Street art is often used as a powerful visual communication tool between artist and society. Through the Audubon Mural Project, the National Audubon Society and Gitler &____Gallery have teamed up with a band of talented artists to create a series of murals depicting climate-threatened birds.
The National Audubon Society strives to protect and advocate for birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. Gitler &_____ Gallery, owned by Avi Gitler, showcases rising artists, “original craftsmen and visionaries” in their gallery space and also in pop-up galleries throughout the city. This mural initiative features bird species who have been identified as at-risk from progressing climate change in Audubon’s Birds and Climate Change Report. The myriad street art exhibits are being painted throughout the former Harlem‐based neighborhood of Haitian-born, pioneer bird artist and ornithologist, John James Audubon.
Audubon’s scientists relied on “hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations” as well as the use of complex climate models to develop the climate report. It analyzes what various species need to live and thrive and predicts how birds in the U.S. and Canada will experience and react to the changing climate “as the Earth’s climate responds to increased greenhouse gases.” The study shows that at least 50 percent of North American birds are threatened by the warming climate. The Audubon Mural Project is commissioning artists to commemorate the 314 species in the report and 67 have been completed thus far. Here are a few beauties:
House Finch by Mr. Mustart, at 3764 Broadway, NYC
The Audubon report finds the House Finch’s summer range could shrink by as much as 69 percent by 2080.
Mr. Mustart was born in Russia and has been working in Northern New Jersey for over a decade. He has a degree in painting and drawing from New Jersey City University and has shared his talents in murals and galleries throughout the New York tristate area. According to the Audubon site, Mustart is an urban artist but “never fails to notice the natural world around him and incorporates that into his work.”
“The bird I picked was mainly chosen for aesthetic reasons—I like the way the House Finch looks. However, in painting the mural, I was educated by the members of the Audubon Society about the troubled future this bird is facing. It’s a beautiful bird, and I wish I could help it. For now, raising awareness is the least I can do,” says the artist.
Yellow-headed Blackbird by Don Rimx at 1732 Amsterdam, NYC
Yellow-headed Blackbirds breed in cattail marshes within western North America. Audubon estimates they will undergo a 68 percent loss of summer range by 2080 and reports that the winter range now suffers a 64 percent reduction. Their non-seasonal living space is hard to forecast because they are found both throughout Mexico and the southwest during winter.
Don Rimx is a fine, graffiti, mural and tattoo artist from Puerto Rico. He moved to Brooklyn in 2009 and is a well-established urban beautification artist. Past works include Urban Nation Berlin for the U.N. Museum for Urban Contemporary Art, Los Muros Hablan New York, Color Libre Puerto Ricomural project, Art Basel Miami in the Wynwood Design District, and the Gateways to Newark Project, “Portraits Mural,” — the longest mural on the entire East Coast!
Rimx says, “I chose the Yellow-headed Blackbird because aesthetically I love its colors.”
Pinyon Jay by Mary Lacy at 3668 Broadway, NYC
The well-being of this sky-blue Pinyon Jay is inexorably tied to the availability of conifer trees and pinyon seeds. Audubon predicts that this species’ acceptable climate realm will be withdrawing in the summer and winter, and will be “contracted further” into the Intermountain West.
“I would say that the reason I chose the Pinyon Jay is that I loved the blues! I liked the relatively monochromatic color scheme because it gives me more freedom to play within that one color and the colors become more about dimension and shape than pattern. No two shapes on the bird are the same color — except its feet,” says Lacy.
Lacy hails from Jericho, Vermont. Her Audubon bio conveys that she commonly concentrates on reintegrating natural beings back into urban landscapes, culture and awareness. She’s a graduate of New York University and has taught students ranging from elementary-aged to undergraduate. Her current project is a cross-country mural-painting tour in 10 cities.