Imagine my surprise and delight (and his too), when, having completed the design work and most of the glaze painting for this mural, I received this email from Jim Denny, whose spectacular photographs form the basis of this mural.

I thought you would be interested to know that I have recently discovered and am the first to photo-document the first new butterfly species in Hawaii in 30 years!  It is the Large Orange Sulphur (Phoebus agarithe).  It is our first yellow butterfly.  It is native to extreme South Texas and to most of Mexico and Latin America.  At this point I do not know how it was introduced to the Hawaiian Islands.  I first saw it on Maui last December and on the Big Island in May.  I am now seeing it here almost daily.  It is extremely difficult to photograph as it almost never lands (a frustrating characteristic also exhibited by the Chinese Swallowtail).  I have attaché some photos for you to paint.         Aloha,  Jim Denny
The Butterflies of Hawai'i
The Butterflies of Hawai’i, 2005, is an architectural painted relief by Calley O’Neill with Jim Sender and Lamar Yoakum. It is done in Politec, which is the first acrylic paint in the world formulated by the Mexican mural masters and a chemist at the Polytechnical Institute in Mexico City.  The well-sealed exterior work, approximately 7’ by 11’, is done on marine plywood and mounted on the stone wall. 

The relief depicts the 16 butterflies of Hawai’i, including the new one discovered by Jim.  It is Hawai’i’s first yellow butterfly named the Large Orange Sulphur.  A native to extreme South Texas and to most of Mexico and Latin America, the small, yellow newcomer appears perched up on top of the wall post in painted fired stained glass. 

Inside the main circle are the malihini butterflies, or introduced species.  Outside, directly on the stone wall, are the precious natives: 

  • The Kamehameha Lady (Vanessa tameamea, Eschscholtz, 1821, 2 1/4 to 3 inches) is on the left 
  • Hawaiian Blues. (Udara blackburni, Tuely, 1878, measuring 7/8 to 1-1/8 inches) on the right.
The butterfly is a universal symbol of hope and transformation. When Arlene Block, then president of The Waimea Outdoor Circle suggested to Calley a focus on native butterflies for the mural, Calley was off and running.  She found herself immersed in a study of all the butterflies that reside in the Hawaiian Islands.  

Calley’s freehand drawings and paintings are based on the outstanding work of photographer and Hawaiian butterfly expert, Jim Snyder of Kona. Jim has been photographing butterflies here for over twenty years, allowing people to delight in their ephemeral beauty, often not so easily witnessed.  Several of the butterflies, like the Chinese Swallowtail and the Large Orange Sulphur rarely land, making them extremely difficult to capture on film.  Calley reviewed over 1,000 of Jim’s photos to select her portrait references.  

Very few individuals in the world have ever glimpsed Hawai’i’s only two endemic butterflies. Included in the painted relief are all 16 butterflies that live and thrive here. “It is my hope that these works of art will bring awareness and appreciation to these delicate and magnificent Hawaiian treasures and joy and inspiration to those who see it.”

For more information on Hawaiian butterflies, see Jim Snyder’s terrific web site, and read Hawai’i’s Butterflies and Moths, An Identification Guide to Easily Observed Species, by Dean Jamieson and Jim Denny, Mutual Publishing.

The Butterflies of Hawai'i  exterior relief mural, Politec on panels (8’ X 12’) and (10’ X 20’) relief Malama Pono Center, Kamuela, Hawai'i
In the circle from the top around to the right are: 
  • The American Painted Lady or Painted Beauty (Vanessa virginiensis 1-3/4 to 2-1/2 inches), 
  • the Monarch (Danaus plexippus, 3-1/2 to 4 inches), 
  • The Western Pygmy Blue (Brephidium exilis. This minute butterfly measures 3/8 to 3/4 inch and is the smallest North American butterfly and one of the smallest in the world. It has an unusual degree of size variation in Hawai’i).  
  • The Pea Blue or The Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus, 1 to 1/38 inches), 
  • The Lantana Scrub Hairstreak or The Smaller Lantana Butterfly (Strymon bazochii, 7/8 to 1-1/8 inch, only in Hawai’i and extreme south Texas and Florida),
  • The Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus, about 1-1/4 inches), 
  • The Cabbage Butterfly (Pieris rapae, 1-5/8 to 2-1/4 inches), 
  • The Red Spotted Hairstreak  (The Larger Lantana Butterfly, 1 to 1-1/4 inches, only in Hawai’i, and extreme south Texas and Florida), 
  • The Gulf Fritillary or The Passion Vine Butterfly (Agraulis vanillae, 2 to 3 inches, with an unusual range of sizes in Hawai’i.),
  • The Red Admiral (Vanessa atlanta, 1-3/4 to 2-1/4 inches) and in the center on the left, 
  • The Painted Lady or Cosmopolite (Vanessa cardui, 2 to 2-5/8 inches), and center right, 
  • The Citrus or Chinese Swallowtail (Papilio xuthus, 2-1/2 to 4-3/8 inches, only in Hawai’i).  
  • The newly discovered Large Orange Sulphur (Phoebis agarithe) appears in stained glass on the wall. 
  •  The Banana Skipper (Erionota thrax, about 2-1/2 inches, only in Hawai’i) is perched on a stone, just below the Malama Pono lettering.
Malama Pono

Calley named the building Malama Pono, and cut out and painted the wood letters gold for the stone wall.  In Hawaiian Malama means to care for or to take good care of; and pono means goodness or righteousness. Malama pono means to nurture righteousness and take care of the essential goodness of life. The term Malama pono is often said as an everyday blessing, meaning to take care of yourself, your body and your life.  “It is my hope that each time a passersby sees the words Malama pono in gold on the stone wall, they will pause for a minute to take care of their precious life.  Here are five simple yet powerful practices.”

1.  Offer gratitude.  As taught to Calley by her Kumu, Papa Henry, offer gratitude to the Source by saying mahalo five times and giving thanks for your life and all of your blessings. Gratitude heals!


2.  Take five slow, long deep breaths, nourishing your body, quieting your mind, balancing your emotions and connecting to the Source.  Nothing brings peace and healing faster than deepening your breath. 

3.  Smile, and send your smile inside to your vital organs.  

4.  Drink a bottle of Hawaiian artesian or filtered water. 

5.  Express your love to whomever you are with at the moment.

The magical process of butterfly metamorphosis provides a hopeful analogy for fulfilling individual potential and personal evolution.  The symbol of the butterfly is a reminder that one’s life situation, no matter how challenging, carries within it the precise conditions needed for metamorphosis. From wherever one is, it is possible to come home to love, peace and healing.

Art and Soul for the Earth
 Big Island of Hawai'i