The North Coast Otters Public Arts Initiative has been completed over the Summer, with a treasure hunt and auction spanning from June to September.
North Coast Otters — a collaboration with North Coast Open Studios, a DreamMaker project of the Ink People Center for the Arts — was an ambitious collaboration of art and science, encouraging imagination and observation from our region’s rich creative community, celebrating life, water, and otters; supporting local businesses; and raising funds for student projects.
The project commissioned 108 unique pieces of Otter Art to be displayed at shops, galleries, schools, and other North Coast locations. Participating artists, including myself, decorated three-foot-tall otter sculptures for an educational art trail throughout Humboldt, Del Norte, Trinity, Mendocino, and Siskiyou counties, which were then auctioned off to their new homes in September 2021. The project encouraged community members to participate in the ongoing "citizen science" river otter records study by consistently reporting when and where wild river otters are observed throughout the North Coast region. The initiative arose from a desire to share what humans are learning about wild river otters with the community. Since 1999, HSU students have been collecting otter records from citizen volunteers as a means of tracking the quality of North Coast habitats. River otters, seen at all times of day in our area, have captured the attention of thousands.
Artists decorated their 3-foot tall otter sculptures during the fall and winter of 2019, with mediums ranging from oil and acrylic paint, clay and mosaic tile, wire, cloth, plastic trash and paper. In September 2021, after months of visits along the sculpture trail, the otters were auctioned off with the proceeds (over $100,000!) funding continued otter research and conservation projects. Poppy didn't make it to the auction, because she was adopted pre-auction outright for five-thousand dollars! This was a fun project to take part in, a great cause, and I hope Poppy has a fantastic life wherever she ends up <3