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Lynne Jordan: The artist behind the eagle

More than two years in the making, those entering Boulder City from the West can’t help but see Boulder City’s newest addition.

The new welcome sign near the intersection of Nevada Highway and Veterans Memorial Boulevard boasts an eagle spanning more than 20 feet, making it hard to miss as motorists pass by.

How it all began was that former Boulder City Mayor Kiernan McManus mentioned to longtime artist Lynne Jordan that he’d like to have a sign that was at least 15 feet high and 30 feet wide with an eagle on it to pay homage to the high school’s mascot. He asked her if she thought she could do that.

“My mouth said ‘yes’ and my body screamed, ‘no, are you kidding?’” she said, laughing.

Could have been muddy

The city, which allotted $75,000 for the entire project, had to get the funding as well as come up with a design before any work was to begin. Originally, the eagle was to be painted on a wall or billboard. The city eventually decided upon the current design with the help of metal sculptor John Banks, who suggested the eagle be made out of steel.

In September 2022, Jordan was given the green light to begin the painting of the eagle, but at that time, the final design had yet to be determined. Once the project started, it took five months to complete but a major hiccup postponed the placement of the eagle until just last week, even though the concrete wall the eagle is now perched upon was completed in April of last year.

“The final coat of the painting was the wrong formula and it turned all the paint to mud. It was sickening,” he said.

Prior to that is when she asked her son, Ryan, to be her assistant in completing the project. While he had never painted, she said he’s always been artistic. They also received assistance from Cody Olsen, who helped with the painting.

After she had completed the painting, Ryan placed four layers of UV-protective coating and the final coat was anti-graffiti. This was August of 2023. He was given the formula for the anti-graffiti coating, but the mixture he was given was incorrect. The end result was that the lines of the eagle’s feathers were washed out and the rest looked bad, she said.

Sign “a-peel”

“There was nothing on the market that would take off the anti-graffiti painting,” she said. “The only thing he could do was to peel it off with the peel sizes being the size of your fingernail. It took months because it is 20 feet wide and 17 feet tall. You had to be very gentle taking that top layer off, in order to avoid ruining the paint beneath it. It was truly a nightmare. I didn’t give up, but I couldn’t imagine how long it was going to take.”

Jordan had never done anything on the scale of this project. She’s done artwork for years in Boulder City and has appeared in Art in the Park many times. Knowing that painting on metal is different than painting on wood or other canvases, Jordan said she was nervous trying something new. It was at an Art in the Park event that she met an artist who paints on metal and said it was almost as though a guardian angel had landed in her booth.

Lloyd Hawkins, a longtime friend, was asked to cut the metal, which comes in sheets of 5 feet by 10 feet. Jordan did a free-hand drawing of the eagle. Ryan did the cutting of the metal and Hawkins did the welding of the three pieces of the eagle together as well as the mounting on the wall at its current location. He also cut and welded parts of the wing and then bent them to give it more of a three-dimensional look.

“He did a fantastic job,” she said of Hawkins.

Taking flight

During the painting process, Jordan did so at the LA Water and Power building because of its size and its doors, wide enough to move the eagle from inside to outside in one piece.

By the first of May of this year, the eagle was ready for flight. It was hauled on a flatbed trailer to the location on May 13. From there, city crews and Hawkins helped guide crane operator Danny McKay, of Reliable Crane Service and a 1987 BCHS graduate, when placing the eagle on the wall to be mounted.

“I had so much adrenaline,” Jordan said of watching the eagle installation. “I had all the confidence in the world that it would go smoothly. There’s so much pride in this project. Not only did all three of my sons graduate from Boulder City High School but I proved to myself that I could do a project of this size. It’s very rewarding and I’m very happy with the finished product. It’s hard to let go. It kind of becomes yours and part of you.”

Ron Eland is editor of the Boulder City Review. He can be reached at reland@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523.

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