Hyde Street’s stunning butterfly mural is quickly becoming a San Francisco landmark and a national force behind the preservation of pollinator habitats. Flurries of #migratingmural posts are spreading the word along with recent press, and recently Outside Magazine’s popular podcast took a deep dive on it with artist-couple Jane Kim and Thayer Walker. One excerpt, starting at minute 22:00./* */ ?>
Walker: “We were looking for a building for a canvas and found a nice 4-story owned by Veritas.”
Outside: “Walker left a long-winded voice mail and figured it would probably end there.”
Walker: “Unbelievably, I get a call back, saying, ‘Hey, can you come in for a meeting?’ And they turned it back around to us and said, ‘About a half a block away, we’ve got this 13-story tower. What would you think about that? …. and instead of just one side, how about doing the whole building?’
“Suddenly, they were pitching us, on expanding the project beyond our wildest dreams.”
The now-complete 50-foot-tall butterflies are also accomplishing the mission of educating people about urban pollinators and providing a sweeping visual statement amid the urban landscape. Work is still finishing up on 455 Hyde’s doorway entry area where guests will walk through a bevy of butterflies.
Jane Kim conceived and executed the work as part of her Migrating Mural project that began in 2012. The art installations across the country depict endangered species in or near their habitats, said Kim. She and her husband, Walker, own Ink Dwell, a Bay Area-based studio that combines classic scientific illustration with fine art.
The engaging San Francisco mural is one of several steps Veritas is taking to encourage the expansion of living space for endangered pollinating insects, including at much-anticipated local parks.
On March 2, San Francisco Mayor London Breed presided over the rededication of the Turk-Hyde Mini Park just three blocks from the Hyde building. The park includes a new mosaic tiled bench depicting monarch butterflies, pollinators and the natural habitat of the park, commissioned by RentSFNow’s parent company, Veritas. Another park in the Tenderloin is also being refurbished; both parks were planted with 100% pollinator friendly plants.
“As a company and as individuals, Veritas is committed to the communities in which we operate,” said Veritas’ Jeff Jerden. “Pollinators are a crucial part of the environment.”
Veritas joined other groups in advocating for pollinator-friendly plantings at these and other city parks, and installed the same at 455 Hyde.
Kim told the Outside podcast she felt the inspiration for the Migrating Mural installations when she was commuting as a graduate student at California State University, Monterey Bay.
In 2012, Kim finished the first mural, depicting an endangered Sierra bighorn ram, in Independence, California, a small town along Interstate 395 in Inyo County.
“It’s easy to forget hard-to-see wildlife, but through a collection of murals painted along migration corridors, the transient life of these animals can easily be seen,” Kim said.
Pollinator preservation efforts comes none too soon for the iconic monarch butterflies, which numbered about 4.5 million during winter counts in the 1980s. The figure dropped to 27,000 by last year and held at 29,000 for this year, according to the Xerces Society, a preservation group that conducted the survey and works with InkDwell, Veritas and other groups.
Putting native plants in the ground makes a significant impact, Walker said. “You can actually go home in your backyard and do something to protect monarchs and pollinators.”