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Aeling’s 22-foot ‘Screaming Eagle’ will soon be Tennessee-bound

Bill DeYoung

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Sculptor Mark Aeling and "Tip of the Spear," which will soon travel to Clarksville, Tennessee. Photo by Bill DeYoung.

The biggest bird in St. Petersburg will be leaving the roost before long, so the time to come and take a look at it is now.

More to the point, the best day is Saturday (July 9), when the 22-foot stainless steel bald eagle will be on display outside MGA Sculpture Studio, during the monthly Second Saturday ArtWalk.

The massive sculpture is bound for Clarksville, Tennessee, where it will be positioned in a park near the gates of the 101st Airborne Division headquarters at Fort Campbell (which sits on the Kentucky/Tennessee border).

The 101st is the US Army’s air assault division, nicknamed the “Screaming Eagles.”

This was a commission that Mark Aeling – whose complex local work includes the life-sized sculpture of Tony Jannus’ biplane at the St. Pete Pier, and the enormous steel eagle’s wing (“Shielded”) in the lobby of the police department – found tremendously appealing.

“For me, any opportunity to incorporate birds and wings into sculpture is one I’m going to take advantage of,” Aeling said.

Aeling conceived of the piece, and then he and MGA’s Alex Kaufman designed it together. This took most of 2021, as there is a great deal of science, mathematics and back-and-forth involved.

The piece – its title is “Tip of the Spear,” a nickname for the Screaming Eagles – is more than art. It’s structural engineering, computer 3-D rendering, weight balancing, cutting, shaping and welding. Steel and blood and sweat and tears.

Fabrication began in April. Still to be crafted is the concrete plinth on which it will be mounted.

It’ll be one of the most complicated installations MGA has ever done, according to Aeling, as it will include two mounting surfaces on different planes. “We’ve done multiple mounting points, but on one plane, usually, and then everything just gets set down on it.”

That’s one reason for the weight distribution calculations. The solid (not hollow) piece, once the plinth is built and attached, will weigh approximately 9,000 pounds.

And then it’s off to Clarksville, by truck, 775 miles distant as the eagle flies.

“We are ready to go,” Aeling said. “I’ve got one or two more days of work on it. We’re waiting for the concrete base to get cast – that’s supposed to happen this week – so the time frame for install should be last week of July, first week of August.”

Which, of course, means that “Tip of the Spear” will not be around St. Pete for next month’s ArtWalk.

MGA Sculpture Studio is located in the Warehouse Arts District. Saturday’s free ArtWalk is 5 to 9 p.m.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Scott Wagman

    Scott Wagman

    July 6, 2022at3:39 pm

    It is wonderful to know that St. Petersburg is home to several world class artists. Mark Aeling has dotted Florida and many other states with art that is a combination of creative design and engineering prowess.
    We’re grateful for his presence and enhancing our cultural lives.

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