Bald Eagle painted by Peter Daverington (photograph by Camilla Cerea/National Audubon Society)
Hamilton Heights and Washington Heights in upper Manhattan might not have much resemblance to when they were the home of John James Audubon over a century ago, but a group of artists is revitalizing his connection to the neighborhoods while raising awareness for birds threatened by climate change.
The Audubon Mural Project started this fall with five murals at 3621 Broadway, but hopes to expand to 314 — one for each North American bird cited as endangered or threatened by climate change on the Audubon Report. A collaboration between the National Audubon Society and Gitler &_____ Gallery, so far they include a Tundra Swan painted by Florida-based artist Boy Kong. By 2080, the swan might lose 61 percent of its winter habitat. There’s also the Rusty Blackbird depicted by New York-based artist Taylor McKimens, which may soon be driven north out of its beloved bogs.
All of the murals are on roll gates, meaning they’re mostly visible at night when businesses close and the vibrant murals are revealed as the metal doors are pulled down. Audubon, who died in 1851, is buried not far from the mural project in Trinity Cemetery, his cross tombstone adorned with carvings of birds and other animals. Many of the birds now in danger of habitat loss and relocation are ones he painted back in the 19th century (the conclusion of an exhibition series on them is upcoming at the New-York Historical Society in March).
More artists and business owners and landlords with roll gates are still needed to complete the Audubon Project, and you can find out how to get involved at the project site. Below is a timelapse of some of the completed work:
Rusty Blackbird painted by Taylor McKimens (photograph by Mike Fernandez/National Audubon Society)
Boy Kong working on the Tundra Swan mural (photograph by Camilla Cerea/National Audubon Society)
Tundra Swan painted by Boy Kong (photograph by Camilla Cerea/National Audubon Society)