GoFish and LeapFrog

In a previous post, I mentioned the ‘famous’ Erie Fish.    I’ve spent the time between that post and this one doing a bit of research and going around collecting pix.  This little project has also been another great way for us to get to know our new area.

As it turns out, these fish were part of a project called GoFish.   A bit of background on the project…..

Around the year 2000, the Erie Art Museum and Gannon University came up with the idea to take art off the walls and bring it to the people.  Their self-formed “Fish Commish” hired a local artist to design a 2 giant fish models (fish were chosen due to Erie’s proximity to the lake) to be marketed to local businesses.  After a purchase, the Fish Commish assigned local artists to paint the fish according to the wishes of the buyer…some of them reflected the type of business which had bought it, some had sayings or mottos written on it, some displayed the painted hand prints of children at the school where it sat, etc. whatever the buyer desired.

Set up to benefit both the Erie Art Museum and the Gannon University General Scholarship Fund, the price of a fish was $3,000.00 if the buyer would donate the fish to be auctioned at the end of the planned display time and $3,500.00 if they wished to keep the fish after the planned display periodThings got off to a slow start but after the first fish was bought and displayed in 2001, the Fish Commish was SWAMPED with orders.   At its peak, Erie was a virtual aquarium when 90 fish were displayed on street corners, in schoolyards, banks, etc.

Even now, almost 15 years after the first fish appeared, some of these fish still remain in Erie.  I was unable to get to some as they were inside businesses that I had no business in, etc.   But feast your eyes on the ones I could get to!  

FROG (15)  FISH (9) FISH FISH (7) FISH (8) FISH (5)    FISH (4) FISH (3)  FISH (6) FISH (2)  FISH (1)

Based on the success of the GoFish project, a new initiative called LeapFrog was begun in 2004.  Again, it was headed by the Erie Art Museum and Gannon University.  This time, however, frogs (representing the 7 species of frogs indigenous to the Erie area) were used instead of fish.   Again, 2 different models were created (one standing, one sitting) and marketed to local businesses.  At its peak, 102 fiberglass frog statues decorated by local artists were displayed all around Erie transforming it from a virtual aquarium into a virtual lily pad!  Have a look at this crew of frogs!

FROG (17)   FROG (16) FROG   FROG (14) FROG (13) FROG (12) FROG (11) FROG (9) FROG (10)    FROG (8) FROG (7) FROG (5)  FROG (4) FROG (1) FROG (2) FROG (3) FROG (6)Both these projects were started as a way to “build community around whimsical art.”   Definitely this happened.   In researching these projects, I’ve read that a new fish or frog delivery got to be a big event in Erie.  People would come out in hordes to get their pic snapped with the new fish on the block and some people even had t-shirts made!

Of course, now many other cities have their own similar mascot program.    Have you seen one like this or does your own city have one?


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68 thoughts on “GoFish and LeapFrog

  1. These are wonderful! My favourites are the airplace fish and Statue of Liberty frog. The imagination of some artists is really impressive.

    The year 2000 seemed to trigger many of these projects. In Toronto it was called Moose in the City and because Toronto can be a bit of a stick in the mud, the project was largely mocked. Occasionally I’ve been able to find a new moose and my collection of photos is growing … but they are few and far between.

    Unfortunately I’ve been able to find little information about the Toronto moose. It looks like you’ve been so much more successful with the fish and frogs … and they seem to be in abundance!

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    • Oh, I am so jealous of your Toronto moose! I love moose and always hope I’m going to see one every time I’m out exploring Canada…..alas, no luck yet (perhaps because I generally frequent the shopping areas and not the wilderness? LOL!). Perhaps these Toronto moose are just the ticket! How interesting that your city had a project like this. I had no idea!

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  2. Not seen one or done it but, truly l loved reading and seeing the mascots for Erie. How inventive and creative – they are brilliant pieces of art.

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  3. Wow! Love the fish and the frogs. My city has painted horses everywhere. They also have an annual mural festival so the city is filled with murals around every corner. I often feature them in my Wordless Wednesday posts.

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  4. These are great and what a wonderful idea to add color to a city. We don’t really have anything similar, however there is a big fish in Belfast made yo of lots if different picture tiles. Now I understand the fish comment! 🙂

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    • Wow, you really have been all over the place! After reading up on the Erie frogs and fish, I have learned that this has been done in quite a few cities, but I hadn’t heard of your chickens in Annapolis or Joanne’s moose in Toronto. Who knows what’s next though…..perhaps we should initiate one where statues of bloggers are placed in our cities? LOL

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  5. Loving the fish especially! The aircraft propeller fish is my favourite!!!
    Yes, Liverpool near me at home, has ‘lam banana’ around the city. Cross between a lamb and a banana (just google the word to see some pics) they were commissioned as part of Liverpool being the European City of Culture in 2008 and are dotted across the city in lots of bright colours and patterns. There’s 2 on the platform at our local railway station but many more in the city centre. They’ve now become a local symbol for Liverpool (along with the obvious Liver Birds) and you can get them on key rings and necklaces! Take a peek online ….. 😊😊

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  6. How fun are these!!! 🙂 And why does WordPress keep kicking me off your blog??? 😦 This is the third time I’ve had to hit “Follow.” Very strange. I’ll think I haven’t seen a post in a while or you will comment on mine, and then I go look and I am “un” followed. Very strange! Sorry to be MIA!

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  7. In Vermont we had cows on downtown Burlington street corners. Here is Portland, Oregon it’s pretty eclectic…I’ve seen horses and pigs so far. I love the fish and frogs. They’re beautiful and all so different.

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