- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 20, 2015

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - The “flying people” are up in the air.

But Eugene Airport staff might have a small rebellion on their hands, particularly from Eugene’s arts community, if they indeed go forward with permanently removing the much-beloved art installation known as “Flight Patterns.”

As rumors began swirling over the weekend that the artwork - black-and-white photo cutouts of local folks in flying poses, created by the late David Joyce - was preparing for departure, even Mayor Kitty Piercy herself chimed in:

“I hate this!!” Piercy posted in a Facebook comment on Saturday.

The airport is in discussions with city Cultural Services staff and with the David Joyce Gallery at Lane Community College about what to do with the artwork, which will need to be removed soon because of the airport’s $16.8 million expansion project, Assistant Airport Director Cathryn Stephens said Monday.

The two-year expansion project began last fall and is scheduled for completion by the end of next summer, she said.

Possibilities for the artwork include:

. Moving only the three panels directly affected by the construction work, or moving the entire project.

. Displaying the pieces at the David Joyce Gallery at LCC, instead of storing the pieces during the remainder of construction.

. Permanently moving the artwork to LCC - where Joyce, who died of cancer at 57 in 2003, was a longtime art instructor - if a new wall configuration at the city-operated airport won’t allow for proper display.

Stephens cautioned that other than moving the three panels affected by construction, no final decision has been made.

But it’s not likely that only part of the artwork will stay up at the airport during construction, Stephens said.

“We think that’s the best way to handle it since it is one work of art,” she said of removing all of the artwork.

Piercy said she sent a message to both Stephens and Airport Director Tim Doll on Monday.

“I think it’s very important for the ‘flying people’ to stay in our airport,” Piercy said. “They’re iconic and part of our art history.

“One of the things I love about our airport is it’s unique, and it’s very different than a lot of other airports.”

Stephens said Joyce’s widow, Kacey Joyce, is acting as a consultant on the project to find a new home for “Flight Patterns” - installed in 1989 and refurbished in 2012 - or to get the artwork reinstalled after the expansion is complete.

Kacey Joyce could not be reached for comment Monday by The Register-Guard. But she was quoted in a Saturday posting by former Register-Guard arts reporter Bob Keefer on his Eugene Art Talk blog.

“The airport people have decided to let the art ‘fly,’?” she said. “I would like to know what the public thinks about this decision, but know that the pieces are owned by the airport - their decision in the end - not mine or anyone else’s.

“This project, done so many years ago, has important history in our community,” Kacey Joyce said. “I would hate to see it lost forever, and think many people echo my feeling.”

The airport’s expansion project comes about because of increased traffic that has seen a record number of passengers come through in recent years.

The security screening checkpoint, the B-gate hold room, the A-gate concourse - including a new seat of escalators and stairs leading up to the second-level concourse - and the baggage claim area are all being upgraded.

The “Flight Patterns” artwork hangs on a long stretch of wall on the A-gate concourse.

A 1988 Register-Guard story described how dozens of people showed up at Joyce’s Eugene studio on a Saturday in November to be photographed for the city-commissioned project, which earned Joyce $15,000 for his work.

Some wore costumes, while others carried props such as luggage, hardhats or primitive laptops. Twelve-year-old Syndor Peterson was photographed with his trombone.

Joyce even photographed Minnesota author/humorist Garrison Keillor, of “A Prairie Home Companion” fame, who was in town for a gig.


Information from: The Register-Guard, https://www.registerguard.com

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