in 2014, the National Audubon Society and Gitler & ___ Gallery collaborated to create The Audubon Mural Project. The project was inspired by the legacy of the American bird artist and ornithologist, John James Audubon, and the specific birds threatened by a warming climate. The project consisted of painting avian-themed murals on more than 300 gates and windows in the neighborhood, promoting the society’s climate-change-awareness campaign. Fast forward to 2020 ~ The Audubon Mural Project completed its first public mosaic, after two-years of work, unveiling in December, 2020 ~ Trumpeter Swans on Broadway and 163rd Street.
Guatemalan artist Juan Carlos Pinto and Brooklyn native John Sear were commissioned in 2018, and after considering a long list of birds threatened by climate change, decided to create the 20 x 7 foot mosaic featuring two Trumpeter Swans in flight.
Designing and prep work on the mosaic took place at their Brooklyn studio ~ and preparation of the site in Washington Heights began. The scraping and peeling of paint from the wall unveiled an existing mural created years before by local graffiti artist, Totem ~ who stepped in in a collaboration on the new project.
90% of the materials used were comprised of salvaged and found objects. As the mosaic pieces were set in place, neighbors gathered enthusiastically to watch, which led the artistic duo to hold a few workshops for them on how to cut glass, and install pieces on the wall in a true community collaboration.
The Trumpeter Swans mosaic is meant to bring awareness of the plight of endangered birds, climate ~ and at the same time, anawareness of our policy on immigrants and migration.
The mosaic is an extension of The Audubon Mural Project, originating with the Gallery, Gitler & __, which was located on 150th Street and Broadway for several years.
Gitler & __ original project, The Audubon Mural Project, grew to include a collaboration with The National Audubon Society, NYC Audubon and The Broadway Mall Association in commissioning the artist, Nicolas Holiber to create ten large sculptures which were placed on the Broadway medium from 68th Street to 168th Street in 2019. The large-scale public works were entitled Birds on Broadway and were on view until 2020.
Check out all of the gates created in The Audubon Mural Project in Audubon’s article, Where Birds Meet Art and The Audubon Mural Project on Google Maps, which includes the gravesite of John James Audubon in Trinity Church Cemetery at West 155th Street, between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway.
The Audubon Mural Project, Trumpeter Swans Mosaic, is located at 601 West 163rd Street, NYC.
We’ve followed Gitler & __ to Santa Barbara, California, where they are mounting seven solo (and two-person) exhibitions and a residency.
Want to see more street art from local artists? Check out the #100GatesProject East Harlem + #100GatesProject Staten Island ~ #100GatesProject Lower East Side ~ The Graffiti Wall of Fame ~ White Park in East Harlem ~ Graffiti in the Sky at 4 World Trade Center, The Murals Project in and around The Oculus ~ Artolution in the East Village ~ Uptown GrandScale I and II, and one of the original artists painting gates, the Picasso of Harlem, Franco the Great! Check out the mosaic, Spirit of Harlem, dedicated to the Harlem Community. The DOTArt Asphalt Art Activations Street Mural, Rice Terraces on Doyers Street, all the wonderful artistically personalized open-air outdoor dining spaces ~ and murals making a political or social statement like several created by Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya on Anti-Asian Racism. We can’t close without mentioning one of our favorite ‘murals’, The Brooklyn Glyphs, which was an enormous temporary installation, with the building now demolished, and replaced with new construction. These are just a few of the wonderful murals around the five boroughs of NYC.