Celestial Flyways

Oppenstein Brothers Memorial Park, E 12th Street and Walnut Street, Kansas City, MO

Art in the Loop Foundation, Jackson County Parks & Recreation Department

Laura DeAngelis (artist/sculptor), DRAW Architects & Urban Design (architects)


Stainless steel (bird sculpture-reliefs), ceramic tile (on outside of Star Disk and stairs)

In 2007, Oppenstein Brothers Memorial Park at 12th and Walnut underwent a major renovation. The artist, Laura DeAngelis, and architects, DRAW Architects & Urban Design, combined to change a challenging urban space into a vibrant neighborhood park with cutting-edge public art that helps shows the relation of the man-made with nature and the heavens.

The centerpiece of the park is the Star Disk. The Star Disk is an anaphoric clock. This type of clock was among the first astronomical machines and a precursor to the astrolabe, which was the most popular astronomical tool prior to the telescope. By following the directions printed on a nearby sign, one can determine the stars and constellations that can be seen from the park. On the outside of the Star Disk are tiles hand-crafted by the artist with botanical and ornithological themes.

The main artistic element is the Celestial Flyways. Kansas City is positioned along the Mississippi Flyway, which is a major route for migratory birds. The artist has created fifteen stainless steel sculpture-reliefs of different birds (ten of which are pictured below) that come through Kansas City on their annual migrations. These reliefs are found embedded along dye lines in the concrete that represent each bird’s migratory pathway through the Kansas City area. Many birds use the stars as navigational aids during their migration, which ties the birds in with the Star Disk. The nearby sign tells what birds are represented and the location of each one in the park.