Visual Arts

This Sculpture Is a Piece of Garbage -- Intentionally

Call it "Finding NOMO."

There's a new sculpture at Discovery Green, but you won't find it on land.

For the park's Earth Day festivities this weekend, the Air Alliance has recruited Houston Art Car artist Mark Bradford to make an educational sculpture that represents bottle pollution in our waterways.

It's called NOMO the Eco-Fish. It's entirely made of garbage -- recycled materials including scrap metal that Bradford, a.k.a. "Scrapdaddy," has collected from the Houston Ship Channel, and a belly full of plastic bottles collected from the Buffalo Bayou. "NOMO" stands for "No more trash," and he's surrounded by signs in the water that say "Live animal" and "Do not feed."

"This fish is filled with all these used plastic and glass bottles to illustrate what happens to fish with our junk that's floating in lakes, rivers, streams, bayous," said Suzanne Theis, programming director for Discovery Green.

Terri Thomas, vice president of Air Alliance, which organizes the Earth Day festivities each year at Discovery Green, recruited Bradford to make the fish in an effort to raise awareness about the Texas Bottle Bill, a ballot initiative similar to practices in ten other states that would require a refund on all beverage bottles sold here. The hope is that with an incentive to recycle, the bottles won't end up in the trash and make their way into our water system, where the plastic may be eaten by fish, which, thanks to the circle of life, are caught and then wind up on our dinner table.

"We need to waken up society because we're the ones paying for it in the end," said Thomas. "NOMO the Eco-Fish is an ecologically minded sculpture to hopefully help bring about that awareness."

And with a face only a mother could love -- big red lips, brown teeth and pointy nose over what looks like a mustache, as well as sharp scales down its back, it definitely gets your attention.

"I claim NOMO the Eco-Fish is so darn ugly he's cute," said Thomas. "He's definitely an eye-catcher."

NOMO first debuted at Deborah Colton Gallery earlier this year during an exhibition of Bradford's work. It was installed yesterday in the park's lake, just in time for the Earth Day festivals at the park this Saturday. He will be in the water through April 10, at which point he'll become a fish out of water -- literally. On April 12, NOMO will make an appearance at the mayor's Earth Day breakfast, followed by the Houston Arboretum's Earth Day festival on April 14. On May 2, Thomas will host the sculpture during the Bayou Preservation Association's annual meeting. Then on May 12, it'll ride in the Art Car Parade before finding a permanent home at the new Memorial Silver Triangle Park at Sawyer and Memorial, which has a ribbon cutting on May 31.

For now, he's gaining some fans at Discovery Green.

"It's very animated," said Discovery Green site manager William Flowers. "It's great when we have something different in the lake."

Waste Management Earth Day Houston Festival is scheduled for Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney, April 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free. For more information, visit Discovery Green's Web site. Those interested in learning more about the Texas Bottle Bill and to sign its petition can visit its Web site.

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Meredith Deliso
Contact: Meredith Deliso