A new mural project in Bozeman aims to highlight endangered species in the state, and organizers are still looking for spaces to put the art.

Craighead Institute, a conservation science and research organization, is spearheading the Threatened and Endangered Species Project with help from Sweet Pea Festival. The 12 murals will depict endangered species in Montana, ranging from the grizzly bear to the Spalding’s campion plant.

The murals will go up on the outside of private homes and businesses. Organizers are still looking for property owners who are willing to house the public art.

The institute received a $2,000 grant from Sweet Pea Festival to pay for materials and artist commissions. Kris Olenicki, executive director of Sweet Pea, said the mural project is a perfect fit for the festival’s grant program.

“We thought it was such a cool project. And it’s public art so it really fits with what we want to do,” Olenicki said.

April Craighead, a wildlife biologist at the institute, came up with the project and said she was inspired by the Audubon Mural Project in New York City.

The National Audubon Society created the project in 2014. According to its website, the murals depict birds threatened by climate change and the project aims to complete 314 of them. So far, 117 are done.

The colorful bird paintings can be found on the sides of old high-rises or garage doors on store fronts. The society offers a walking tour of the murals throughout the city.

Craighead said she would like the murals in Bozeman to make people stop and think about endangered species.

“From my perspective, I want this to be educational on Montana’s wildlife,” Craighead said.

The first mural of the Bozeman project is finished.

Artist and engineer Juliene Sinclair created the art depicting two whooping cranes. Sinclair has created two other murals in town — one on the outside of the Montana Angler fly shop and one in Lindley Park.

The cranes are on the side of a private garage on North Broadway Avenue in northeast Bozeman. An intricate mandala fills in the background behind the birds.

Sinclair estimates it took her 30 hours to create the mural. She planned the piece by printing out a photo of the garage wall and sketching the cranes on the photo. But once she actually started painting, it was freehand.

“It takes lots of stepping back to see the whole wall,” Sinclair said.

Sweet Pea Festival-goers voted to decide which mural would be created next, and the pallid and white sturgeon won. Organizers are still trying to find the right spot for it.

Craighead said the institute is not giving direction for what the pieces should look like, and she said she likes the creativity the artists bring to the table.

“It’s neat to have some different interpretations,” Craighead said.

Support quality local journalism. Become a subscriber.

Subscribers get full, survey-free access to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle's award-winning coverage both on our website and in our e-edition, a digital replica of the print edition.