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South Salt Lake Journal

Public art installations along Jordan River reel in the attention of all passersby

Jul 07, 2023 10:50AM ● By Ella Joy Olsen

A biker ponders the Jordan River while standing next to the green fish wayfinding marker, affectionately named Decrayvion by fourth-grade students at Poplar Grove Elementary. (Ella Joy Olsen/City Journals)

A young girl jumps off her bike and trots over to an enormous metal fish. She squeals, “The fish are jumping out of the ground!”  

Her dad rolls to a stop next to her, “Do you think there will be a splash?”

The fish are indeed jumping out of the ground at several trailheads along the Jordan River Parkway Trail, making a splash for all who encounter them. The installation of the 11 fish at the Riverview Trailhead at 1835 N. Redwood Road is one part of a public art installation called Jordan River Current, which includes a total of 25 steel-constructed, 8-foot-tall trout sculptures.

The artsy fish are intended as markers for “wayfinding” for folks paddling the river and are found at four different boat ramps spanning over 7 miles of the Jordan River Trail. “It’s easier to say, ‘if we get separated, pull out at the green fish,’ rather than trying to detail the look of one boat ramp from another,” said Renato Olmedo-Gonzalez, public art program manager at the Salt Lake City Arts Council. 

The fish are intended to be a way to encourage recreational water use on the Jordan River. Plus they are engaging and interesting for walkers, joggers, cyclists and skaters that use the shared-use path paralleling the meandering, slow-running river. 

The Jordan River Trail is a north-south system that connects a total of 45 miles through Salt Lake County. The trail further connects to neighboring counties, allowing for travel to Utah Lake and the Great Salt Lake. It is a recreational asset located within 15 minutes of about half of Utah’s population.

Many city and county parks and golf courses are located along the parkway, along with numerous boat access ramps. 

Currently, the fish are on display at the following places: Riverview Trailhead (1835 N. Redwood Road) contains 11 sculptures; Gadsby Trailhead (1223 W. North Temple) contains six sculptures; Fisher Mansion (1206 W. 200 South) contains three sculptures; and Glendale Park (1700 South and approximately 1100 West) contains five sculptures.

At this time there are no plans to install the “wayfinding” fish at other boat ramps but, “the hope is that other cities connected by the Jordan River Trail will commission their own public art,” said Olmedo-Gonzalez. “Continuation of the installation would be a great way to visually connect all the ramps along the river.”

Jordan River Current was created by Colette Hosmer, a Santa Fe, New Mexico-based artist who is celebrated for her large-scale outdoor sculptures and environmental installations. According to the Salt Lake City Arts Council, Hosmer is pleased to connect the natural environment of the Jordan River Trail system with all users of the trail. 

“I have placed a half-dozen, site-specific, large-scale environmental works across the world, created to exist with bodies of water,” Hosmer said. “And now, Salt Lake has given me the rare opportunity to work with a major tributary—the historic Jordan River.”  λ