Fond du Lac arts center celebrates sturgeon

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FOND DU LAC, Wis. (WBAY) - Sturgeon spearing and fine art don't seem like a likely combination, but Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts in Fond du Lac is bringing the two together for a one-of-a-kind exhibit.

A mobile of sturgeon art hangs from the ceiling of the Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts in Fond du Lac (WBAY photo)

Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts usually houses fine art and hosts fancy parties, but a new exhibit is different.

According to executive director Jacqui Corsi, "We really just wanted to celebrate Fond du Lac's culture and Lake Winnebago's culture. We're one of the few places you can do this, so we feel that's important."

The "Ancient Survivors" exhibit is all about sturgeon spearing, a Northeast Wisconsin rite of passage.

More than 125 pieces of art make up the exhibit, which is being billed as the largest collection of sturgeon artifacts in one location. Handmade decoys hang from the ceiling, almost giving visitors a feeling of being underwater.

"Green Bay Packers decoys and Folgers cans and bowling, there's a bowling pin up there. You see how creative people are," adds Corsi.

Homemade spears, nets and hooks and a record-breaking sturgeon help to tell the story. Artists' interpretation of the prehistoric fish, as well as local, national and even international artifacts round out the exhibit.

Corsi says, "We have a lot of equipment that they use, a lot of the history, so you can really not only see all of this but you'll learn a lot about sturgeon spearing as well."

And in the comfy confines of Thelma, it's a lesson learned out of the usual sturgeon spearing elements.

Curator Michael Wartgow says, "You can come into the warmth of this beautiful building that we have and experience sturgeon in a context that you wouldn't normally experience it in. So, there's an importance to what we've put up here. We're trying to draw attention to this in a real specific way and talk about the seriousness of it but at the same time have a little bit of fun."

The exhibit, which is free of charge, is open through March 2.

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