“Birds of a Different Feather”

Submitted by Marjorie Pitz

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Client: Minneapolis Art in Public Places

Location: Minneapolis, MN, United States

Completion date: 2016

Artwork budget: $150,000

Project Team

Artist and Landscape Architect

Marjorie Pitz

Martin & Pitz Assoc., Inc.

Artist and Fabricator

Ben Janssens

SignMinds

Ceramic Artist

Lori Greene

Overview

Birds of a Different Feather stretches along 8 blocks of Nicollet Street, a commercial corridor in a culturally mixed neighborhood. The theme is derived by twisting the old saying, “Birds of a feather flock together”, into the new paradigm, “Birds of a different feather flock together” to acknowledge the rich and congenial diversity found here.
Birds migrate around the world to seek good habitat, as have immigrants and refugees who have migrated to Nicollet Street. Birds that migrate resonate with many cultures, and fun birds—like the flamingo, native to Somalia—are enjoyed everywhere.
The streetscape was developed in conjunction with a two-year road re-construction project. A bevy of 12 birds moves down the street, short and tall, serving as stools, benches and gateway icons. Although this is a streetscape project, most birds occupy private property adjacent to the sidewalk, with agreements between property owners and Minneapolis related to care, maintenance and liability.

Goals

"Birds of a Different Feather" adds color and a sense of discovery for pedestrians—a request from local businesses. Every bird is unique, which satisfies the community’s appreciation of diversity. There was a clear directive to make the art functional, as well as to activate street life. The community requested an opportunity to participate in the creation of the art.

Process

An Advisory Committee represented business and residential interests, and the diversity of the neighborhood. Themes were explored, and sites were prioritized by this committee. After selecting birds as the concept, models and drawings were made of possible installations. Much time was spent finding the sites and working with property owners. Ceramic wings were designed by school children and assembled at community workshops under the direction of a ceramic artist.