Big Red

A famously migratory fish has become a permanent Bren School fixture this fall. The new arrival is Rufus Magnus (Big Red), a six-foot-long painted fiberglass replica of a steelhead trout, which will be mounted ten feet above the native grasses that grow between Bren Hall and the Marine Sciences Institute.

Prior to its arrival at UCSB, Rufus was part of this summer’s second annual Steelhead Festival. The event featured eight of the fish, each painted by a different local artist, installed along State Street in downtown Santa Barbara to raise awareness of the endangered California native, a member of the salmon family. Local artist and UCSB alumna Barbara McIntyre created Rufus Magnus in eye-catching Chinese red with gold leaf.

“In my mind, it had to be red to be noticed,” said McIntyre. “Also, I have a lot of cross-cultural references in my work, and red is prominent in Spanish culture and a good-luck color in Asian culture.”

The piece was commissioned jointly by the Bren School and the Marine Science Institute with funding from the Weeden Foundation, which addresses the adverse impact of growing human populations and overuse of natural resources on the biological fabric of the planet.

“You are hitting the mark in more ways than you know,” said Barbara Weeden Daugherty, who was responsible for directing the funds to the Bren School from the foundation her father funds. “My father is 87 years old and an avid trout fly fisherman. He has spent some of his most memorable times fishing in the Sierra.  He funds several conservation organizations that work to keep our western rivers wild, so he very much supports this funding.”

The sculpture also gives visual form to the Bren School’s growing partnership with the Community Environmental Council, which originated the Steelhead Festival, while the placement of Rufus Magnus – on land, near the ocean – will signify the fish’s dual life in freshwater and saltwater environments.