the Hudson. They are creatures who sift pollutants out of the water.  Joe Mullins,  a Croton fisherman who knows and loves the waters near his Croton home, bemoans the fact that he has not been able to catch an eel.  That’s because there aren’t many left in these parts.  Nor is the Atlantic sturgeon popping up too often in our waters.

So what’s this got to do with the arts?  At ArtsWestchester, we believe that artists are the storytellers of our world, whether their stories are in print, in paint, in words or in film.  We have teamed up with R.A.R.E. (Rare Animals Really Endangered, www.rareawareness.com) and its founder La Benida Hui (www.rareawareness.com/about/labenida.html), to present Fish Tales in our White Plains gallery, opening in June.  She is leading a group of artists to tell the story about baby fishes growing in the marshland thwarted by plastic bottles; about how the white perch, a particularly resilient fish, has adapted and survived, regardless of the salinity and trenching of the river,  by changing the salt content of where they hatch their babies; about the endangerment of the whale who takes carbon out of the air, just like trees do; about why the L.I. Sound is saltier than the Hudson, why coral can be used for bone reconstruction and shark skin to rehabilitate burn victims, and why some fish are better for us to eat than others.  Hui throws around terms like Animatics and Biomimicry. She points to the fact that the whale fin has been imitated to increase the velocity and production of power of wind turbines. She knows we can learn from nature. She believes we can save the fish.  She dreams that if we save the fish, we can save the waterways, save the planet, and of course, save the arts.

Our artists are scanning the waterfront for found objects to be used in the construction of their arts objects.  They have found bits of metal, glass, brick, wood, plastic and detritus from former factories such as Crayola and Fleishman’s Yeast.  If you have found objects that you can part with, please let us know. Westchester artists working in this show are: Jay Albrecht (www.artswestchester.org/artists/profile/jay-albrecht/), Beth DeWit (www.artswestchester.org/artists/profile/beth-dewit/), Ann Ferencz (www.artswestchester.org/artists/profile/ann-ladd/), David Licata (www.artswestchester.org/artists/profile/david-licata/), Wilfredo Morel (www.steelimaginations.com/), Joe Mullins (www.artswestchester.org/artists/profile/joe-mullins/), Tova Snyder (www.artswestchester.org/artists/profile/tova-snyder/), and Eileen Stodut (www.artswestchester.org/artists/profile/elyana-stodut).

Image credit: Joe Mullins

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