Lebanon Valley Council on the Arts’ public art installation “Fish Out of Water” is wrapping up with an auction of the artfully decorated fish that were part of the exhibit.

“The community has the opportunity to own a piece of local art produced during the pandemic,” said Sharon Zook, president of the arts council.

The 25 fish were on display during this month’s First Friday Art Walk at the Lebanon Valley Council on the Arts gallery, 770 Cumberland St., Lebanon. Bidding is open now and will close at 8 p.m. Dec. 4 during the First Friday Art Walk. Minimum bid is $8.

For those who may have missed the First Friday display or who wish to view the artwork online, an online slideshow is available. There are several ways to place a bid: online at the arts council’s Facebook page (place the bid in the comments section under the fish you would like to purchase) and in person at the gallery during regular hours from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. Proceeds of the auction will help fund the arts council’s 2021 public art project.

The fish were on display this summer as a public art project in Lebanon along Veteran’s Memorial Walkway, which runs along the Quittapahilla Creek or the Quittie as it’s known to locals. Metal cutouts representing three of the species of fish found in the creek – sunny, trout, and bass –served as the canvas for artists to create their work.

Read More: ‘Fish Out of Water’ exhibit installed along Veterans’ Memorial Walkway

“We planned this exhibit last year before the COVID-19 lockdown this spring. We had people lined up to create a fish including school groups, but since they couldn’t do it due to the schools being closed, other people stepped up,” explained Sharon Zook, president of Lebanon Valley Council on the Arts.

Artists include professional artists such as Katie Trainer and Hope Kutenis, art students at Splat Studio, and municipal officials including Lebanon Mayor Sherry Capello and Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz. The public art project opened with 19 fish during a Frist Friday Art Walk on July 3. Zook said after seeing the exhibit, several people wanted to be part of it. “We cut more fish, and we ended up with a total of 25 fish,” she said.

She said the goal of public art is to move people, engage people and to start conversations. By choosing public space or space that’s underutilized, art helps break down divides between people. “Public art provides a space where people feel safe,” Zook said.

Over the summer she said she was excited to see people taking ownership of the Veteran’s Walkway area by doing things like picking up trash and litter in the area. “The exhibit also introduced the area to people who didn’t know there was a waterway in the city. It also became a popular destination for walking or biking, particularly during the lockdown,” she said.

Regarding the auction of the fish artwork, Zook said that if a winning bidder would like to meet the artists that created his or her fish, it most likely could be arranged.

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