Salty’s iconic hanging fish statue, “Saltina,” has blessed the Gulfport drinking spot at 5413 Shore Blvd. for more than eight years. Now, with help from an LED lighting pioneer, she’s getting a rainbow makeover.
For 40 years, worked in the world of LED lighting, creating glowing screens for companies like Disney and EPCOT.
Following a partial retirement in Gulfport, Paonessa is thinking a little more local, and in the spirit of Gulfport Pride, revamped Salty’s mascot. Paonessa had just a couple of days to crack his fingers and add a string of rainbow lights for the event on Saturday, May 29.
“It’s not the magic I really wanted to do, but I had two days,” Paonessa said.
Eventually, he wants to make Saltina a skin that can change colors and project a screen of images on her body, all through the technology of LED lights.
“Saltina is back hanging up; right now what you see is a LED rope accenting her,” Paonessa said.
Retiring from LED
In 1984, long before Paonessa knew that Gulfport existed, he was struck by the emerging technology of LED.
At the first sight of a standard black and red “open” sign, he uprooted his life and dove into working on entertainment projects that required LED touches throughout the country.
Most notably, he worked on the glowing EPCOT globe, installed in 1999, which at the time was a $2 million project.
Today, it costs about $10,000 to install the same effect, said the artist.
According to Paonessa, overseas manufacturing cut costs and put most of the LED industry in the U.S. out of business.
“It’s virtually impossible to compete with how cheap this is now,” Paonessa said. “I still love the technology, and like everything else, you need artists to do it right.”
See Paonessa’s work at directviewled.com/home.html.