Leaping sturgeon art installation lines Water Street in Augusta | newscentermaine.com – NewsCenterMaine.com WCSH-WLBZ | Gmx Pharm

The new public art exhibit was made possible by the Augusta Downtown Alliance and features designs by local artists, businesses and non-profit organizations.

AUGUSTA, Maine – Every year, sturgeon can be seen leaping through the Kennebec River. Now the art mimics life as sturgeons leap out of the water and leap onto Water Street in Augusta.

“We were looking for a new art project that would be different than a mural,” said Michael Hall, executive director of the Augusta Downtown Alliance.

This summer, the Augusta Downtown Alliance helped facilitate a new public art exhibition on Water Street. A total of 26 fiber optic jammers were installed along the road.

“We felt this was a great symbol not just of the city, but of everything going downtown,” Hall said.

In recent years, revitalization efforts in the downtown Water Street area have made a difference as new businesses opened and buildings were remodeled. According to Hall, the Augusta Downtown Alliance received a $50,000 grant from T-Mobile to help enrich downtown arts and culture.

According to Hall, the sturgeons were farmed by Fiberglass Farm in Belfast. The sturgeons were then designed and painted by various local artists, non-profit organizations and businesses.

“Looking at it every day, I think there’s a bit of pizzazz where we are on Water Street,” said Camryn Elliott.

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Elliott helped design one of the sturgeons on display outside of The Studio at Gallant Therapy Services, a downtown Augusta art studio that works with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, developmental delays, and autism.

“I think it’s a good thing to see everyone’s different artwork and different perspectives on what Maine is to them,” Elliott said.

The designs feature everything from a painting of the Maine State House, realistic paintings of sturgeon, and even a tattooed sturgeon outside of SaylorInk Tattoo. Owner Dustin Tribou says his design is based on a practice skin used by trainees and includes many classic tattoo designs and nods to nearby businesses.

“I absolutely loved it,” said Tribou. “People would come in just to say, ‘Hey cool fish.'”

The art installation has also given local artists the opportunity to exhibit their work in a uniquely visible space.

Outside of his work at SaylorInk Tattoo, Devin Bachelder says he’s exhibited other paintings at local studios, but this is his first chance to see his art for anyone who passes by.

“I feel like somehow this place gave me a chance to grow and I want to grow with it,” Bachelder said.

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Bachelder says he hopes to continue making public art in the area.

“You have to come here to see stuff like that, because that’s where it is now,” Bachelder said.

Hall says the sturgeon has been very well received in the city so far and hopes it can attract even more people to the revitalized area.

“Actually, it blew my mind. We always knew they would be popular and an attraction,” Hall said. “But when they installed even the first sculpture, we had seven or eight people taking photos. And it’s only grown since then.”

According to Hall, the sturgeons will be on display until mid-October. After a hibernation, the parts will be reinstalled around Memorial Day. After two years, the sturgeons will be auctioned, and the Augusta Downtown Alliance plans to display a new animal or design downtown.

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