This artful flying fish tells the weather in Langley

The Langley Arts Fund commissioned “Weather Vane II” by Wayne Kangas for public art in Clyde Alley.

Metal scuptor Wayne Kangas made this fish-shaped weather vane out of 600 leftover stainless steel letters. (Langley Arts Fund)

Metal scuptor Wayne Kangas made this fish-shaped weather vane out of 600 leftover stainless steel letters. (Langley Arts Fund)

LANGLEY — The Village by the Sea now has a weather vane that looks like a fish thanks to the Langley Arts Fund.

“Weather Vane II,” by Bellingham sculptor Wayne Kangas, is a scrap metal sculpture made from leftover mirrored stainless steel. With the added height from its base, also made from stainless steel, the fish towers over passersby at 9 feet tall.

The weather vane was installed in Clyde Alley behind the Firehouse Glass Gallery in December.

The sculpture is made from hundreds of mirrored metal pieces that were leftover from the process of cutting out letters for the name of espresso machines. Kangas cut those letters into the shapes needed to make a fish.

“It’s got a mirror finish to it, so when the sun comes out, it throws these beams of sunlight everywhere,” Kangas said. “It changes colors.”

Kangas, 73, has been an artist all his life, creating works that range from stained glass to photography.

He began working with metal about seven years ago. “Weather Vane I” — Kangas’ only other public art piece — is installed at Hillcrest Park in Mount Vernon. He’s made other weather vanes, including one shaped like a rocket, but it’s the fish that get snapped up.

“It’s crazy, but everybody loves the fish,” he said.

More of Kangas’ work can also be found in Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park on Camano Island, including statues and hanging wall art.

Kangas likes to work with recycled materials because of the challenge to make art out of odd-shaped scraps.

“Those pieces just give me inspiration,” Kangas said. “A lot of times I’ll sit down, start playing with something and all of a sudden I get this ‘Wow, this is what I’m going to do.’”

It took Kangas about 40 hours to make the fish-shaped weather vane. The sculpture is equally balanced on both sides so it pivots with the wind.

It’s the fact that the sculpture is also a working weather vane that drew the Langley Arts Fund’s interest.

“We really liked the kinetic nature of the piece — the fact that it moves in the wind,” said Dan Wodjenski of the Langley Arts Fund. “When it’s sunny and it’s moving, it casts light around the area and that becomes an extension of the piece itself.”

The Langley Arts Fund works with Whidbey Island Arts Council and the Langley Arts Commission to invest in public art. Kangas’ fish is the group’s second commissioned sculpture.

The first was the 12-foot bronze sculpture “Hope the Whale” by Georgia Gerber. The whale, installed last summer, overlooks the waterfront on First Street.

Kangas said the Langley Arts Fund is considering moving “Weather Vane II” to First or Main streets. Although, right now his fish is at home in what has become an alleyway of artwork.

“We really like the idea of the movement, we really like the idea of its reflective qualities,” Wodjenski said. “We felt that it was an appropriate piece for a little seaside town like Langley.”

Herald features editor Sara Bruestle contributed to this report.

If you go

Wayne Kangas’ “Weather Vane II” is installed in the alley behind Callahan’s Firehouse Studio & Gallery, 179 Second Street, Langley.

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