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ROSEBUD ORIGINAL VIDEO: The Salmon Flight Sculpture

Have you ever seen that red spinning salmon sculpture in downtown Medford? It’s called “Salmon Flight.” The Medford Arts Commission purchased it in 2007 from the artist, Richard Jarel. The commission purchased the moving, flying fish for $33,000. Salmon Flight was one of 14 proposals for public art originally to be placed on the roundabout on Siskiyou Boulevard and Highland Drive. The commission decided the sculpture would be best suited for the middle of the fountain in the Mayors Plaza, downtown.

So what makes this "Salmon Flight" sculpture special? It’s a kinetic sculpture. It moves much like a mobile. The sculpture was assembled from 13 different components and utilizes over 100 bearing points to balance the structure. The metal fish are connected by joints that allow them to move freely with a little help from the wind. This gives the fish the appearance of swimming. It’s easy to become entranced by their gentle swaying.

Jarel specializes in kinetic sculptures. A Southern Oregon native, Jarel has created commissioned sculptures for the Medford airport and Science Works Hands-on Museum.

Jarel wasn't always a public art sculptor. He started his career as a props and special effects master for a handful of Hollywood movies. Jarel created the helmets used in the "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Movie." He also sculpted the miniatures that would be used as the flying police cars in the cult classic "The Fifth Element."

Adding to the list of his interesting endeavors, he was even a toy designer.

He developed and designed many toy cars, motorcycles, and planes for Mattel's line of action figures known as Max Steel.

“Salmon Flight” specifically depicts chinook salmon in an art style reminiscent of something you would see on a totem pole. The bright red color of the sculpture may allude to the color chinook salmon change into to attract a spawning mate in fresh water. Every fall, chinook swim up the Rogue River and into Bear Creek, which runs right through Medford, to spawn. Once salmon spawn, they die, and their bodies bring much needed nutrients for other species. Salmon are a very important part of Oregon's environment. The chinook salmon is the official state fish of Oregon.

Ashland just held its 14th Annual Bear Creek Salmon Festival that highlighted local experts and demonstrations aimed at teaching the public about the importance of the salmon from an ecological, environmental and traditional standpoint. There was a demonstration of Native American traditional salmon cooking as well.

Check out the bright red, spinning “Salmon Flight” sculpture at the Mayors Plaza on the corner of Eighth Street and Oakdale Avenue.

Salmon Flight by Richard Jarel