'Goosebumps' for Ottawa artist in Gander seeing father's work for first time
Rene Price saw the airport's Birds of Welcome sculpture in person last week
An Ottawa artist made a special trip to Gander last week, to see a family treasure up-close.
For the first time ever, Rene Price got a first-hand look at the original Birds of Welcome sculpture, a fixture in Gander Airport's international lounge since 1958.
The piece was created by his father, under commission by the airport's designers, and has greeted international passengers travelling through Gander throughout the terminal's heyday.
"It gives you a bit of goosebumps, you know," he said. "It actually really looks good."
Price believes his father, Arthur Price, never got to see the piece in Gander. However, the installation did lead to a bit of a break for the Ottawa artist.
According to Rene, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Walter Annenberg, saw the piece on a stopover in Gander, and immediately ordered two replicas to be made.
"For my father, that was probably his biggest deal that ever happened," Price said.
Those copies are now on display in New York and in California — Rene Price and his wife Petra Halkes had seen the two replicas before, but this was their first time inspecting the original creation.
"I'm kinda like collecting them," said Price. "So this was an opportunity to come to this thing."
Because it was kept inside, Price said the original sculpture is in much better shape than its replicas. But he said he believed the art work was at risk recently, because of the Gander International Airport Authority's 2014 plans to replace the entire terminal building.
"Over the years — my father passed away in 2008 — I've watched a lot of his sculptures as a lot of them have disappeared," he said. "Because the way people do things nowadays is they start over again."
But in 2017, the airport said it would renovate — not replace — the existing building. And this month, Airport CEO Reg Wright announced plans to open up the celebrated international lounge to the public.
Watch Rene Price find his father's artwork in Gander and see Arthur Price in his home in Ottawa in 1955 in the video player below.