The Flock of Finns return to their roost at Waterfront Park
The Flock of Finns, a colorful gathering of 28 fanciful metal bird sculptures based on original artworks by Louisville folk artist Marvin Finn, have returned to their permanent roosting place at Waterfront Park. The Flock have been on sabbatical in Oberlin, Ohio, since May 2014.
The Flock received a warm welcome from Mayor Greg Fischer and representatives of Metro’s Public Art Initiative, the Commission on Public Art (COPA), the Waterfront Development Corporation, and the public. In honor of the occasion, the first grade class from Lincoln Elementary Performing Arts School provided a short program, which included an enthusiastic rendition of the Chicken Dance. Steam Exchange provided its mobile printmaking station for attendees to make free commemorative posters of the event.
“Strong and creative public art is a key element in creating a vibrant, authentic city that people want to live in and visit and the Flock of Finns is one of our most loved pieces of public art,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “We are happy to have a dedicated Commission on Public Art to advise for the caring of our public art collection that brings so much to our city, both culturally and economically.”
The Finns were created in 2001 as a public art initiative during the administration of Mayor Dave Armstrong. They were placed in various public venues around the city before finally landing in their permanent home at Waterfront Park in July 2002. By spring 2014, the colorful birds had begun to weather, with rust blisters and fading paint appearing in their once-bright plumage, and Metro and the Commission on Public Art (COPA) made the decision to have the sculptures professionally conserved at the McKay Lodge Fine Arts Conservation Laboratory in Ohio.
The conservation process included sandblasting the Flock down to their original steel surfaces, repriming them and then repainting them with a more durable paint that is easier to maintain and should last for 20 years. Conservators used digital photos and color matching to painstakingly replicate the original paint surface, ensuring that the original appearance of each bird was precisely preserved.
“We’re happy to have the Flock of Finns back where they belong, welcoming folks to Waterfront Park,” said WDC president David Karem. “They are a celebration of life and color – you can’t help but smile when you see them. The Finns are a true community treasure.”
The Flock honors the work of Marvin Finn, the late artist whose urban folk art is known and respected internationally. His brightly colored and patterned works reside in collections around the world. The large metal flock at Waterfront Park is made up of re-creations of Finn’s smaller hand-carved or saw-cut and painted wooden pieces. As part of the initiative, dozens of owners of Finn originals lent their pieces to Armstrong’s Art Advisory Committee, and enlargements made of half-inch thick steel were fabricated and painted by artist Melissa Wilson with the assistance of David Thrasher over a period of about six months.
Finn died on January 29, 2007, at the age of 89