It’s a bird…it’s a plane…No, wait. It’s a bird….in a box.

I was out riding my bike over the weekend in the Metro Parks. It was early in the morning and still cool. The sky was overcast; typical Cleveland gray. The green of the leaves and the undergrowth was cool and blue-green. Everything was still. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of the most intense orange. It was electric. It shot past me, wobbled, and came to rest on a branch beneath some leaves. I don’t recall having ever seen an oriole out in the wild before. It sat there briefly on that delicate branch, his weight making it bob. His plummage was a shock amid the cool bluish green surroundings. He rested for a bit and was off like a shot. I tried to follow him but he was gone as suddenly as he arrived. The chance meeting between me and this little bird was perfect. The color, the brevity, the simplicity…

Some birds have found their way into my art. Red winged black birds, a childhood favorite, hold a special place. I have a certain affection for birds, for flying things in general, I suppose. I hate to fly but once I’m in the air I’ll look out the window the whole trip. I’ve never gotten over the surreal un-naturalness of being above the clouds. I like flying kites, too. I like to get a couple of cheapo plastic kites like I used to fly when I was a kid…the ones with the pictures of cartoon characters on them or whatever (my current fliers are Optimus Prime and Iron Man), and just fly the heck out of them. They are all torn up and taped and the strings are knotted. Cheap things I should toss out but they still have a few sunday afternoons left in them. I get as excited flying them now as I did as a kid.

When I was little and we would go to the mall I had to stop at the pet store to see the parrots. They had a blue and a red Mackaw. The blue one did tricks and the red one could talk.

At the kid’s shoe store, the one with the big tugboat in the middle of it that you could play on, they had a magpie….at least I think it was a magpie. I remember it as a black bird, like a crow, with yellow stripes around it’s eyes. It would repeat what you said. If it wasn’t a magpie don’t tell me. I want to remember that it was….

I like birds, I think, the way Joseph Cornell liked birds. I think it has something to do with kites and magpies.

So… I am taking a class at the Cleveland Institute of Art and we are exploring the box as an art object. For homework we had to make a work from a found object. The oriole showed up just as I was at the end of my tether (most of the things I had been working on just did not feel right).  Thanks little birdy…..          (You can click on the image to enlarge, then click again for a close up)

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~ by Kelson Barber on June 17, 2011.

3 Responses to “It’s a bird…it’s a plane…No, wait. It’s a bird….in a box.”

  1. You amaze me. It’s funny how things from your childhood always remain in your heart. Who ever thought your children would teach you. Thanks!

  2. The birds name was Corkey and I loved going to talk to him too. I really like your matchbox, finally something that won’t give kids nightmares.

  3. Creepily found this wordpress and read this. It was really good & I wish you would write a book. 🙂

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