A pivotal figure in the Austin arts scene, sculptor David Deming created Mystic Raven during his two-decade tenure as a professor of sculpture, drawing, and design at The University of Texas at Austin. Referencing both a human figure and “the spirit of a bird,” as the artist says, this dark, abstracted form depicts a bird in the corvid family, which includes grackles, crows, and ravens, common in large cities around the world.
The shapes atop Mystic Raven’s tripod of columns suggest a beak and wings. Originally commissioned in the 1980s for an office building in downtown Austin, this totemic sculpture exemplifies Deming’s interest in formal construction and industrial materials like welded steel. For Deming, a longtime Austin resident who currently lives in Cleveland, Ohio, this dynamic monument symbolizes the influx and migration of new residents to Austin that began in the 1980s, and the subsequent development, growth, and change throughout the city.
Mystic Raven was previously installed downtown on Congress Avenue and later at Laguna Gloria. It was deinstalled in 2013 for conservation reasons. In consultation with the artist, it has recently been restored and repainted by The Contemporary Austin. It is now installed in Pease Park as part of The Contemporary Austin’s Museum Without Walls program, following consultation with the Pease Park Conservancy, Austin Parks and Recreation, and Art in Public Places; a community engagement meeting; and approval from the Arts Commission.
This installation is made possible by a generous gift from the Edward and Betty Marcus Foundation. Special thanks to David Deming, Lynne Storm and Mark L. Smith, Pease Park Conservancy and its Art Committee, Austin Parks and Recreation, Art in Public Places, and the Arts Commission.