Migrating murals


Art meets conservation in the eastern Sierra

The Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep has the unique distinction of being the only endangered bighorn subspecies of three in the United States.

The population dropped to 100 individuals in the 1990s, but has since rebounded, and hit 500 individuals in 2012, spurring optimism for the continued growth and recovery of this rare and unique megafauna.

Artist and science illustrator Jane Kim started her Migrating Mural project last fall with the completion of the first bighorn sheep mural on the Mt. Williamson Motel in Independence.

The project will take a year and include murals of bighorn sheep on buildings along U.S. 395 in Olancha, Bishop, and Lee Vining.

The concept is to fuse art and conservation, bringing awareness of a rare and special species to citizens and travelers by highlighting this species roughly along its habitat range.

Kim conceived the idea while on a long drive.

“As I was looking out into the landscape,” she said, “seeing different buildings, seeing birds fly by, I thought ‘wow, it would make this drive so interesting if there were murals on the buildings that shared stories of different animals that live in this area.’”

And what better animal to highlight than the endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep?

The Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation is hosting a fundraiser at the Mountain Light Gallery in Bishop on Feb. 16, complete with a silent auction of select photos and generous raffle prizes from Sage to Summit.

Tickets are on sale through Sage to Summit, and include a guided field trip spotting bighorn sheep Feb. 17.

The exhibit, called 500 and Rising, will be at the Mountain Light gallery from Feb. 16 through April 30.