Vandalized bird will fly again

sculpture: Bronze falcon found broken, tossed into the water in Olympia

jdodge@theolympian.comJuly 17, 2012 

One of the 15 sculptures on public display as part of the Percival Landing Plinth Project was vandalized late Friday night or early Saturday morning.

A bronze sculpture of a flying peregrine falcon, titled “Windstar,” by noted Olympia sculptor Ross Matteson was snapped off its metal frame and tossed into Budd Inlet next to Percival Landing.

Fortunately, the 20-pound piece of art was recovered at low tide Saturday by a city maintenance worker who was alerted by a citizen of something unusual in the water, said Stephanie Johnson, city arts and events manager for the Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation Department.

Matteson retrieved the valuable piece of art from Johnson on Monday and returned it to his art studio for repairs. He vowed to have the sculpture back on display by week’s end.

“It’s hard to attach any intelligence or motive to this outrageous act of aggression,” Matteson said as he set about rebuilding the bird’s right wing and beak. “I’m very grateful that the falcon was recovered.”

“Windstar,” which Matteson created in 1997, has been on public display for several years in Wenatchee and the San Juan Islands, always without incident.

Johnson said vandalism to public art in Olympia is extremely rare. “I sure hope this was just a random thing,” she said.

The yearlong sculpture exhibit includes a public vote from July 21 through Aug. 31. The city will then purchase the top vote-getter and place the piece on permanent display at a location to be determined by the city arts commission.

Matteson has placed a value of $10,000 on Windstar, but said the price is deeply discounted as a show of gratitude for all the city does to promote public art.

“I refuse to be angered by these vandals,” Matteson said. “I hate their ignorance, but feel sorry for anyone who has not been nourished with a better understanding of art.”

Matteson encouraged the public to stroll Percival Landing and show support for the art and the artists.

The artist, who is also an avid falconer, said “Windstar” is well-situated on Percival Landing against the backdrop of the Port of Olympia crane that has served the past nine years as a nest for a pair of peregrine falcons.

“The focal point in my sculpture, the peregrine falcon, helps viewers to remember or become aware of the fact that we have peregrine falcons living in the Port of Olympia,” he said.

The vandalism remained under investigation by Olympia police. 360-754-5444

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