Leaping Trout Art Project coming to Phoenicia

Landing a yardlong trout is surely the ultimate angler’s dream. If such a prize really exists, one would think that it would take an epic battle to bring it home. But for 35 local artists living in the Catskill Watershed, obtaining the three-foot fish was the easy part. The challenge was making them beautiful.

The trout in question are not the feisty, slippery, aquatic sort, but rather cutouts made of aluminum. They were distributed by the Ashokan/Pepacton Watershed Chapter of Trout Unlimited as part of what’s called the “Leaping Trout Art Project,” along with instructions to decorate them in the medium of each artist’s choice. The artists rose to the challenge, using paint, hammered metal, glass, fabric, feathers, photography, collage and sculpture to create what may be the most diverse school of fish of the same “species” ever seen.

The idea itself is not exactly novel; in the mid-Hudson alone we’ve seen the same formula played out in the forms of birdhouses, mailboxes, cats for the Town of Catskill, carousel horses for Saugerties and so on. And what better icon for the Catskill Watershed than the trout, considering that our own Beaverkill and the East Branch of the Delaware River are widely regarded as the cradle of the sport of fly-fishing in America?


This all-volunteer, community-based art project is designed to raise public awareness of the critical importance of water quality in the Catskill Watershed, the water supply for nine million New Yorkers. And the ultimate auction of the completed fish art, planned for next spring, will benefit the local Trout Unlimited chapter.

Ranging in style from the realistic to the conceptual, from pieces with no finish to delicate pastels and bright fluorescents, the trout artworks are currently on display at various public locations from Phoenicia to Woodstock. You can access a map of the Leaping Trout Art Trail at www.theleapingtrout.com, and you can also find out there how to place a bid on your favorite fishie.

At the conclusion of this fall’s fishing season, the school of 35 trout will head back upstream for an exhibition at the Arts Upstairs in Phoenicia, with an opening reception on Saturday, November 17 from 6 to 8 p.m. The group exhibition will remain on view through December 14.

Visit www.theleapingtrout.com to find out how to track the 35 artworks in the Leaping Trout Art Project throughout Ulster County or to place early bids for the spring 2013 auction. A group show of all the trout art opens Saturday, November 17 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Arts Upstairs, located at 60 Main Street in Phoenicia. Visit www.artsupstairs.com or call (845) 688-2142 for gallery hours.