Air­port tower set for but­ter­fly art­work

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - HICHAM RAACHE

SPRING­DALE — A re­cently ap­proved art piece in­tended to en­liven Spring­dale Mu­nic­i­pal Air­port and high­light an at risk but­ter­fly was dis­cussed by city lead­ers, Mon­day.

The dis­cus­sion was held dur­ing the City Coun­cil Com­mit­tee meet­ing. Mike Abb, cre­ative di­rec­tor for Run­way NWA, a Ben­tonville-based group fo­cused on com­mu­nity en­rich­ment, pre­sented the idea of putting a monarch but­ter­fly art in­stal­la­tion on the air­port’s tower.

“Es­sen­tially what we’re do­ing is we’re re­defin­ing how the air­port looks from

the tower,” Abb said be­fore the meet­ing. “Air­ports gen­er­ally have a bad wrap be­cause they’re phys­i­cally im­pos­ing. They don’t ap­pear to be pub­lic places, but they very much are.”

The art, which will be done in Septem­ber by San Fran­cisco-based Ink Dwell Stu­dios, was ap­proved Thurs­day at the Air­port Com­mis­sion meet­ing. Mayor Doug Sprouse was at the meet­ing.

“I thought it was a real ex­cit­ing project and the Air­port Com­mis­sion agreed,” Sprouse said. “This is in the

Air­port Com­mis­sion’s purview, but the com­mis­sion wanted to be sure ev­ery­one was okay with it.”

Al­der­man Kathy Jay­cox and Al­der­man Jim Reed spoke in sup­port.

“I think it’s a fan­tas­tic idea,” Reed said.

The idea orig­i­nated in early 2016 when Sum­mit Avi­a­tion, a fixed-based op­er­a­tor at the air­port, met with Run­way.

Abb said he was asked to find a way to make avi­a­tion more vis­ually ap­peal­ing to North­west Arkansas res­i­dents.

“The tower was iden­ti­fied as one of the great places where we can make a state­ment or a mes­sage be­cause

of its’ size and di­rect re­la­tion to down­town, the Ra­zor­back Green­way and the ele­men­tary school right next to it,” Abb said. “I said what we should do is make it ed­u­ca­tional and some­thing tied to the area. And I said wouldn’t it be cool if it had to do with na­ture and also had to do with flight.”

Abb said he spoke to Ink Dwell about their Mi­grat­ing Mu­ral ini­tia­tive, which is de­signed to give greater ex­po­sure to species at risk of ex­tinc­tion.

The East­ern, mi­gra­tory pop­u­la­tion of the but­ter­fly of the monarch but­ter­fly has de­clined by 80 per­cent over the last decade, ac­cord­ing to a Sci­en­tific Re­ports ar­ti­cle

pub­lished on www.na­ture.com.

“We felt like the monarch but­ter­fly sys­tem was the ideal species to high­light be­cause of the role they play in an agri­cul­tural ecosys­tem,” Abb said. “The but­ter­fly’s flight is a bonus fea­ture in that it is go­ing in a place that spe­cial­izes in flight.”

The art will be made of pieces fab­ri­cated at Ink Dwell. The project will cost about $25,000 and is be­ing paid for by a pri­vate North­west Arkansas donor, Abb said.

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