"Le Requin Agile" by Joanne Ehrich
    fetched $2,400 at charity auction

    San Jose Downtown Association
    SharkByte Art Project Links:

    SharkByte Art Street Map
    SharkByte Art Gallery of Sharks
    Shark gallery by Chris Utter on PBase
    Beat City Shark Gallery

    Courtesy of "The Cupertino Courier" March 13, 2002

    Local artists' sharks are auctioned off for charity


    They swam through, put a smile on many faces and now they're gone. They are the 100 life-sized fiberglass sharks put on display in downtown San Jose, and they were sold at an auction at McEnery Convention Center March 2.

    Each shark cost $3,500 to make and was decorated by a local artist. Longtime Cupertino resident Greg Hill created a shark named "Sun on your skin, ache in your bones," which sold at the auction for $3,500.

    The SharkByte art exhibit was the biggest undertaking for the San Jose Downtown Association, which also sponsors the music in the park series, the downtown ice rink and numerous other events, says Elrond Lawrence, the association's marketing director.

    The two goals of the project were to bring people downtown and to help local charities, he says. Many charities and nonprofits got involved with the project because they found out they would get 70 percent of the proceeds, he says. The other 30 percent will cover the charge of the exhibit.

    But the sharks hung around even longer than anticipated. The auction was originally planned for November but the poor economy and Sept. 11 tragedy affected ticket sales, Lawrence says. The first auction generated only 100 ticket purchases. However, the second time around, more than 500 tickets, at $50 apiece, were sold to the public. The ticket price included a champagne and dessert buffet, a program and an auction paddle.

    "Ticket sales were not as high as we expected in November," Lawrence says. "We sold five times as many tickets as we had sold before so we realized it was the right choice."

    Hill says the shark took "hundreds" of hours to create. As an artist who works mostly in steel and sculpture, the fiberglass shark was a deviation from the norm. Hill says he makes many sports figures and steel kinetic art. Often the figures engage in such activities as surfing and hurdling.

    Hill says the idea for the shark came from the philosophy, "the day in the sun when you win something and it takes a long time and a lot of work to get there." He says he has struggled as an artist and knows how it feels to work hard to make things work.

    Hill says he got the opportunity to study art at San Jose State University from a wrestling scholarship. He wrestled while at Cupertino High School, where he graduated in 1972, and was a CCS champion at De Anza College.

    The shark Hill created was on public display at the Park Center Plaza and then moved to the Compaq Center. A representative from Devcon Construction in Milpitas purchased the shark to display in their office building, he says.

    Hill says he got involved with the project because of his friend and sponsor, Carol Stroud. The charity that the money will go to is the Yosh Uchida Endowment Chair.

    More than 700 people attended the auction and the total amount raised at the auction was $257,900. The highest bid was $20,000 for a shark wearing a San Jose Sharks jersey, named, "Megabyte," which was sponsored by the hockey team.

    "The auction was exciting because it was the first time I saw the public look at my work and touch my work, which is why I keep doing it," Hill says.