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Avian Etching

"Chickens fascinate me," said hyperactive man-child character Stuart with wide-eyed wonder on the late-night comedy show MAD TV. As far as we know, local artist Robert Flynn has never been into domestic fowl, but he has in the past favored cows. From 1993 through 1996 he produced a series of 280 paintings portraying the male and female of each variety of cattle. Then he moved on to depicting dogs. After a brief foray into cosmetic-surgery drawings and big landscapes, Flynn has put his mind and his paintbrush toward not chickens but birds, the cute chirpy kind that hang out in trees and crap on your car. "Somehow they're all interrelated," Flynn says dryly about his varied subjects. "You figure it out!"

When Flynn paints birds, it's not in the way John James Audubon did: one dainty portrait of a feathered friend at a time, painstakingly rendered in all its natural beauty. Flynn has coated numerous canvases with hundreds of birds, accurately drawn and precisely colored. One very large work, along with an accompanying set of binoculars, was shown at the exhaustive weekend art exhibition that filled the floors of Brickell Avenue's doomed Espirito Santo Bank Building last year. Currently a couple of his works can be seen in one of ArtCenter/South Florida's Lincoln Road mall windows and in the show "Making Art in Miami: Travels in Hyperreality" at North Miami's Museum of Contemporary Art.

Nature lovers who want an overwhelming avian experience indoors are best advised to go where birds of a different feather -- airplanes -- roost. At Miami International Airport, Tigertail Productions and mia gallery are featuring a 10-by-40-foot wall covered with about 800 of Flynn's images. Silkscreened onto 80 shiny blue sheets, the installation is either a menacing Hitchcockian nightmare or a gleaming bird watcher's paradise. But don't misjudge the painter as any sort of bird-watching wannabe. Has he ever woken up early in the morning to spy the creatures? "No," he says matter of factly. Would he ever want to? "No. I'm not one for the great outdoors!"


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