Fluttering Splendor as 'On the Wing' Gallery Opens in the RAD - TribPapers

Fluttering Splendor as ‘On the Wing’ Gallery Opens in the RAD

An encased Owl butterfly in an acrylic encasement. Photo by Anthony Abraira.

Asheville – Upon entering 20 Artful Way, visitors are transported to a world of wonder reminiscent of a vintage apothecary. However, instead of limited color tinctures, On the Wing greets guests with a burst of high luminosity and vibrant shine. The acrylic cases housing these stunning collections of Lepidoptera (butterflies) are a testament to the masterful craft in which Sam Trophia and David Trophia suspends these butterflies, showcasing their prismatic qualities as shimmering leaves of natural psychedelic expression.

Owners Shane and his partner Sam Trophia have recently ventured from Key West to bring their unique artistic vision to life in the River Arts District. Having recently handed off operational duties at their butterfly conservatory in Key West and Sam joining his brother Asheville resident David Trophia, the completed Trophia trio present this novel gem among the talented works already on display in the River Arts District.

Store front entrance. On the Wing gallery officially opened on April 11th. Photo by Anthony Abraira.
Store front entrance. On the Wing gallery officially opened on April 11th. Photo by Anthony Abraira.

The meticulous process behind On the Wing involves sourcing farm-raised butterflies that have naturally died, rehydrating them, and delicately handling their wings to preserve their vibrant colors. Their displays range from a single Monarch to a large cases housing over a hundred of color harmonies. Each butterfly undergoes hours of preparation and setting before being showcased in the stunning displays at the gallery. “Each one of these butterflies requires many hours to prepare and place,” explained David Trophia. These butterflies are placed in static outspread formations either, but instead are carefully positioned into a lively form, capturing the essence of them in life.

The Trophias have dedicated themselves to preserving the monarch population through various efforts aimed at raising awareness and supporting conservation programs. Established 22 years ago, The Trophia Butterfly Foundation works towards ensuring milkweed plantings throughout the compromised pathway regions remained plentiful. As Shane elucidated, “without milkweed you don’t have butterflies since its their only host plant.” Furthermore the foundation focuses on educating school programs about pollinators and increased butterfly awareness. Their reach now extends from Florida to New York and North Carolina.

In an effort to save the mysterious flyway paths crucial for monarch migration, On the Wing aims to establish a preserve for these majestic creatures on 7-8 acres in upstate New York. “Urbanization has disrupted traditional flyway patterns,” explained Shane, leading monarchs to settle in Florida where lack of seasons has caused inbreeding issues that threaten their existence. The gallery’s mission is not only to showcase beautiful art but also contribute towards ensuring a sustainable future for butterflies.

While open for visitors now, On the Wing plans an official grand opening at the beginning of May featuring more contributing jewelers celebrating the majesty of monarchs and other butterflies. As they continue to refine their vision and expand their efforts towards conservation, this unique art gallery promises a truly enchanting experience for all who enter its doors and its patronage ensuring the future for the Monarchs of North America.