22 November 2013 Meet “Yes We Can” – the Towne Park Chicken!
A close cousin to our fowl friend the turkey, a ten foot, 250 pound chicken in full Towne Park valet regalia has been spotted pecking around outside Towne Park Headquarters just in time for Thanksgiving. So how did it get there? I interviewed Office Assistant Christine Sperry, who spent two months creating it, to find out more about the chicken and Towne Park’s involvement in downtown Annapolis’ “Hatching the Arts!”
Whose idea was it for Towne Park to have its own chicken?
That’s an easy question – Jerry South! The chicken is just one of the many ways Jerry gives back to the community.
How did you become involved in the process?
Gay Harmon, Jerry’s Executive Assistant, knew that I was an artist and asked if I would be interested. I thought it would be a good opportunity to give back to Towne Park.
What was the process behind constructing the Towne Park chicken?
I had to submit examples of my work and a sketch of what we wanted our chicken to look like.
After everything was approved, the form of the chicken was delivered to my home. I sketched the design onto the form of the chicken and started painting.
Does the chicken have a name?
The chicken’s name is “Yes I Can.”
When did you first begin painting?
It was 15 years ago when I started painting. My sons gave me a water color set for Mother’s Day. We spent the day at the Torpedo Factory, an art center in Alexandria, Virginia, where I was inspired to create my own art. It was something I just thought I could do.
Have you had any proper training or are you self-taught?
I taught myself by studying paintings of artists that I really liked, picking apart the paintings and figuring out how I could produce the same. I started seeing things in shapes and tonal values and thinking spatially – how all the shapes come together to produce a realistic painting.
What was the hardest part of creating the chicken?
Painting the chicken was easy… Making the hat for the chicken was very difficult! If it wasn’t for my husband and our neighbor, our chicken may not have had a hat.
I knew I would have to use floral foam rings, but I didn’t know I would have to saw them down to fit. I’ve never used fiberglass, so I had help with covering the foam and sanding down the fiberglass. It was a very labor intensive process!
How long did the process take?
Between multiple layers of paint, figuring out how to make a hat (that would withstand the elements), sawing, sanding, learning how to use fiberglass and applying layers of weatherproof varnish, that big chicken was in my basement for two months!
Was this the biggest job you’ve done? Was it like anything you’d done before?
This wasn’t the “biggest” job I’ve ever done. I’ve painted murals, one being 120’ long and 12’ high. Painting our chicken wasn’t like anything I’ve ever done before, but it made for a good story. I’m accustomed to painting fine art on canvas.
How were you able to keep it so secret?!?!?
I only mentioned the chicken to a couple of people to get their feedback. I trusted them to keep it a secret, and they did.
What’s the feedback been like?
So many people have told me how much they like the chicken and how awesome he looks. I even heard from people who said our chicken is one of the best in Annapolis… but I knew I hit the big time when Rick Sorrells told me I was a “Rock Star!”
How does it feel when you see the chicken?
I feel very happy when I hear people excited about our chicken. I wanted “Yes I Can” to have a presence and be a bold, sharp looking, confident chicken.
Basically, I wanted “Yes I Can” to represent Towne Park!