Fox and Friends

Redwood City mural project celebrates city's flora and fauna
Jane Kim recently completed work on her 'Flora from Fauna' mural series in downtown Redwood City.

Don't be alarmed by the cat-sized squirrel thrusting a flower out from the wall near the entrance to the Marshall Street parking garage in downtown Redwood City. As lifelike as it appears—with light glinting at the corner of its left eye and casting a shadow against the beige concrete column behind it, this oversized rodent is only a painting.

It's part of a series of "interactive murals," which the Redwood City Improvement Association has commissioned. Titled "Flora from Fauna," the squirrel—along with other chrysanthemum-clutching critters, like deer, eagles, a fox and a great blue heron—were created by San Francisco-based fine artist and scientific illustrator Jane Kim, and are meant to engage pedestrians and get people to think about the wildlife that surrounds them.

"It's meant to be a little surprising," Kim says. "It's supposed to be like: 'Wait a minute, what's this great blue heron doing here?'"

Whether Kim's work causes passersby to do a double take, she says residents of Redwood City ought not to be too surprised to see the animals she chose to paint—or the chrysanthemums. All of the creatures depicted in her series can be found in or nearby Redwood City, even if they aren't likely to be hanging out downtown.

In this way, the fauna are all "residents" in a sense, she explains. And as for the flora, that has a local angle as well. In addition being known for its meteorological motto, "Climate Best by Government Test," Redwood City was once known as the "Chrysanthemum Capital of the World," as it was home to one of the largest chrysanthemum nurseries anywhere.

Kim, who runs her own studio—Ink Dwell—aims to inspire people to love the Earth and its wide diversity of life. This is not her first time working on a project that merged taxonomy and public art. She worked with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology on the massive "Wall of Birds"—featuring 270 life-sized birds painted on a world map. She is also responsible for a series of six bighorn sheep murals, which can be seen on walls along Highway 395 in California. Her work has been covered in by Juxtapoz, National Geographic and Time.

Flora from Fauna
Downtown Redwood City

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