Upper Manhattan–once home to famed ornithologist John James Audubon–is becoming quite the place to find amazing bird-themed art. Much of that is thanks to local gallery owner Avi Gitler, who a few years ago began collaborating with the National Audubon Society on a series of public murals devoted to birds threatened by climate change.
Recently Gitler embarked on a similarly-themed sculpture project with the local chapter of Audubon, part of which is taking shape in his gallery right this month. To introduce the artist behind the work, Gitler is holding a special open house this Saturday.
Using that as a jumping off point, now is the perfect time to get better acquainted with both collaborations. And while you're at it, pop on down to Columbia University's new Manhattanville campus to see one more–unrelated to Gitler, but also inspired by Audubon–beautiful homage to our feathered friends.
1. Audubon Sculpture Project Open Studio
Did you know there's a plan to install 12 huge wooden bird sculptures by artist Nicolas Holiber along upper Broadway next spring? Stretching from 64th Street to 166th Street, each piece will represent a threatened bird species that lives or migrates through the city. Head to the one-hour open house at Gitler & _ this Saturday, October 27 from 3pm-4pm to watch Holiber put the finishing touches on the snowy owl that will perch on 148th Street and Broadway starting April 2019. The sculpture will remain on view through the end of the month.
2. George Boorujy's murals for the Audubon Mural Project
It's been four years since Gitler & _ and the National Audubon Society began their buzzy collaboration, and about a third of the 314 bird species threatened by climate change have now been featured in some way. This summer artist George Boorujy helped the project reach the 100 mark with a trio of striking paintings, including portraits of a gang of warblers, an upside-down Black-capped Vireo and a Greater Sage Grouse. Go see them all and you'll understand why Boorujy has contributed the most works so far (five across three locations). "He did the first two panels, and we loved them so much we asked him to do the other[s]," said Jonathan Heller, who works at Gitler & _. "George is an environmentalist and birder and an incredible advocate for our project."
3. Morningside Lights bird lanterns
Columbia University's Morningside Lights is an annual late-summer parade of illuminated lanterns created with the help of the Processional Arts Workshop. In honor of the Year of the Bird, this time around the lanterns were made to resemble colorful birds. The beautiful pieces are now on display at Columbia's just-opened Forum building in Manhattanville. The general public is welcome to walk through the glass-paneled ground floor, giving you plenty of room to admire all the magical creations.