A Tale of Two Birds

This past summer I was approached by Susan Hogan, who, among her many titles, is a huge supporter of the arts in Wheeling. Susan told me she was spearheading a project that would take an empty lot in downtown Wheeling, and turn it into a mini-sculpture park. She referred to her project as a “peekaboo” park do to the fact that the space will be viewed through holes in a facade, not unlike walls surrounding a construction site.


The first original bird sketches that Susan looked at.


Susan showed me a couple pieces of artwork that she hoped to have cut out of metal and installed in the proposed park. She asked if I had any work that she might also consider for using in the space. I showed her a sketchbook I had nearby and she immediately connected to a page of bird sketches. (The birds were something I was going to do in tin a few months prior, but I had changed the design.)

Susan asked if I could work up one or two birds based on the ones in the sketchbook. I said I would, and so began the  bird project.


One of several re-worked bird sketches.


Now what I didn’t  tell Susan was this: I really didn’t like those birds she saw in my sketchbook. So I revamped them and showed them to Susan at our next meeting.


And I tried more versions....



....and I even tried birds that would have wings made from signs....


But Susan was not crazy about these “new birds”. She liked those birds she first saw in my sketchbook. I agreed to try again and we set up another time to meet.


So it was back to the drawing board, and trying to capture the feel of those first sketches....



....and it's hard trying to get motivated about a design that you just don't care for, but I kept pressing forward....



And the winner is.....


At our next meeting, Susan was happy with the image above, based on those original sketches that she saw several weeks earlier. Then she told me she needed one more… “We really should have a pair!” she said.

Susan was happy and so we sent the images to be cut out of steel. Now all this time I’m still not really feeling great about these birds, although Susan and my wife, Chris, really liked them.

This past Saturday Susan called and said she the birds were cut! She was at the site of the park and had the birds there. I told her Chris and I would be right down.


Susan greets us at the facade of the park.


The park’s facade was in place, but not yet completed. Once finished, viewing ports would be cut into the metal wall at a variety of heights.


The partially completed facade at the park.




Susan proceeds to present the freshly cut birds....



....and here they are!


I must tell you that I was totally pumped! Seeing something that began as not much more than a doodle, and now here it was in steel, well, I now felt completely different about those birds!


The negative shape!



Chris and I with the birds.


The birds will be set on mounts in the new mini sculpture park, and will be joined by metal art works by at least three other artists when the project is completed. My thanks to Susan Hogan, TK Innovations, Hays Landscape Architecture Studio, and all the “unknowns” who are playing a part in making this happen. (I will post an update when the park is completed and all the art is installed.)




1 Response to “A Tale of Two Birds”

  1. 1 Kristen Colebank
    October 16, 2010 at 1:35 pm


    I read the profile of you in the latest WV Living magazine and went in search of more information. I love your blog. The travels of the FestivALL “F” made my day. Thanks for sharing, and I’ll happily join the half-dozen folks who regularly check in to read the latest.

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