Someone modified Golden Gate Park’s former Junipero Serra statue into a statue of the extinct Xerces blue butterfly for Earth Day, but the SF Arts Commission got all aflutter and took the statue down.  

Anyone who remembers the old Billboard Liberation Front will surely be impressed with a rogue Earth Day action that went down in Golden Gate Park last weekend. As Broke-Ass Stuart reported on Wednesday, someone put up an unauthorized butterfly statue in Golden Gate Park, on the dais that had previously been home to the Junipero Serra statue, before that statue was torn down during the George Floyd protests of 2020. The unauthorized statue honored the Xerces blue butterfly, which is now extinct, and was last seen in 1943 at what we now call the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

From a technical standpoint, the new rogue butterfly statue was a real marvel of design and execution, and certainly looked to have been done by an experienced and professional sculptor (full photo here). It even came with a lovely golden plaque saying, “Memorial to the extinct Xerces blue butterfly. Driven to extinction by urban development and the destruction of sand dunes of the San Francisco peninsula. The Xerces blue was last seen in the Presidio on March 23, 1943.”

That may all make your heart fly, but we have to bring you down. Today, reported that the butterfly statue was removed, because the San Francisco Arts Commission does not allow unauthorized statues.

“Earlier this week, San Francisco Arts Commission’s Civic Art Collection staff was made aware of ‘Memorial to the Extinct Xerces Blue Butterfly', an unauthorized sculpture intervention of unknown provenance by an unidentified artist or group of artists that was installed on the vacant plinth that was previously the base of the Padre Junipero Serra (1906) statue,” the Arts Commission said in a statement, “The sculpture was taken down and removed off-site the morning of Friday, April 28, 2023.”

“The Arts Commission must approve the temporary or permanent installation of any work of art on City and County of San Francisco (CCSF) property,” the statement added. “The manner in which this unsanctioned and unpermitted work that was surreptitiously installed without going through the proper process and procedure as outlined in the Art Commission’s Guidelines for Temporary Public Art installations poses numerous safety concerns.”

Nothing has been on that statue plinth (the base of it) since the Junipero Serra statue was torn down. And the Arts Commission's statement adds they’re in the “process of exploring opportunities for future activations and use” for that statue.

So who knows, maybe we can pull some kind of social media or informal lobbying campaign like we did with the Eye of Sauron on Salesforce Tower for Halloween, and get the Arts Commission to approve and install some safe and sanctioned version of the butterfly statue in the future.  

Related: Eyeroll: SF Archbishop Holds Exorcism, Asks For God's Mercy For Toppled Junipero Serra Statue [SFist]Image: SF Arts Commission