A rendering of an art installation proposed for the walkway overlooking Blake Skating Pond in Yarmouth. Artist John Bowdren is will use residents’ input to Contributed / Yarmouth Public Arts Committee

A Pownal sculptor commissioned to create a public installation overlooking Yarmouth’s Blake Skating Pond said he hopes his work will help connect viewers to nature.

Sculptures of swifts finished with gold leaf by Pownal artist John Bowdren. Contributed / John Bowdren

If the Yarmouth Town Council approves the project, John Bowdren’s cast in bronze birds in flight will be placed along the path connecting Main Street and Route 1. Five to seven birds will be mounted on 6- to 10-foot steel poles as early as this fall near the pond behind Key Bank.

Through his artwork, he provides a focal point so viewers slow down and take in not only the piece itself but also its environment, Bowdren said.

“I aim to suggest the freedom of flight that I enjoy so much from observing the swifts, tree and barn swallows I see in the area,”  said Bowdren, who also specializes in coastal paintings. “In the warm months, I hope that the people of Yarmouth will enjoy the birds as they walk and bike through town, and in the winter months, the gold or platinum leaf finish creates a nice highlight, almost a musical note, in the environment and a reminder of the return of the birds in spring.”

The artwork will cost between $23,000 and $26,000, which will be raised through private donations and business sponsorships, according to Yarmouth Public Art Committee Co-chairperson Linda Horstmann.

The committee is asking residents to weigh in on whether the birds should be swallows or swifts and if they should be finished with gold leaf, platinum leaf or patina. An online survey is available through the end of June on Yarmouth Arts Alliance’s Facebook page; paper surveys are available at Merrill Memorial Library and at Bath Savings Bank at 424 U.S. Route 1.


Then, Horstmann said, the next steps will be to finalize the design and present it to the Town Council for approval in mid-July. Fundraising would begin in July and she hopes to see the sculpture erected by fall.

The public survey will also ask residents what other types of public art they would like to see in town and will gauge interest in attending a forum on public art and other Yarmouth Arts Alliance efforts.

Public art brings people to town, Horstmann said.

“Hopefully, they shop here and maybe are interested in moving here,” Horstmann said. “We see lots of advantages to public art. It opens your mind and gets you thinking.”

Yarmouth Economic Development Director Scott LaFlamme, the committee’s town advisor, said public art “helps build a sense of place and creates delightful little nuggets throughout the community that folks can react to and form opinions on; it helps create a well-rounded living and working atmosphere.”

Bowdren’s birds will be the most recent in a series of public artworks added to the Yarmouth landscape. Last summer, the granite sculpture “Cloaked Figure” was donated to the alliance and installed between the Main Street Bridge and Merrill Memorial Library. In 2019, a sculpture called “Night” was donated to the town and is now on display at the Yarmouth History Center.

The committee’s efforts to bring public art to Yarmouth are ongoing. Once Bowdren’s project is completed, it plans to bring artwork to the village and Royal River Park.

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