I Watch Salmon from the Bridge Above is an outdoor steel sculpture by artist Ed McCarthy of Renton, WA and was part of AHB’s 2021 Something New IV rotating public art program in Winslow. Originally created as one of six abstract “people” that comprise a family of individuals shaped by city objects; the sculpture has paradoxically found a forever home in a wooded rural residential property on the north end of Bainbridge Island with proud new owner, Nancy Lewars. In addition to being rehomed, I Watch Salmon from the Bridge Above has been renamed. He is now called Sam.
The sculpture, designed to explore the relationship between people and the urban environment, has landed squarely between two large evergreens and now seemingly contemplates the relationship between sculpture and the natural landscape. Despite divergent ideations, intentions and settings both artist and owner share a common affinity for artist Joan Miro and so both are quite happy with Sam’s new situation and with each other as creator and collector.
Miro was notable for his interest in the unconscious or the subconscious mind which is reflected in his re-creation of the childlike, and so it is with the unburdened mind of a child that nothing is beyond the sphere of happening in a particular way. There exist no preconceived ‘shoulds’ and therefore it’s not unreasonable to imagine a “person” created of abstracted city objects finding its home in the forest. The juxtaposition is joyous. Nancy recalls first seeing the piece on public display in Waterfront Park and says over time it grew on her and she became fond of its simplicity and playfulness. Certainly, the vibrant bond between art, nature and people is nothing new and it’s this connectivity that AHB’s Public Art Committee strives to nurture through its Something New program, now in its fifth year.
Unsurprisingly Mrs. Lewars took a playful approach to figuring out where the piece should be located on her property. In preparation for installation day, Nancy created a poster board mockup of the sculpture so that she, her children and grandchildren could easily tote “Sam” around, placing him here and there to see what site worked best. Artist Ed McCarthy and wife Carmie were on hand to help with their dog in tow. Nancy is happy with the final placement adjacent to the long driveway which she says, “looks cool in both directions” pointing out that siting it along the driveway is welcoming, and a delightful surprise because Sam is not immediately seen as you turn in off of the road but becomes visible as you round a gentle curve.
Ed McCarthy appreciates Nancy’s genuine enthusiasm for his work and this piece. He says, “I’m happy it got a good home. It’s a thrill really, to see it installed.” He took a picture of Sam in his rearview mirror as he left the Lewars property.