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Four new butterfly statues have landed in Mission, bringing the community staple count to 47 colorful symbols.
This week, the four sculptures were displayed at popular Mission locations – one at Valley Land Title Co., one at Aladdin Villas and two at the Split Rails RV Park & Resort. Former Upper Valley Art League President and Director Maxilou Link first saw this project take off the ground four years ago.
“We started with ten, with the city,” Link said. “From there it just blossomed out.”
With the four new sculptures, there are now 47 total dotted around the city. Link said after the original ten were placed, they received requests to have them installed at various locations.
“A lot of businesses wanted them, people wanted them in their front yard,” Link said. “Of course, all the RV parks said ‘we have to have one, period.’”
Link said the purpose for the butterfly statues is to foster the kind of community spirit other cities have with their famous symbols.
“The idea in the beginning was because a lot of other cities have a motto or icon that they use,” Link said. “Here we are down in the Valley, and our most precious thing is our butterflies.”
Keeping the spirit of the butterfly alive all year, no matter the season, is important according to Link.
“We decided we needed butterflies that you can touch every day of the week, and even sit on and have your photograph taken,” Link said. “That’s where it all started, it just sort of grows and grows.”
The sculptures are ordered from a couple in Reynosa, Mexico, who build the base out of fiberglass and reinforce the top with steel wings. Based on the species and type of butterfly, they then cut the wings and paint them to reflect the natural colors that one may see fluttering around the Rio Grande Valley.
“They’re not put together overnight,” Link said. “We have a lady in the community who has a photograph of almost every butterfly – every time we get a new one, she goes out and takes a picture. It brings people together.”
For Link, seeing new butterflies installed never gets old.
“It excites me, I’ll never get complacent about this,” Link said. “This just makes me more excited every day – the more we see, the better. Look what it does for Mission. It makes me happy, and I hope we get a whole lot more.”
She added that in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, people can still take drives and make it out to see the butterflies.
“At this time, we can still drive our cars and we can always spend a day going to look for butterflies,” Link said. “They’re six-foot and have green leaves with beautiful steel wings at the top – we can always make a day of that, you don’t even have to get out of your car.”