Bird mural's recognition surprises organizers
New art added last summer to an old bridge has won an award from the Columbus Landmarks Foundation.
That the 100-year-old Indianola Avenue overpass is historic and the Ohio Bird Mural would draw the attention of the preservation organization hadn't even occurred to organizers of the project, said Eliza Ho of the nonprofit ALTernative.
Ho served as project manager for the bird mural, which features oversized images of native species painted by Short North artist Clint Davidson. Ho's husband, architect Tim Lai, was the designer.
Those individuals, along with the Clintonville Area Commission, Friends of the Ravines, Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed, Glen Echo Civic Association, Hudson Street Hooligans Pub and Lower Olentangy Urban Arboretum, were recognized by the foundation late last month with the James L. Keyes President's Award.
"This preservation award is selected annually by Landmarks' president of the board to honor a person, neighborhood, community group or business for an initiative that has significantly fostered the cause of historic preservation or improved the built environment, thereby enhancing the quality of life in our community," according to the announcement of the honor.
"The underlying excellence and interest from the preservation community ... was the incredible collaboration of neighborhood groups," the foundation's executive director, Kathy Mast Kane, said last week.
"We were very surprised," Ho said. "We didn't nominate ourselves, so it was a total surprise for us. It was very nice recognition."
The historic-preservation aspect of the mural wasn't front and center when the project was conceived and carried through by a neighborhood committee that, in addition to Ho and Lai, included Kelly Barrett, David Brown, Blake Compton, Marley Greiner, Anita Kwan, Lydia Warren and Amy Youngs.
"It just happened that way," Ho said. "Our original intent was to beautify the neighborhood and discourage graffiti, so we didn't think too much about the bridge or it being a historic structure.
"The mural helps to preserve the structure and also to enliven that space. They feel like it's kind of helping the neighbors come together to deter graffiti and stop crime and things like that."
The mural, part of Glen Echo Park, features oversized paintings of 35 bird species regularly seen in the ravine. It was completed in July.
"The mural is the first step towards a transformation of the underpass and the Glen Echo Park into a bird sanctuary," the award presentation reads.