Jane Ingram Allen

bluebird by Chris Allen 1997


The Bird Watching Projects began in Fall 1996 with the idea of making a few sculptures of birds to sit on top of the bus shelters along Utica, New York's main street. I thought this would be a way to brighten up the streets of Utica and add some color and fun to the dreary days of winter. And, it would continue my interest in putting art in public places where everyone would encounter it. I proposed the project to the City of Utica and received their support for the idea.

I wrote a grant proposal to the Ruth Chenven Foundation, New York City, asking for funds to do the project and received the grant in November 1996. I began designing and making sculptures representing common birds found in New York State. The project has grown to include now over 250 individual bird sculptures which continue to be shown as installation works at different sites in different configurations. As the birds continue to migrate to different sites, some have found permanent homes in individual's backyards and on city decks as well as becoming public art works.

For more background information about the development of my Bird Watching Projects, click here to read my "Artist's Statement."

Bird Watching 1

Utica Birds on a Bus Shelter

In May 1997 "Bird Watching 1" was installed on some bus shelters in Utica, NY, along Genesee Street, the city's main street. This was a temporary installation, and due to bureaucratic difficulties and liability issues, the birds could not be left on the bus shelters. However, some of the birds will be installed permanently at the Utica Zoo in July 1998.

Bird Watching 2

Birds installed at Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park

"Bird Watching 2" was installed August 2- September 6, 1997, at Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park in Brooklyn as part of the 1997 Outdoor Sculpture Show "Between the Bridges." This installation consisted of 66 birds perched along the hand railing of the boardwalk along the East River in this urban park located between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn, NY. To see more photos of "Bird Watching 2," click here.

Bird Watching 3

Castellane Gallery Barn w/ Birds"Bird Watching 3 - Migration" was installed November 30, 1997 - April 30, 1998, as a public art work at Castellane Gallery, an outdoor sculpture exhibition area along Highway 46 near Munnsville, NY. For this installation I included over 200 birds sited on, in and around an abandoned barn on this rural farmland along a public highway. in and around an abandoned barn on this rural farmland. Richard Castellane, owner of the site, used to run a gallery in NYC in the early 1960, and my exhibition was the inaugural exhibition for his re-entry into the contemporary art field. Richard plans to continue with changing exhibitions of outdoor work at the site. To see more photos of "Bird Watching 3 - Migration" click here.

4 The Birds (Bird Watching 4)

Central Artery Project

Bird Watching 4 took place on May 2, 1998, and was a multi-media collaborative art installation with live jazz performance titled "4 the Birds" at the Kirkland Art Center, Clinton, NY. For this multi-media indoor piece I collaborated with my son
Chris Allen, a jazz composer and trombonist. The live jazz performance was by Chris's Boston-based jazz band Central Artery Project, and consisted of "bird" music composed by Chris to go with the installation. The bird-inspired jazz was composed for this performance by Chris Allen and was performed in the installation by Central Artery Project featuring Chris on trombone, Ed Barrett, Guitar; Paul Cherba, trumpet; John Sullivan, Stand-up Bass and Tatsyua Nakatani, Drums. You can listen to some of the music from for "4 the Birds" by clicking here. To return, click on the back button on your browser.

"4 the Birds" used some of the same perching birds, a few chickens and a rooster and many newly created "flying" bird sculptures which hung from the ceiling with springs.

The birds moved in space becoming kinetic sculptures with a little audience involvement. To see more about "4 the Birds" click here.

Bird Watching 2 - Reinstallation


On May 2, 1998, I made a re-installation of "Bird Watching 2" at Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park, Brooklyn, NY. This is a state park located across the East River from Manhattan between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge. My colorful birds were so popular with park visitors and staff when they were exhibited during the BWAC 1997 Outdoor Sculpture Show at the the park that I was asked to bring the birds back in 1998. The birds will remain on view during the summer of 1998 along the boardwalk in the park.

