Something Fishy Is Raising Money Print
News/Features - Local News
Tuesday, 16 August 2005 18:00
When budget cuts hit Rock Island Clean & Beautiful, the organization did something unusual: It engaged the artistic community for a public-art project. Sure, the 20 artistic catfish that have been gracing various sites in the Quad Cities are a fundraiser, but they’re also part of a larger vision to make the Quad Cities a more visually appealing place.

The effort culminates with the Catch-a-Catfish festival on Sunday at the plaza in the District of Rock Island. The event, which runs from noon to 7 p.m., features two bands, a live auction of 15 of the catfish, and a catfish cook-off featuring chefs from local restaurants. Admission to the event is $3 for individuals and $5 for families.

Rock Island Clean & Beautiful is celebrating its 20th anniversary and conducts clean-ups and educational programs. In recent years, it’s typically gotten $12,500 in state money that has been matched by the City of Rock Island. But because of the tight budget, there have been no state funds for the current and most recent fiscal years. (The city has maintained its funding level.)

So Gregory J. Moroni, executive director of Rock Island Clean & Beautiful, began the Catch-a-Catfish initiative last fall. Modeled after Chicago’s successful Cows on Parade program, Moroni solicited artists as well as sponsors for the catfish. The bulk of the $2,000 sponsorship fee goes to expenses, with artists getting between $400 and $500 for their work. Moroni said Rock Island Clean & Beautiful nets roughly $425 of each sponsorship fee.

Blue Cat Brew Pub sponsored the first catfish, by Mark Koster, late last summer. Three catfish found sponsor homes in Moline, two in Davenport, and 15 in Rock Island. A brochure showing the locations of the catfish is now available from Rock Island Clean & Beautiful (309-786-6441 extension 281 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), and these decorated fish will stay with their sponsors through September.

Participating artists include Corrine Smith, Peter Xiao, Lisa Mahar, Ralph Iaccarino, Shelly Voss, and Chuck Knudsen. The five-foot-tall fish are made of fiberglass and plaster.

Fifteen of the works will be available at Sunday’s auction. Moroni, who coordinated East Moline’s artistic-frog program two years ago, hopes that some of the catfish go for as much as $6,000. Auction proceeds will benefit Rock Island Clean & Beautiful and other not-for-profit organizations (such as Keep Scott County Beautiful and Living Lands & Waters), and the artists will also take a share of the auction price.

Moroni said his goal is for the Catch-a-Catfish program to compensate for the loss of $12,500 in state funding after expenses and after all the money is disbursed.
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