Bronze Birds, Books and Mass Transit Share Space in North Scottsdale

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Local artist Mary Lucking will speak about the kinds of books a bird might be interested in reading when she helps dedicate her latest public art project, “Birdie Umwelt,” with Scottsdale Public Art in front of the Mustang Library and Mustang Transit Center at 10101 N. 90th St., Scottsdale, this Friday, May 17, 2019, beginning at 10 a.m.

The transit center project, which she first became involved with in 2013, includes a series of fist-sized house finches made out of wax and cast in bronze. The birds sit on bronze books, looking at pages made of stainless steel underneath. Each page is the replica from a specific book, words or images embossed on top. Twenty of these life-sized sculptures are scattered about the property, mounted on boulders, benches and retaining walls for locals to find and enjoy. Included is a birdhouse made to replicate the building design of the library and a footpath between the library and transit shelters sandblasted with feathers and birds, mimicking shadows of the living creatures that inhabit the area.

“I’m really interested in who we spend time with in nature, in this case, it’s birds. For this project, I wanted to know what would they be interested in,” says Lucking, a Phoenix-based artist known for her work at other transit centers throughout the Valley. “I checked the bookshelves at the library and received suggestions from patrons for ideas,” she says. A page from the most widely suggested book, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems is included. Each page offers a connection with something a bird might be interested in knowing more about. They are also readable so you can not only imagine but also read along with the bird, figuratively speaking, of course.

“My favorite part of the project was getting to go to the library and explore sections I wouldn’t ordinarily think of, like the cookbook section and the science section. And I read more poetry than I normally would.”

Lucking hopes once you see the sculptures that you walk away with “some delight and something different to think about…a personal connection with these spaces.”

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