New Brunswick

'Tears shed' after salmon art disappears from Saint John street

Organizers of a Saint John tourism and cultural project have been rattled by the theft of a work of public art, in this case one of 10 much-loved salmon sculptures on display in the uptown.

Colorful sculpture was one of 10 of the fish that became big hits in uptown

Artist Lisa-Ann Scichilone's work of public art vanished from a Saint John street early Thursday. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

Organizers of a Saint John tourism and cultural project have been rattled by the overnight theft of a work of public art.

One of 10 much-loved salmon sculptures on display in the city's uptown was stolen in the early morning hours Thursday.

Billed as a celebration of local artists, the project got 10 different artists to paint a salmon sculpture each. The sculpture that vanished was the work of Lisa-ann Scichilone.

"We want it back," said Victoria Clarke, executive director of Discover Saint John. "We want it back because it belongs to the city."

'People loved them'

The project was financed with a $50,000 grant from the Department of Tourism Heritage and Culture and was an immediate hit this fall when the visually arresting sculptures appeared in locations around the uptown.

"There was such incredible civic pride immediately," said Clarke. "People loved them."

The missing sculpture had been mounted on a steel post on Princess Street near the city's waterfront.
"There has been several tears shed," said Scichilone, when reached by CBC News.

"I think the person that did that would be incredibly selfish. I created it for the public to enjoy and that's where it needs to be."

Scichilone said she did a lot of research on the life cycle and struggles of wild Atlantic salmon. She wanted the work to be visually beautiful and to evoke thought and feeling in those who saw it.

She's hoping it will be returned with little damage.

Saint John Mayor Don Darling has offered a $500 reward for the undamaged return of the sculpture.

Other sculptures take down

"These are unique, one-of-a-kind pieces of art,"  Darling said. "I want it back."

The remaining salmon sculptures were quickly removed early Friday and put into storage amid fears copycat thefts would occur.

That removal was originally scheduled for later in the month.

No decision has been made on whether the art will be returned to public, outdoor settings next summer.