Location: Brookside Boulevard and Huntington Road, Kansas City, MO
Owner: Wornall Homestead Homes Association
Artist: Jac T. Bowen
Dates: Installed 1970, Restored 2011-12
Medium: Steel and copper
Around 1970, the Wornall Homestead neighborhood was in a bad way. Curbs and streets were crumbling, houses and garages were in bad state of disrepair, and banks had red-lined the houses east of Wornall Road. The residents of the Wornall Homestead Homes Association (WHHA) decided to do something about it. The WHHA worked with the City to establish a code enforcement program to address blighted properties. A benefit district was created and all curbs, gutters and sidewalks were replaced and streets were repaired and paved. Through these efforts, the Wornall Homestead neighborhood underwent a complete transformation. To commemorate the efforts and achievements, the WHHA commissioned a work of art from Jac T. Bowen, a local artist best known for the Sheaves of Wheat that hung from the Board of Trade building at 4800 Main Street. "Birds in Flight" was the result and it was placed on a traffic island at the intersection of Brookside Boulevard and Huntington Road.
The sculpture is a highly stylized representation of a number of birds in flight. The number of birds will vary from three to five depending on how the viewer perceives the work. It was made out of mild steel and copper. The birds are perched atop a steel pole that is ten feet tall and they move in the wind. It was originally set in the middle of an eight-sided planter bordered by recycled railroad ties and thickly planted with juniper spreaders.
In 2010, the WHHA saw that the sculpture was in need of repair and renovation. The A. Zahner Company of Kansas City was commissioned to restore the sculpture. Working with the WHHA and the artist, the steel elements were replaced with stainless steel and the sculpture was cleaned up and repaired. It was placed back on the traffic island at Brookside and Huntington, which had undergone some updates as well.