The birds are coming.

That was the key message of TempoArt’s Catalyst fundraiser March 18 at Apres, where commissioned artists Donna Dodson and Andy Moerlein shared their plans to install a pair of 20-foot-tall white egret sculptures at the Back Cove trailhead.

Dodson and Moerlein, also known as The Myth Makers, have installed 75 larger-than-life avian creations across the country and in Switzerland, Taiwan and Vietnam. In 2012, they installed “The Sentinel,” a 15-foot-tall sapling-and-paint raven, at Gilsland Farm in Falmouth. Now, thanks to the Portland nonprofit focused on temporary public art, The Myth Makers are creating bamboo birds large enough that anyone exploring the Back Cove can pass through their legs.

“They will be ephemeral,” Dodson said. “They’ll have a presence that will fade depending on the light and the weather.”

The piece will be titled “Dancing for Joy (By the Will of the People).” On a site walk on the Back Cove trail, the sculptors were inspired by egret pairs – which, as Moerlein says, “dance, cackle and make all kinds of great noises.” The second half the title is in celebration of Maine being the first state to ratify same-sex marriage by popular vote.

To bring the egrets’ dance to life, guests at the TempoArt fundraiser were given white paper cutouts of feathers to wave as they listened to a soundtrack of egret calls – which, amplified, sound like something from “Jurassic Park.” Against this other worldly backdrop, four contemporary dancers in white – Holly Taylor, Liz Mulkey, Kristen Stake and Hannah Wasielewski – performed strikingly birdlike choreography.


A community “opening” for “Dancing for Joy” is planned for 5-6 p.m. June 13, with performances by Maine Academy of Music (rain date June 14). On June 15, the Myth Makers will host a free workshop called “Discovering Creating of Building with Bamboo” from 10 a.m. to noon.

Currently, three other TempoArt installations are up. “Carousel Cosmo” (2023) by Chris Miller is on the Western Promenade until November. “Beneath the Forest, Beneath the Sea” (2022) by Pamela Moulton is at Payson Park until May. “Gathering Stones,” the 2020 Jesse Salisbury installation, was acquired as part of the city of Portland’s permanent public art collection and remains on the Eastern Promenade.

“Our pieces are installed for two years, but some have a life beyond that,” said Alice Spencer, the nonprofit’s founder and board chair.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at

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