Fishes of the Salish Sea, a new book from UW Press, has supposedly been in production for four decades. Authors and Ted Pietsch and James Orr have been researching the fish in our region, studying their appearances and characteristics down to practically the molecular level. Orr and Pietsch have been collaborating with Joe Tomelleri, a painter who illustrated every single one of the 260 fish featured in the book.
It's not often anymore that you see serious academic texts combined with a more abstract visual art like painting. Photography is generally the only accepted visual medium in science texts, but it's hard to capture meaningful details in photographs of sea life, which is why this book serves as such a unique blend of artistry and science.
This Saturday, UW Press and the creators of Fishes of the Salish Sea invite you to Arundel Books in Pioneer Square to launch the book into the world. Arundel's copy for the event refers to the book as an "important" and "extraordinary feat of scholarship, devotion to the natural world, and exquisite artistry." Tomelleri's artwork will be on display at Arundel for the next two months, and signed prints of his work will be for sale.
Okay, but why does a book about fish matter? Well, honestly, because of climate change those fish might not be around for much longer, so while this book was intended as a work of serious scholarship it might serve as a memory bank for future generations who have lived through a Great Extinction.
But I don't want to be such a Negative Nancy. This book is a huge accomplishment, and a beautiful piece of art. Why not celebrate its birth with the creators who wrote and illustrated it, and the staff who helped bring it into the world? You don't get the opportunity to celebrate the culmination of 40 years of work every day.
Arundel Books, 212 1st Ave S, https://www.facebook.com/events/2344379182442622/, 6 pm, free.