My neighborhood will be getting a Tony Fitzpatrick mural

Which of these collages by Tony Fitzpatrick do you like best? One of these collages will become a mural in my town, Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

Glen Ellyn resident, Diana Martinez, posted on Facebook:

On behalf of the DuPage Public Art Committee and College of DuPage, we are working on installing a mural in the new pedway on Main Street. Internationally renowned artist, actor, and author Tony Fitzpatrick has agreed to do the installation and is recommending two birds that are indigenous to the area.

Tony grew up in Lombard and caddied at Glen Oak Country Club and is a COD graduate, who went on to have his work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MOMA, and in museums around the world.

The committee has narrowed it down to four images to work with. We are asking the community (you!) to vote for your top two. #1 top left, #2 top right, #3 middle left, #4 bottom middle. Please Pick TWO numbers for your vote!

Which one would you vote for?

His collages are loaded with so much imagery, I did a reverse Google image search for each collage to see if there is any background information.

Option 1

“Humboldt Park Winter Woodpecker (Haunted by Spirits)” tweeted by Tony Fitzpatrick on January 23, 2021.

Option 2

This collage of an American Goldfinch is the featured image of a Audubon article titled, “Reimagining the American Goldfinch: Cultural icon Tony Fitzpatrick blends folk art with his bird obsession“. The opening paragraph describes Fitzpatrick’s personal history with the goldfinch birds:

Tony Fitzpatrick’s first impression of a goldfinch was stunning. He was weeding dandelions in his father’s garden when he saw the songbird hit a window. He watched, enthralled, as it “jumped around like a drunken sailor,” regained its wits, and burst up and away. “In my six-year-old mind, I thought that he’d become part of the sun,” he says.

Fitzpatrick connects his work with one of the greatest nature illustrators ever, John James Audubon:

The influence of John James Audubon’s own goldfinches is subtle and, in Fitzpatrick’s mind, inevitable. “The minute you make an image of a bird,” he says, “you make a dialogue with Audubon, whether you’re conscious of it or not.”

An author for the American Birding Association, Greg Neise, wrote an article about Fitzpatrick, “Meet My Friend Tony“. This Goldfinch image accompanies the article.

Tony told me once (or was it from one of his plays that I’ve seen? … his stories blur like that) about his earliest encounter with birds. He was playing in his front yard as a small child, and the yard was overrun with dandelions. Suddenly, some of the dandelions got up and flew away! He was shocked and mesmerized, and ran straight in to tell his mother about them. Of course, the “flying dandelions” were American Goldfinches.

The Poetry Foundation in Chicago has an audio recording of Fitzpatrick talking about Goldfinches.

“As it ascended, it just grazed my face. And I looked up, and the sun was shining and I couldn’t see it. And to my mind the finch, this little bird, had just become part of the sun. It had just flown up and become this intractable part of the sun. 

 “And I like to think this—all these drawings and all this writing, that I’ve been looking for him ever since.”

Fitzpatrick tweeted this image on August 23, 2014.

Option 3

I couldn’t find anything for this image. A somewhat similar image exists on his Instagram from May 24, 2018, “Absinthe Bird in the Garden of Yellow Trees ( for Sonia Delaunay)“.

Oh wait. I found the exact image further down on his Instagram from April 21, 2018, “Absinthe Bird (In The Paris Night Music)“.

ThirdCoastReview interviewed Fitzpatrick about his show of Absinthe Birds at The Dime Gallery

The series came out of a three-month stint in Paris as the second season of the Amazon show, Patriot, in which Fitzpatrick stars, was being filmed. “I am the only guy who ever went to Paris and lost 17 pounds,” he said. Constantly wandering the parks and streets of the city, the artist (like so many before him) took great inspiration from it, intoxicated by the scenes before him, the history around him, as well as the numerous species of birds surrounding him.

The Luxembourg Gardens was a mainstay of his wanderings and it was a place where birds all of species mingled, making for a magical experience. “I was amazed that I was seeing all these different kinds of birds and a friend of mine told me that a lot of these were escapees from the market where they sold cage birds to rich people. For a century, they’ve been escaping and breeding in the parks.” The birds themselves became tributes for Fitzpatrick to the many artists and thinkers whose presence still permeates the city.

Option 4

The only result is a blog post from January 2019, “Tony Fitzpatrick visually tells stories in his collages“. No title given for this image in the blog post.

Here’s my votes:

  • 2–because Tony Fitzpatrick has a childhood story about American Goldfinches.
  • 4–because I like it.

So pumped to have a world-renowned artist’s work in Glen Ellyn. This is awesome! All four choices are fantastic.

Fitzpatrick is on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Soundcloud (he has a podcast!), and

Outside of these four options, my personal favorite collage of his is on his Facebook, “Autumn Tumbler (Autumn Begins in Chicago)

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3 years ago

I pick #2 as well, He Chases Day Ghosts. I wouldn’t choose one that mentions another city

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