Silas Finch atop Miya’s Sushi

Aero Nautical

New Haven’s the kind of place where you can walk down the street and find a higher calling. “Dan? Dan!” mine went yesterday from the roof of Miya’s Sushi, where mad-scientist sculptor Silas Finch was finishing his latest assemblage.

Hanging on the right side of the installation, which spans some 20 feet across the top of the restaurant, is a repaired rowboat, now with vintage newspaper cutouts collaged all over its lacquered hull. Snaking back to the left are two long, tentacular oars made primarily of welded, hand-curved aluminum piping. Painted to look like wood, the pipes run parallel most of the way, then diverge for the last few feet, causing their stylized wooden “spoons,” or blades, to splay. Finch says the idea is to evoke the ocean, of course, but also to create a fantastical giant squid/sea monster effect, which fits right in with one of Miya’s signature moves: putting actual sea monsters—invasive species, that is—on the menu.

sponsored by

Yale School of Music

The sculpture doesn’t have an official title yet, but it does have several names attached to it. Master boat rigger Dave Campaniello engineered the custom system of brackets and wires that keeps the work suspended in the air. But he also got artsy, painting the faux woodgrain onto the metal oar shafts. Artist Rafael Cornier fabricated many of the pieces for Campaniello’s suspension system, also welding the oar piping together. Finch, for his part, came up with the overall design, executed most of the work on the boat and, as he was doing yesterday, added finishing touches.

That’s the simplified way of putting it, anyway. In reality, “all three of us were there for pretty much every moment” of the six-month project, Finch says. Eager to share top billing with Campaniello and Cornier, he also credits Miya’s head chef Bun Lai for taking a chance on the project. Meanwhile, Finch says, local lighting designer Jamie Burnett, who supplied the sparse yellow underlighting now gracing the installation, is planning to give the piece a more involved treatment sometime in the near future.

For the moment, minimalist lighting seems to work just fine, especially at dusk, when the sky provides a deep-ocean blue and—like real giant squids, who are shy and rarely sighted—the woody two-tentacled creature atop Miya’s gets to keep some of its secrets.

Awning Installation at Miya’s
68 Howe St, New Haven (map)
Miya’s Sushi | Silas Finch

Written and photographed by Dan Mims.

More Stories