Farmington town center breathes new life into Old Tired Crow. And with the sculpture measuring 6 feet tall and weighing 700 pounds, that’s quite a feat.
The sculpture, created from recycled materials, was obtained for the Grand Raven Festival, the month-long “spooky but fun” festival, now in its second year. It was installed on Grand River Avenue near TCF Bank earlier this month.
[Read more about downtown Farmington’s Edgar Allen Poe-inspired festival on Metromode.]
Battle Creek artist Nick Jakubiak.The Old Tired Crow is the work of Nick Jakubiak, an artist based in Battle Creek. The sculpture takes its name, in part, from its materials: Jakubiak sculpted the crow from used and abandoned automobile and bicycle tires. Its substructure consists of reused 55 gallon metal drums.
Jakubiak originally built the Old Tired Crow in 2012 for this year’s ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids. While he has since lost count of how many tires it took to build the Old Tired Crow, Jakubiak remembers the work it took.
“Collecting the tires was not the difficult part. People are always trying to get rid of old tires, ”says Jakubiak. “The crow was tough because most of the tires I used are steel belt tires, and it was really painful to cut. [into the feathers]. It wasn’t until towards the end of construction that I started using these mini donut spare tires, which don’t have steel belts and are much easier to cut.
“I learned a lot along the way.”
Jakubiak even learned to weld by sculpting the crow, buying the equipment, and learning the welding techniques himself to create his sub-sculpture. That was the fun part, he said.
” I like to learn new things. The fun part for me is the challenge. It’s always about solving the puzzle, figuring out how to actually do it.
One of Jakubiak’s woodcarvings. Photo courtesy of the artist.
The Old Tired Crow was part of ArtPrize 2012 and it was here that Sean Murphy, a volunteer with the Grand Raven Committee, saw the sculpture for the first time. He remembered it all those years later and sparked the conversations that led to his purchase.
“I was a little surprised that someone remembered that. It has been in storage for years, ”says Jakubiak. Although modest, his Old Tired Crow sculpture proved to be a popular attraction at that year’s ArtPrize event. Jakubiak says Ripley’s Believe It or Not! the organization and a local zoo approached him to purchase the sculpture, although neither could agree on a price. So in his warehouse he remained, until downtown Farmington came calling him almost 10 years later.
“It’s not sad for me to see him go. For me, the pleasure I get from it is solving the puzzle, figuring out how to do something, ”says Jakubiak. “It’s nice to see him find a good home. People can take advantage of it now and it means a lot more; I can’t take advantage of it like others can.
For downtown Farmington, acquiring the Old Tired Crow is another feather in their public art hat.
This is especially true when it comes to the Grand Raven Festival, which puts even more emphasis on Raven-themed public art. Local artist Leila Mullison has created a series of stop-motion animated videos featuring her “Arthur the Crow” puppet frolicking in downtown Farmington. Interactive crow wings painted on the side of SIPP, artwork by Mary Lou Stropoli, and a mural on the east wall of KickstART, artwork by Pam Alexander are also planned.
A contest to rename the Old Tired Crow is currently underway and suggestions can be submitted via the Farmington Town Center Facebook page.
A recent cityscape painting by Nick Jakubiak. “One of my favorite artists is Edward Hopper,” he says. (Photo: Nick Jakubiak)
As for Jakubiak himself, the professional artist is happy that his sculpture becomes a work of public art. A native of the Detroit area, Jakubiak spent part of his career as a commercial artist for local advertising agencies and book publishers, eventually becoming a professional artist in his own right. He spent several years in New York City before moving to Battle Creek to care for an elderly relative. He hasn’t been in ArtPrize for a while, he says, but still pursues art in a variety of disciplines, including oil painting and woodcarving.
“I am a very pro-public art. I lived in Brooklyn for a few years and have known many street artists who were doing fantastic graffiti work. A lot of these things are more sincere and easier to appreciate than what you can find in an art gallery, ”says Jakubiak.
“Now that I have this crow out of the way, maybe I can make another big sculpture.”
For those interested in his work, Nick Jakubiak can be contacted via Facebook or by calling (347) 612-0473.