The Honda finches of Boren need a new home

(Image: Will Schlough)

It depends on what kind of person you are, but a batch of three giant plywood goldfinches might just be an offer you cannot refuse. The bright yellow birds, who once graced the exterior of the former Honda of Seattle dealership on Boren, need a new home. And according to artist Will Schlough and Urban ArtWorks, a local nonprofit that works with adjudicated youth and co-produced the work, that could be anyone with enough exterior wall space.

The Goldfinches were retrieved last year from the building before it was razed to make way for Washington State Convention Center’s more than $1.6 billion expansion. Local artist Will Schlough made the work in 2016. He covered the electric-blue building with images of three American Goldfinches pulling bright red ribbon that snaked around the building.


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Schlough and Urban ArtWorks director Kathleen Warren say they will donate the artwork to anyone who has exterior space for three 15-feet tall plywood Goldfinches. As long as the takers are also willing to have Schlough repaint the red ribbon, plus pay some of the installation costs. Warren estimates those costs at around $2.000.

“We will have to redesign the new placement and paint of the ribbons,” Warren said. “Will designed them specifically to respond to the building, so he’ll also respond to the birds’ new home.”

Schlough, a local maker of large-scale public artworks, designed the work in 2016 after the Capitol Hill Community Council asked the Washington State Convention Center to consider art to activate the then-empty former Honda dealership building facing the Hill.

Pine Street Group, development manager for the WSCC addition project, invited Urban ArtWorks and Schlough to cooperate on the project. Local youth helped the artist with painting the Goldfinches he’d cut from multiple pieces of plywood, as well as the red ribbon, which the group painted on the exterior as well as on plywood mounted to the building.

“The idea was to make the building a much part of the artwork as possible,” Schlough says. “The fact that the building was not in use made it easier to do unique things such as cover up doors, paint on the windows, and make something more dynamic than just filling up blank wall space.”

His primary goal, he says, was showing the (American) Goldfinches —Washington’s state bird— collaborating. Whether they are wrapping or unwrapping, he says, depends on your perspectives. Schlough also says he hopes to be able to incorporate the ribbon, also the official title of the artwork, in the new installation.

Ideally, Warren says, the new building is a couple of stories tall, so that the birds can fly around the building and “interact with each other.”

“But,” she adds, “We can make basically anything work, as long as the building’s bigger than the biggest bird.” One more caveat: the birds need to stay visible to the public. “We’re not hoping someone takes this work for free and then installs it in their private space. If people can walk by and enjoy it, that’s the ideal scenario.”

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