Bird Watching Project - New York Mills School

Jane Ingram Allen's Bird Watching Project New York Mills SchoolThe week of May 26 - June 1, 1998, I was an artist in residence at New York Mills Union Free School, New York Mills, NY. During the residency I worked with students in elementary through high school grades to create a "Bird Watching" installation in the school's new garden and outdoor classroom area, which has been designed by the school's art teacher, Amy Deller. My residency was sponsored by the school's Art, Music and Drama Boosters Club which is also supporting the garden project. I led the students in designing and making 10 bird sculptures including an eagle and nest with two baby birds. Students also made many colorful butterflies and some bugs which hang from the trees in the garden space. The sculptures were constructed using handmade paper which the students made, painted and coated with polyurethane to help make the birds weather resistant. To see more photos of the New York Mills School Bird Watching Project click here.

Bird Watching 5

Blue Jays installed on platforms

"Bird Watching 5" was installed on June 6, 1998, at the State Administration Office Building Plaza at One Capitol Hill in downtown Providence, Rhode Island, as part of the city's annual Convergence Art Festival. Jane's art installation in Providence is sponsored by a grant from the Rhode Island State Council for the Arts. To see more of "Bird Watching 5" click here.

Bird Watching 6

Cardinals installed in Wilcox Park

"Bird Watching 6" was installed in Wilcox Park in Westerly, Rhode Island, on June 7, 1998. This installation was sponsored by the Memorial and Library Association of Westerly and the Westerly-Pawcatuck Joint Development Task Force also in cooperation with the Convergence Festival of Providence. To see more about "Bird Watching 6" click here.

Bird Watching - Peep Show (Bird Watching 7)

Jane Ingram Allen viewing Peep ShowJane's Bird Watching Projects now includes "Jane Ingram Allen's Peep Show", a storefront window installation in downtown Utica, NY. This installation uses a family of blue birds complete with nest and three baby birds. This piece was installed on June 1, 1998, at the old Boston Store on Genesee Street, Utica's main street. This public art project is part of the Utica Monday Nite series of art and performance events held in downtown Utica throughout the summer months. To see more about "Jane Ingram Allen's Peep Show" click here.


For the Birds Too (For the Birds 2)

k-band.JPG (31695 bytes)"For the Birds Too" -  an interactive installation of multiple "flying" bird sculptures at the Rathbone Gallery, The Sage Colleges, Albany, NY, October 8 - November 10, 1998.  For more information click here.



3 For the Birds

flybird1.jpg (5480 bytes)Jane had a one-person exhibition titled "3 For the Birds" at the Zeitgeist Gallery, 312 Broadway, Cambridge, MA, Apr. 15-18.   Jane had received a Special Opportunity Stipend grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Upper Catskill Community Council of the Arts to support the exhibition in Cambridge.   For this site specific installation in the gallery Jane used about 60 of her "flying" bird sculptures made of handmade paper over a wire armature.  The colorful birds filled the space.   They were suspended from the ceiling with springs so that they move when viewers activate them. The reception on Saturday, April 17, at 8 PM featured a special performances of "bird inspired" jazz by her son Chris Allen and his band Central Artery Project.   

Bird Watching 8

bw2-goldf.jpg (33138 bytes)50 of Jane's bird sculptures were exhibited as a site specific installation at Smithtown Township Arts Council, Mills Pond House, 660 Route 25A, St. James, NY (Long Island) from April 10 - May 23, 1999.   Jane's "Bird Watching 8" installation was part of a group invitational exhibition titled "Available Space" in which 8 artists use various rooms and spaces in and around the Mills Pond House.  Jane used the front and back porches and the grounds for her installation. 


Bird Watching in Lake George

bh-backshore.JPG (51299 bytes)"Bird Watching in Lake George" a public art installation presented by the Lake George Arts Project, Canada Street, Lake George, NY, opened June 26 - October 1, 1999. This public art installation in Lake George for the summer of 1999 was supported by a grant from the Serlin Foundation.   The site specific installation of Jane's painted handmade paper and wire bird sculptures celebrated the new lakefront walkway with "birds" perched on light posts and rooftops along the lake's edge, on MacDonald Pier and in Shepard Park.   Lake George is a village at the southern end of  Lake George, a scenic and historic vacation area in New York's Adirondacks.    Jane's site specific installation  featured birds common to the Lake George area and the Adirondacks.  

The Village of Lake George is considering reinstalling Jane's birds next summer!  There is a possibility of birds being purchased by Lake George.  "Bird Watching in Lake George" may become a  permanent installation  in Lake George so that visitors and residents can enjoy them all year long.   


