LITTLE ROCK, Ark — After a contentious election season, we offer a chance for us all to heal, to relax. It's a time for peace, for butterflies— four stories high.
His name is Yuri Counsell, but he goes by the name of Mantra. For the last two weeks, he has been painting butterflies on the east side of the Ottenheimer building in the River Market.
Public art has been his passion for almost a decade.
"I never really counted how many murals I painted in my career. Fortunately, after more than 10 years of painting worldwide, I'm still here and able to paint far from home," Mantra said.
Mantra is from France, as is Charlotte Dutoit, founder and curator of Just Kids -- the organization that helped make Mantra and the butterflies happen.
"We have done already three projects with him in Las Vegas and Fort Smith and now Little Rock," Dutoit said.
Bentonville's Oz Art, along with The Unexpected out of Fort Smith, is also a part of an effort to get 12 murals installed in nine Arkansas communities, all by world-renowned artists.
Mantra hopes his butterflies activate our community like they did his imagination when he was a boy back in France, enthralled by what he saw in the family garden.
"All the time spent there, I just fell in love and really being curious about all the small lives, and between fauna flowers, all the flowers and the insects and the birds, we can just finally appreciate in the garden," Mantra explained.
And now, those small lives made big in Little Rock, represent more than his childhood.
"Butterflies are something really unpredictable and unexpected, sometimes appear as a wishing star and then disappear in the next second," Mantra said.
Mantra's life will always shadow this mural, representing a calling that has become a bridge.
"My choice was, as a teenager, I really wanted to find my place in this global society and be able far from borders, far from languages, to be part of humanity," Mantra said.
"So I finally had a good answer as painting can connect me with people and connect me with cultures."
And in turn, produce butterflies that we can all enjoy together.
Other cities getting murals from Oz Art, The Unexpected, and Just Kids, are Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale, Fort Smith, Conway, Hot Springs, Pine Bluff, and Stuttgart.
Art that unifies all of us.