Donors near and far have supported the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center and founder Laura Quinn’s mission to rescue, rehabilitate and release birds back into the wild. The support has come in various forms, including a bronze and stainless steel sculpture awaiting a new suitor.
The sculpture, created by Cobert C. Collins, was presented to the bird center by a donor in 1990. Records from the donation show that a sculpture and an oil painting were given to the center. The 6-foot sculpture has long sat at the nonprofit’s maintenance facility in Tavernier. Today, the work stands at Carmen Kelley’s Key Largo Art Gallery, MM 103, bayside.
“We wanted to put it somewhere where it could be truly admired,” said Executive Director Jordan Budnik. “We reached out to Carmen and she was generous enough to display it for us. It’s quite a unique piece that we eventually want to find a good home for.”
Collins’ sculptures and collections span four continents, over 20 public and private facilities and more than 3,000 homes. Originating a unique technique of modeling stainless steel and gold silica bronze through a direct welding process, his work flows together by the use of an “S” line to reflect the interplay of intimate relationships.
Born in Portsmouth, Ohio, in 1924, he joined the army during World War II, becoming a paratrooper and ranger in the 101st Airborne Division. After the war, he enrolled at the University of Missouri, where he discovered art, writing and clay.
Earning degrees in fine arts and psychology, he moved to graduate work in art and occupational therapy. He moved to upstate New York where he founded an artists consortium of local painters and sculptors, and he also began displaying his work at the Arnot Art Gallery in Elmira, New York. He then moved to West Palm Beach, where he continued his journey the next 30 years as a prolific sculptor.
Collins passed away in Delaware, Ohio in March 2013. While a large portion of his work remains at the Westerville Ohio Parks and Recreation Foundation, his work can also be found in Florida, as well as in France and Switzerland.
“When you look at what he chose to sculpt, and even in all the quotes you can find from him, he focuses on messages of positivity and relationships between human beings,” Budnik said. “His sculptures include women and children and people dancing. It’s absolutely beautiful. And since this artwork is part bronze, the sculpture is alive in the sense that it’ll change with age.”
Budnik says the center is grateful for the generosity of space provided by Carmen and Tere Kelley at their gallery.
“We want it to be in a place that it can be truly admired,” she said. “We want it to be in a good home while at the same time preserving history.”
Those interested in buying the sculpture may contact the Wild Bird Center at 305-852-4486.