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Poet’s Walk: Natural Instincts

Joe Fay, Gary Soto

Ernst & Young Plaza
725 S. Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90017


Joe Fay

Natural Instincts, 1990

Based on the poetry of Gary Soto

Bronze panels

Variable dimensions

Natural Instincts is a  collaboration between poet Gary Soto and artist Joe Fay as part of the Poets’ Walk series. It is made of three bronze panels cut in the shape of three animal silhouettes: a bird, cat, and a dog.  The bird is in flight, the cat is leaping, and the dog is walking with its head and tail down. The panels are installed on the exterior of the E&Y Plaza building.

Using nature as a metaphor for corporate culture, Natural Instincts juxtaposes the behavior of the working man with the behavior of each of these three animals, stressing man’s fast pace, built environment, aversion to love, and impact on surroundings. Poetry by Soto appears in the middle of each panel and reads as follows:

The business of stray dogs is to trot through the rain,
Bark and roll on grass.  They follow smoke and leaves.
They sleep on flowers, which each morning spring back.

Like you, glad worker, the cat hungers before noon.
Its blood is alive, when it leaps,
Not even its shadow can keep up.

What scares us most is windy traffic,
A rush step.  The same with birds.
Men in suits toss bread when we should feed on love.

Born in Newport, Rhode Island, Joe Fay received his BA from San Diego State University and has taught at several notable institutions including Otis College of Art and Design, Parsons School of Design, the University of Southern California, and Occidental College.  Fay’s colorful works include subjects and styles distinctive to Los Angeles and are influenced by the diverse culture of the city.  Fay’s sculptures incorporate natural imagery, such as animals and people, often depicted in silhouettes cut from brushed aluminum.  Fay was awarded the Young Talent Award from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and his work was later purchased for the museum’s permanent collection.