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Sculpture at Houston library wins national public art award

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HOUSTON – A piece of public art is making a nationwide statement for Houston.

Dixie Friend Gay's Books of a Feather is on display at the Alice M. Young Neighborhood Library at 5260 Griggs Road. It is three large birds made of steel and concrete. The birds range in size from 12 to 15 feet tall. Each bird is covered with hand-placed, multi-colored glass and ceramic mosaic tiles that shimmer in the light.

You can find out more about the artist at her website, DixieFriendGay.com.

"'Books of a Feather' draws parallels between the physical flight of birds and the flights of imagination found in books,” Gay said. “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.”

Chosen by public art experts, Gay's piece was recognized as one of the most compelling public art pieces in the nation 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. It's the 17th year the nonprofit organization 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,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “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.”

Gay is a Houston-based artist. Her career spans three decades and encompasses public art, sculpture, painting and drawing. In 2003, Gay was recognized as Texas Artist of the Year by the Texas Commission for the Arts.

“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.”

A photo af Dixie Friend Gay is below: