VICTORY by the Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV aside, nothing brought more smiles to downtown Baltimore this year than Fish Out of Water, the extremely clever art project that stocked city sidewalks and plazas with 183 unique objets d'art de mer. So no one should be surprised to learn that the popular poissons are reaping thousands of dollars in an Internet auction that commenced Nov. 18.
"I'm pleased to report that 21 of the 23 fish we initially posted [on eBay] have sold, netting more than $55,000 in bids," says Richard Cross of the Downtown Partnership. "The highest bid was for Walking Fish at $5,613, closely followed by Starfish at $5,050 and Parrot Fish at $4,751. Most of the successful bidders were in the greater Baltimore area, but one fish was bought by someone in Maine. People really love these fish."
Among the bidders is a certain Baltimore television personality and art lover. (Hint: He once dyed his hair and, like Picasso, had a "blue period.") Mr. TV apparently has his heart set on Annabelle, the Sea Flower Fish, one in a group offered for bid on eBay.
Bidding on some fish ends today, and three more groups will be posted on eBay later this week. (Get there via a cool Web site: www.baltimorefish.org.)
"A sixth group will consist of fish that have not sold during the first go-round [and]) will be posted next week," Cross says. "Sort of a fish fire sale."
A live auction, at a dinner sponsored by Legg Mason on Nov. 17, netted - get it? netted? - $373,000 in bids on 60 of the fish, with Cone Fish alone bringing $22,500.
All proceeds from the Internet auction, managed by Alex Cooper and ending Dec. 7, go to arts education programs funded through the Maryland Advisory Committee on Arts and Culture, the "Be Instrumental" fine arts program in city schools and O'Mayor's initiative to wire city classrooms.
Update on Garrett County
While we're on the subject of fund-raisers, some TJI readers might be wondering how things are going in Garrett County, where, because of the loss of an annual grant, the Meals on Wheels program had to cut from five to three days a week its delivery of hot food to frail, elderly adults scattered about Western Maryland's rural countryside.
A fund-raiser Nov. 16 in Grantsville was good for $6,000 from ticket sales, according to Adine Brode, who runs the Area Agency on Aging. She says another $6,000 came in from TJI readers in the Baltimore area. (You make this columnist so proud.)
"Civic organizations, local towns and businesses have contributed the remainder of the funds received to date, and our current total is just over $22,000," says Brode, adding more good news: "We will be restoring one of the lost [delivery] days effective Dec. 3. Hooray!"
With more fund raising, an additional $20,000 to $25,000, the program could return to five deliveries a week.
Want to see something way cool? Go to www.christmas street.com and check out a live-cam shot of West 34th Street in good ole' Hampden. Mark Harp, who lives in the `hood, created a Web page to celebrate Baltimore's most famous and glittery venue for holiday lights. It includes a photo gallery and a pigeon's-eye view of the 34th Street rowhouses, updated every minute. People who no longer live in the Queen City of the Patapsco Drainage Basin, and who find themselves homesick for Honville, will love this.
Meanwhile, as its annual Christmas parade approaches, Hampden is getting all decked out for the holidays. This evening, local scrap-to-art man Randall Gornowich - I once saw him turn a metal ironing board and saw blades into a wall clock - installs something special on the front of Cafe Hon on 36th Street.
"The installation will be 14 feet by 14 feet," he says. "I'll be hanging large white stars with blue and red stripes. The stars will be 2 feet by 2 feet, 3 feet by 3 feet and 4 feet by 4 feet. It should be a fun, kinda patriotic, holiday thing."
Gornowich, by the way, was one of the Fish Out Of Water artists. His offering was Chuck Lightly, the Refuse Roughy. Online bidding for Chuck starts Friday.
GBL returns, online this time
Speaking of Chuck ...
Chuck Jones, native of Glen Burnie and champion of its culture and history - he remembers when Crain Highway had a head shop; need I say more? - used to publish an amusing "family newsletter" about life in the `burbs. It was called "Glen Burnieland," and it became something of an underground hit, chronicling, sit-com-style, the trials (and parole hearings) of a young family in Anne Arundel County. Chuck retired the newsletter a few years ago, and many of its 1,000 subscribers wept into their Wiedemann Lite.
Now he's back, with an online version of GBL. The first issue went into cyberspace yesterday.