by Michael Singman-Aste
One solution to the unsustainable practice of finning, in which a live shark's fins are hacked off and the animal dumped back into the water, is a 4-inch-high, Levis-clad vinyl shark named Sametan. Our diminutive hero was spawned from a collaboration between Japanese toymaker Cometdebris and PangeaSeed, the Honolulu-based environmental organization that raises awareness for the conservation of sharks "and other marine species in peril."
The figurines, customized by more than 30 international artists -- including Frank Kozik, the creator of the popular "Labbit" designer toy -- are featured in the show "Sametan: Don't Tread on Me" at Spoke Art Gallery. The styles and attitude are broad, from Bay Area "Cakeland" artist Scott Hove's elaborate Aumakua deity to Dski One's Zissou Jaguar Sametan that nails Bill Murray's "The Life Aquatic" character down to his custom Adidas. Some are lighthearted, but the crudely stitched-on fins are a reminder of how serious the situation is: an estimated 100 million sharks killed annually and many species headed for extinction.
"Sametan: Don't Tread on Me" features "The Ocean Love Film Festival," 7-9 p.m. and runs March 29-30 with an opening reception Friday, 7-11 p.m.
at Spoke Art Gallery, 816 Sutter, S.F. Suggested $5-$10 donation; call (808) 397-7407 or visit www.pangeaseed.org.