In the early 1800s, when Japanese fishermen wished to record the size and characteristics of the fish they caught, there were no iPhones or cameras. So they found a unique way to actually record their fish. These fishermen coated their fish with a Japanese calligraphy ink called sumi. The fish was then wrapped with rice paper and gently rubbed, making an exact impression of the fish on the paper. Because the ink is non-toxic, the meat remains edible. Thus, the art of gyotaku was born. The word gyotaku comes from two Japanese words: “Gyo,” meaning fish, and “taku,” meaning rubbing.
Frank Ferrante, an artist with a studio at Punta Gorda’s Artisans Atelier, practices gyotaku. Originally from New York, where he earned a degree in marine biology, Frank accepted a position at Mote Marine in Sarasota where his grandparents lived. At Mote he worked with the sea creatures he loved, primarily in the snook hatchery. To this day Frank hates seeing snook being caught. “They’re like my babies,” he says.
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