Grosse Pointe ShoresJuly 18, 2012
Pointe Perch Preview Party spawns record turnout
By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer
It’s a large estate, but the grounds of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House were packed to the gills with local residents eager to get a first look at the fish sculptures that will decorate the community this summer.
An estimated 1,600 visitors came through the gates for the Pointe Perch Preview Party July 11, a chance to see all 51 giant fish sculptures inventively decorated by local artists for the Grosse Pointe Chamber of Council’s fundraising effort, GP Fish. The sculptures will be auctioned off at a gala at 7 p.m. Oct. 12 at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, with the proceeds benefiting the nonprofit Grosse Pointe Chamber Foundation and Services for Older Citizens.
GPCC Executive Director Jennifer Boettcher said they had been expected about 300-400 preview visitors. The high turnout had them scrambling to make more ballots for the People’s Choice award.
“We’re ecstatic,” Boettcher said. “This has exceeded our wildest imagination.”
Exclamations of “That’s hilarious,” “Ooh, I like that” and “Very clever” could be heard as people of all ages admired sculptures that often playfully referenced their sponsors with pun-filled titles and themes.
“I’m loving the excitement here,” said one woman as she walked the Ford House grounds.
In a summer marked by extremely hot temperatures, July 11 was a rare night with pleasant, seasonal weather, which likely contributed to the flurry of visitors.
Grosse Pointe City artist Linda Allen was selected to create two fish sculptures, one of which — the vibrantly colored “Hooked on the Pointes,” sponsored by Grosse Pointe Shores — was embellished with a hook.
“I’m amazed by the caliber,” Allen said of the sculptures as she stopped to look closely at individual pieces. “People really stepped up to the plate from an artistic standpoint.”
Armada Township native Roman Serra, who now has a studio in Royal Oak, used his painting series, “The Year of the Dragon,” as inspiration for his “Mystic Fish.” The sculpture, which features his own pigments and a breath technique he uses to spread the paint out in delicate lines, took 140 hours to create, he said.
Loraleigh Keashly and Bill Warters, of Harper Woods, attending with their son, Spencer Keashly-Warters, 15, were among the many families struggling with which fish to vote for in the People’s Choice contest.
Keashly said some of sculptures played off of the idea of fish in general, while others were more decorative.
“I liked the whole range of creativity. … Some of them are very subtle, and others are… no-holds-barred,” she said.
Her husband appreciated the range and textures.
“Some of them had a certain whimsy to them,” Warters said.
Grosse Pointe Shores City Council member Robert Barrette was also impressed.
“They’re all excellent,” he said. “It’s going to be very hard to vote.”
His wife agreed.
“I didn’t expect this,” said Martha Barrette as she surveyed the crowd and the sea of sculptures. “This is great.”
With names like “Over the Rainbow Trout,” “Sweet-ish Fish” and “Fish ‘n’ Chips” — the last for a sculpture sponsored by Better Made Snack Foods — people like Carolyn Ugval of Grosse Pointe Farms were enjoying the titles as much as the sculptures.
Rosann Kovalcik, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Grosse Pointe Woods, admired the attention to detail taken by artist Kristin McGinnis, who created “Woodroe” for Kovalcik’s store. Kovalcik said McGinnis copied the feathers and other markings of a wood duck using a mount Kovalcik had, then alluded to the type of duck and used “roe,” or fish eggs, in the title.
A number of local officials were on hand, including Grosse Pointe Shores interim City Manager Mark Wollenweber.
“It’s another fun activity that should attract people to buy homes here,” said Wollenweber, grinning as he added a plug for the Shores’ “buy a home, get a free boatwell for a year” program.
Grosse Pointe Woods Mayor Robert Novitke said this is another example of what makes the Pointes special.
“Obviously, (this is) a great community event,” he said. “The sense of community in the Grosse Pointes — that’s why we all live here.”
Novitke’s colleague, Woods City Council member Arthur Bryant, echoed that sentiment.
“This is just wonderful for the community,” Bryant said. “It brings notoriety to us about what goes on here.”
That sense of camaraderie is especially evident in “Fishing for Education,” sponsored by individual donations from board members of the Grosse Pointe Foundation for Public Education. Mary Beth Nicholson, of Grosse Pointe Woods, one of those board members, said their fish was a collaboration between student artists from normally fierce rivals Grosse Pointe North and Grosse Pointe South high schools, who worked closely with each other on the education-themed sculpture, painted with such school symbols as a globe, computer, musical notes and an apple against a school bus yellow base color. Nicholson stressed that funds for the sponsorship came from members, not the foundation fund.
Former state Rep. Andrew Richner of Grosse Pointe Park, now on the University of Michigan Board of Regents, was on hand with his wife, Susan, and their two children. He said the large crowd made it “seem like the entire Grosse Pointe community” was present. Susan Richner concurred, calling it a “wonderful community gathering.”
“We’re very impressed by the talented artists,” she said. “Each one is more amazing than the (last) one.”
“Clown Fish” by Nina Goebel, of Grosse Pointe Park, was selected for the Grosse Pointe Art Center, where Goebel is an active member. The fun, colorful work wears a tiny hat with a flower and, of course, a bright red clown nose. She said she didn’t realize the GPAC was going to choose her design, but thought it might be fitting.
“We’re all a bunch of clowns, I guess,” Goebel joked.
Jane Burkey of Grosse Pointe Woods remembers GP Fish’s local predecessor, Frogs Fur Friends, from 2005.
“I liked the frogs, but the fish are even (better),” she said as she was exiting the grounds.
The sculptures stayed on Ford House grounds for Detroit Symphony Orchestra concerts July 13-14, and were slated, at press time, to be moved to their new homes throughout the community July 17. Sculptures will remain on view — in many cases, outside sponsoring businesses — until the GPYC auction. The GPCC has created a map of all of the sculpture locations that can be viewed online. For the map or more information, visit www.gpfish.net or call (313) 881-4722.
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