Image: Amy Kinkead

Drawing parallels between the physical flight of birds and the flights of imagination that burst from the pages of books, Dixie Friend Gay’s nationally award-winning sculpture took roost outside the Alice McKean Young Neighborhood Library in 2017 as part of the city’s feathering of its public art nest. So fly, right?

Like the three Greek muses of theater, a trio of plucky birds welcome visitors to the library. To bring her gigantic birds to life (they needed a lift to install them), the Houston-based artist covered the 15-foot concrete and stainless-steel bodies with thousands of pieces of multi-colored glass and ceramic mosaic tiles, creating arcs of colors and patterns that capture the free movement of feathered plumage rippling in the wind.

Not only do the birds sparkle and shimmer with different iridescent hues, each of the Gulfgate neighborhood library’s friendly fowls has a different crest atop its head, which, along with its startlingly anthropomorphic eyes, gives it its own unique personality. Tying in the literary theme, tiles hand-stamped with bird-related book titles, including One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Pelican Brief, and The Trumpet of the Swan, wrap around the birds in ribbon-like fashion. Talk about fancy flights.

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