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Houston-Based Artist Wins National Public Art Award for Sculpture at City Library Branch

Dixie Friend Gay

June 15, 2018 -- Mayor Sylvester Turner congratulates and celebrates the honor given to public art project Books of a Feather by Dixie Friend Gay (above) by the Americans for the Arts through the Public Art Network Year in Review program, the only national program that specifically recognizes the most compelling public art.

Chosen by public art experts, the roster of selected projects was unveiled this morning at Americans for the Arts’ Annual Convention in Denver. This is the 17th year that Americans for the Arts, the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America, has recognized public art works.

“Public art is essential to the DNA of our global city because it has the potential to enrich the lives of everyone,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner (below, with Books of a Feather). “Dixie Friend Gay's monumental work commissioned for a brand new high-tech library in southeast Houston delights the imagination and her collaboration with librarians to include book titles on the birds’ wings showcases her artistic practice.  We are proud to have her artwork in the city’s collection.”

Commissioned by the City of Houston for the Alice McKean Young Neighborhood Library (5260 Griggs Road, Houston, TX 77021), Books of a Feather consists of three large scale birds made of steel and concrete ranging in size from 12 to 15 feet, each covered with hand-placed, multi-colored glass and ceramic mosaic tiles that shimmer and sparkle when caught by the light, as well as hand-made tiles stamped with book titles that include words associated with birds and flight.

Books of a Feather draws parallels between the physical flight of birds and the flights of imagination found in books,” said Dixie.  “The free movement of birds stretches our imagination toward a world that exists beyond our vision, just as explorations in the library open our minds to new and unfamiliar views.”

The artwork is the result of 18 months of collaboration with a variety of partners including Houston Arts Alliance, which is under contract to manage Civic Art projects for the city.

Dixie Friend Gay is a nationally acclaimed Houston-based artist whose career spans three decades and encompasses public art, sculpture, painting and drawing. Her work is fueled by an awareness of the natural world and its ability to produce new states of awareness and connection. In 2003, the Texas Commission for the Arts recognized Friend Gay as Texas Artist of the Year.

“The best of public art can challenge, delight, educate, and illuminate. Most of all, public art creates a sense of civic vitality in the cities, towns, and communities we inhabit and visit,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “As these Public Art Network Year in Review selections illustrate, public art has the power to enhance our lives on a scale that little else can. I congratulate the artists and commissioning groups for these community treasures, and I look forward to honoring more great works in the years to come.”

Books of a Feather