Salmon Run

Background Information

1982, Christopher Keene. 10'h x 10'w x 6'd. 515 S. Figueroa Street
Salmon Run is the only free standing outdoor sculpture in downtown depicting animals. It portrays Kodiak bears fishing for salmon while a cub, which slightly resembles a pudgy baby, hangs precariously on a ledge at the rear. The bears' features and proportions are slightly exaggerated and the work is elevated by an 8' pedestal to make it easy to read for people driving by in a car.

Albert C. Martin and Associates, the architects of the 20-story building, and Manufacturers Life Insurance Company, the developers of the building, invited three artists to submit proposals for a public art installation. The Toronto-based developers wanted a Canadian artist as well as a Canadian theme for the project. They also wanted a conservative work and rejected Keene's initial proposal for a fountain with a laser light.(1) Manulife later accepted Keene's design for "Salmon Run" based on a maquette he created. According to the developer, the work symbolizes its "commitment to energy and natural resources."(2)

The architects selected the site for the work before Keene received the commission. Keene used data on light patterns and wind pressure at the site in designing the work. Based on his maquette, Keene made a full size model with a clay and wax material. Latex molds were fashioned from the model and used to cast 30 epoxy, resin and bronze sections. Unlike the majority of Keene's works, which are cast by the lost wax process, "Salmon Run" was fabricated by welding.(3)


1 Interview with Christopher Keene by Michael Several, July 25, 1988.

2 "Ceremony Marks Manulife Opening," Downtown News, June 22, 1982, p.4.

3 Interview, op. cit.

The text has been provided courtesy of Michael Several, Los Angeles, March 1999.

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