July 1, 2000 - April 1, 2001: Ithaca Commons, Ithaca, NY, "Art in the Heart of the City" Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition.

For this exhibition Jane installed 26 bird sculptures on the three entry signs at Ithaca Commons, a pedestrian mall in downtown Ithaca, NY. The exhibition also contained Jane's "Birds on a Wire" sculpture installation as well as sculptures by other artists. The exhibition remained on view throughout the year.


May 27 - November 18, 2000: Visual Studies Workshop, University Avenue & Prince Street, Rochester, NY, sponsored by the Pyramid Art Center.  

"Bird Watching in Rochester" on the grounds of the Visual Studies Workshop at the corner of University Avenue and Prince Street in downtown Rochester was installed on Saturday, May 27 and remains on view. Jane’s installation in Rochester is sponsored by the Pyramid Art Center as part of their off site exhibition program  while the Center is in the process of re-locating.  The birds were so well received that Jane was asked to extend the exhibition. Elizabeth McDade, Director of the Pyramid Art Center, said that Jane's birds made even the most ardent Post-Modernist smile. "Bird Watching in Rochester" continues Jane's series of  "bird watching" installations in public spaces begun in 1997.    The birds are made of  handmade paper over a wire armature, painted with acrylics and coated with polyurethane for outdoor use. These photos are of  the installation in Rochester.  For more information about other "Bird Watching" projects, click here.

Bird Watching in Cazenovia

Route 20, Village of Cazenovia, NY, July 7- August 12, 2001

Jane made a site specific installation of her bird sculptures all along Route 20 through the downtown part of the village of Cazenovia, NY. Bird sculptures were placed on signs, in store windows and on street trees. The exhibition was part of Jane's ongoing series of "Bird Watching" installations in public spaces and was presented by "Cazenovia Counterpoint," a festival of music and art organized by the Society for New Music.


Bird Watching at the Schuylkill Center

May 17 - October 27, 2001
Art Gallery, Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, 8480 Hagy's Mill Road, Philadelphia, PA

Jane created an indoor and outdoor site specific installation in her "Bird Watching" series with multiple bird sculptures representing common birds found at the Schuylkill Center. The installation is in the newly created lobby art gallery at the Center which features changing exhibitions of art dealing with nature and the environment. Jane also has many birds sited in trees and on signs around the main building at the Schuylkill Center. Jane is an artist-in-residence at the Schuylkill Center May 15 - June 30 and again during the month of October. Jane's residency is supported by an "Artist As Catalyst" grant from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. During the October part of her residency Jane will be creating other works that will be exhibited at the Schuylkill Center Art Gallery in November and December, 2001.

"Bird Watching in Schenectady," Jay Street, Schenectady, NY -

installed on August 11, 2003 and continuing.

Jane worked with artists and volunteers of all ages in Schenectady to teach them how to make the handmade paper bird sculptures for this public art installation on Jay Street in downtown Schenectady. The birds in this installation are similar to the "bird watching" installations that Jane has been doing all over the world since 1997. The Schenectady project contains over 110 individual and unique bird sculptures made by over 40 volunteer participants, ages 8 to 80. The birds are installed all along the fronts of buildings and in storefront windows on this unique street of small shops closed to vehicular traffic. The project was sponsored by the Jay Street Business Association, Proctor Theatre and other community participants and partially supported by a grant to the artist from the Puffin Foundation.

"Bird Watching at Guandu Nature Park," November 6, 2004 - January 31, 2005, Guandu Nature Park, Taipei County, Taiwan

Wu Ling-i Director of Guandu Nature Park and Jane's BirdsFor this exhibition Jane volunteered to make a site-specific installation of 12 bird sculptures representing common birds found at Guandu Nature Park for the Park's new wetlands conservation area.  Jane's bird sculptures are installed on a bridge leading to a new marshland nature area that will provide research and educational programs on wetlands management and temporary resting places for the many migratory birds that stop over in Guandu Nature Park.  The installation was on view at the Nature Park through January 2005.  This photo shows Guandu Nature Park director Lingi Wu displaying some of the birds temporarily on a pedestrian bridge over some of the marsh lands at the Nature Park.



Updated April 5, 2007

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