It's time this weekend to go back down to the Museum Reach and see the repaired F.I.S.H. art exhibit. Artists from Colorado and Florida are in town to repair the fiberglass art installation damaged in February’s windstorm.
Sustained winds over a 16-hour period and gusts of up to 64 mph on February 25th knocked out power and damaged trees and buildings. Stronger than the force of some tropical storms, the wind also battered the F.I.S.H. exhibit along the Museum Reach of the San Antonio Riverwalk.
John Grant is a staff artist from Denver who works on public art projects designed at Donald Lipski’s studios in New York.
“This actually is one of the studs that comes through here (on the fish). And so, the forces of those winds were so strong that it bent 3/8” stainless steel all-thread. That’s a lot of force,” Grant said.
Grant and Mike Kirkhart from Stuart, Florida, came to San Antonio this week to restore the fish sculptures that hang under I-35 near the San Antonio Museum of Art.
“We were trying to preserve the luminescent quality,” Kirkhart said, “You know, the beauty of it.”
Kirkhart worked with local staff to put the fish halves back together at a San Antonio River Authority workshop Friday afternoon.
"I went down last night and just stood around and listened to people. I mean, they're in love with them," Kirkhart said. He said people said, "'They look so real. And how do they have them holding in place,' and 'they look like they're moving'."
The seven-foot damaged FISH frames are being reinforced, and fin attachments will be restructured. Grant says he came here once before for minor repairs to the exhibit after a tropical storm. But he was surprised no more damage occurred in the February event.
“We look at the numbers here. We’ve got 25 fish flying over the river and three of them needed repair and one came down. And in that storm, with sustained winds for that long, we’re calling that a ‘win’ for this project,” Grant said.
The San Antonio River Foundation team is coordinating the repair effort. All but one fish will be repaired on this trip. They’re hoping to re-install the restored FISH Saturday morning.