By Susan Delson
This week, an Italian mural artist named Hitnes has been painting a portrait of a fish crow on a wall at Broadway and 155th Street.
It is no coincidence that the six-story-high image stands only a few hundred feet from the grave of artist and naturalist John James Audubon .
In fact, that is the point.
Hitnes’s New York mural caps a three-month odyssey around the eastern U.S., retracing Audubon’s travels of the early 1800s as he sought out and painted many of the species that would appear in his iconic print series “Birds of America.”
But Hitnes’s glossy black squawker isn’t the only painted bird to land in this Upper Manhattan neighborhood, where Audubon spent the last decade of his life.
His mural joins some 20 artworks already on view there, depicting not quite three dozen of the 314 birds on the National Audubon Society’s climate-threatened and climate-endangered lists.
The paintings are part of the Audubon Mural Project, which plans to bring every one of those imperiled birds—painted or sculpted—to the walls, roofs, roll-down gates, window recesses and other architectural crannies of Audubon’s old neighborhood.
A collaboration between the National Audubon Society and Avi Gitler, director of the local gallery Gitler &_____, the project began last year as a modest plan to enliven Mr. Gitler’s block of Broadway with street art painted on a few roll-down gates.