Located at 5601 Old Cheney Road in Lincoln, NE. Design by Aileen Wiles.
Located at 5601 Old Cheney Road in Lincoln, NE. Design by Aileen Wiles.


Bigger Than Life Birds: Behind the Bird Billboards

“Watching Blue Jays in the morning over a cup of coffee, they just demand your attention!”

Birds do demand attention, especially now during migration and breeding season. And 40-foot Meadowlarks and Blue Jays definitely caught the interest of Audubon Nebraska.

The birds in question are bigger than life. Much bigger. Billboard-sized, in fact.

Deb Arenz, Director of Public Arts Lincoln, mentioned that during the current directed health measures and times of financial uncertainty, they wanted to refocus from raising money for the city’s public art collection to something that could benefit the community and local artists. This led to the creation of Public Art Lincoln’s Billboard Project. Dozens of artists submitted designs for the billboards from Lamar Advertising, but only 10 were chosen. Two of which featured birds.

Blue Jays are a main part of local artist Danny Reneau’s design on the billboard at 44th and Cornhusker. And while this may only be the second time Reneau has used Blue Jays in his art (the first being years ago when sketching his high school mascot from Junction City, Kansas), these are the largest birds or animals represented in Reneau’s career.

In addition to demanding his attention, Reneau’s choice to use birds also stemmed from their “striking shapes and silhouettes” as visual objects. “Their variety of color and patterns… who doesn’t know that “muddy” color on the back of a Robin.”

Or the brilliance of our state bird, the Western Meadowlark.

Aileen Wiles, a teaching artist and print-maker in Lincoln, also chose a feathered friend for her imagery of togetherness and perseverance. Wiles has a love for illustrating animals and was looking for something “strong and beautiful” to go with the message of resilience on her piece for the Billboard Project. She was listening to the birds singing in her backyard when she received the notice that Public Arts Lincoln was accepting submissions.

“I wanted to make a mosaic showing smaller parts can make things better as a whole,” commented Wiles when asked about her meadowlark billboard, “and I just knew I wanted to be a part of this project.” 

Wiles and Reneau have a love of illustrating and graphic arts. Reneau is especially inspired by comic books, and both artists have provided illustrations for children’s books and local Lincoln non-profits in recent years.

It’s easy to say that the lovely bird images created by Danny and Aileen are not only the largest in their portfolio, but are also a wonderful way to represent the resilience of nature, neighborhoods, and community. As Reneau’s billboard states, “Life Finds a Way.”

The artwork on all 10 billboards will remain up through the month of June. For more information and locations: http://www.lincolnpublicart.org/billboard-art-2020/

Danny Reneau’s billboard is located at 44th & Cornhusker. For more on Danny and his art: @Danny.Reneau on Instagram.

Aileen Wiles’ meadowlark is on the billboard at 5601 Old Cheney Road. For more on Aileen and her art: @simplyprinted on Instagram.


About Audubon

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive.

Media Contact

Jason St. Sauver, Director of Education and Outreach

(402) 797-2301, jason.stsauver@audubon.org


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