Never underestimate the power of one person to make a big difference.
Corvallis artist Caroline Moses could have painted any butterfly. She was commissioned by local Corvallis salon owner Bessie Kotek, who wanted an interactive mural so that her clients would have a fun way to share their new salon looks with friends. But Moses knew something of Willamette Valley butterflies, especially a particular one.
"My husband is a scientist, and knew of your organization," Moses said one afternoon after stopping by the Institute for Applied Ecology office. "He was involved in some volunteer projects to restore habitat for the Fender's blue butterfly, and I wanted to give back to your habitat restoration work for this Willamette Valley butterfly."
She painted her mosaic-style mural with 6,000 painted tiles - one for each estimated remaining Fender's blue - with each tile representing the actual size of the butterfly. She also garnered two tables full of donated items from local restaurants, shops, and beauty care products for raffle prizes. For her mural opening at the October 19 Corvallis Art Walk, these items were raffled off for the IAE's benefit. Not only is her mural beautiful, but will help IAE plant the native and rare Kincaid's lupine, the primary host plant for Fender's blue butterfly. During the rainy opening, no one was talking about their new hairstyle, but everyone was talking about this endemic and endangered symbol of Willamette Valley prairies. "I've lived here since 1967, and I've always heard about them, but never have seen one," said one visitor. Cardwell Hill Cellars featured their Fender's Blue pinot noir, named in honor of their estate's nearby butterfly populations.
Head over to the Monroe Avenue Salon, 1545 NW Monroe Avenue in Corvallis to see the mural, and help us thank Caroline and Bessie by tagging your selfie with #Bessiesblue and tagging @Applied.ecology.