I lift my morning margarita to those who creatively message about climate change. Weekly Masterpiece icon

In October 2014, just weeks after the release of the Audubon Birds and Climate Change Report, a gallery owner and artist approached the Audubon Society with an audacious and unconventional idea for spreading the word about the plight of birds: Street art. Murals. Murals of climate-threatened birds.

a fish crow

a fish crow

Avi Gitler’s gallery, Gitler &_____ Gallery in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of New York’s Harlem, on Broadway between 149th and 150th streets, is just a few short blocks south of the Hudson River estate where John James Audubon lived the final ten years of his life. Wanting to honor America’s greatest bird artist and educate on climate change, Gitler commissioned a series of bird murals to cover the rolling steel security grates that descend over business facades at closing time. He involved a neighborhood painter, Tom Sanford and his next-door neighbor, Audubon VP Mark Jannot.

Gitler’s mural plan morphed and expanded a bit—from maybe a dozen birds to 314, a depiction of every one of the species identified as climate-threatened or endangered in the Audubon Report. The public art will flow throughout the Hamilton Heights and Washington Heights neighborhoods of upper Manhattan, creating a tremendous outdoor gallery of birds. All paintings are tagged with the URL of the Audubon Mural Project. And the goal of this project? Intrigued passersby would check it out and learn more about this existential threat to birds, about how they can take action to help head it off.

black-throated blue warbler

black-throated blue warbler

And so, voila! Here we are.

The artists are incredibly interesting. Painter of the bluebird is Lunar New Year, artist, muralist and interloper defined by borders and hybridity. His artwork and murals question politics, injustice and cross-cultural identity by making visible the stories that are often left invisible and silenced. His iconography spans a wide combination of mythology, portraiture and secular signifiers. LNY is also an educator, organizer, and public speaker for such projects as Young New Yorkers in Brooklyn, Yollocalli Arts Reach in Chicago and City Without Walls in Newark.

Hitnes is from Rome and painted the fish crow above. His work spans the genres of graffiti, illustration, fine art. Since 2012 he has taught screen-printing courses at Rome’s European Institute of Design (IED). His work with the Audubon Mural Project capped a three-month odyssey called The Image Hunter, where he retraced John James Audubon’s steps around America and completed 15 murals across the country. See all of them here.

Please contact Avi Gitler if you’re an artist or an upper-Manhattan landlord/business owner who would like to participate in this project. Or maybe you’re interested in supporting the project in any other way—spray paint sponsors urgently sought!

Cool Mona Note: Musicians also offer their talents to stop climate change. So what are WE doing?