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  • Words and Photos by John Domine

Lions, Tigers, and Bears... Oh My!

Sonny Sundancer, from Johannesburg, South Africa, has been in town this past month, celebrating the culmination of his "To the Bone Project", with not only an amazing exhibition at 393 Broadway (which goes through tonight), but also a new mural for us to enjoy in the West Village. He painted two other incredible walls for us last year, serving as a daily reminder of the beautiful creatures with whom we share this planet.


The exhibition has been a huge success so far (with a long line wrapped around the corner on opening night), selling out many of the works before the show even opened. But there are still a few pieces remaining, as well as prints of each of the animals in the show (he will be doing live signing from 2pm-4pm today), so head on over before it's too late! His painted wildlife pieces on canvas need to be seen in person to appreciate the incredible details. And, if that's not enough, it is for a good cause, as one major piece (Saha, the Indian Tiger) will be auctioned off, with 100% of the proceeds donated to Discovery's Project C.A.T. (in addition to the 10% already being donated from the show's proceeds).

As well as the paintings on the wall, he also painted eight skulls corresponding to the endangered animals represented on the canvases (except for the elephant and rhino, for obvious reasons); a reminder that we need to protect these creatures before it is too late. Once again, you really need to get up close and personal to these skulls to appreciate the detail.

So, what are you waiting for?


In advance of the show, Sonny painted a 40-foot grizzly bear on the corner of West 8th Street and the Avenue of the Americas for the LISA Project. Add this to the other two walls he painted in Manhattan, a lion peering down from the rooftops onto Allen Street, and a tiger at street-level on Lafayette, and you have the makings of a scene from The Wizard of Oz (Lions, Tigers and Bears...Oh, My!). Even though he may be a wizard of sorts with the paint, this isn't fiction, and this yellow brick road doesn't include good witches to save the day. We will have to do our part if we want to save these animals from extinction.

In July of last year, he painted an endangered Indian tiger as part of Discovery Channel's Project CAT, in collaboration with the LISA Project. If you would like to see the beauty of this wall in person, it is at ground-level, at the corner of Lafayette and Broome Street in SoHo.

The first time Sonny came to New York City, he painted a huge lion above Allen Street, visible from Houston Street. To read all about it, check out the story, "Beauty...To the Bone", we did on our first encounter with the beast, back in July of last year. Here are some of the WIPs from that first wall.

Sadly, with the success of his show and the culmination of his "To the Bone Project", that also means Sonny will be heading back to South Africa. We have enjoyed the gifts he has left in our city and hope he returns to paint another wall for us in the future. May his work be a reminder to us all, that we share this world with some pretty incredible animals. It would be a shame to lose any one of them.

To find out more about his work and the project, visit him at or better yet, stop by the show for its final day today, located at 393 Broadway, just south of Canal Street, in New York City.

And thanks to Sonny for the awesome walls!

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