Join us at Brushes & Birds


Birds of a Feather Create Together at National Aviary’s Brushes and Birds Weekend Featuring Maria DeSimone Prascak of Maria’s Ideas

A community mural featuring iconic National Aviary birds, painting classes with Maria with live owl and sloth subjects, hands-on activities, and parrot painting spark creativity for all ages

(Pittsburgh, PA) October 18, 2019 – Flock to the National Aviary November 2 and 3, pick up a brush, and get creative during Brushes and Birds featuring Maria DeSimone Prascak of Maria’s Ideas! This family-friendly weekend will feature a host of activities designed to spark creativity and encourage connections to nature, included with admission each day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.Paint multiple large canvases that will become a community mural, embellish custom coloring pages featuring members of the National Aviary’s flock, and seek out pieces to a scavenger hunt mosaic, all designed by Maria exclusively for the National Aviary. Art supplies for Brushes and Birds have been generously provided by the PPG Colorful CommunitiesTM program and Blick Art Materials.

Visitors can leave their mark on the National Aviary during Brushes and Birds when they contribute to a 30-foot mural comprised of multiple canvases, designed by Maria, which will hang in the National Aviary once completed. The mural features stars of the National Aviary’s flock, like Bubba the Palm Cockatoo, Sapphira and Benito the Hyacinth Macaws, and even all three Linnaeus’s Two-toed Sloths. Following a “paint-by-number” process, each visitor can bring a section of the mural to life.

During Brushes and Birds, visitors of all ages can complete a mosaic scavenger hunt, seeking out pieces as they explore the National Aviary’s lush habitats and assembling them to reveal a special image. Custom coloring pages designed by Maria feature iconic birds and animals of the National Aviary.

For $40 per person, visitors can create a sloth or owl painting to take home during classes instructed by Maria DeSimone Prascak, an artist with over 37 years of experience. Maria will lead two classes both days during Brushes and Birds weekend. Each class will enjoy visits from a live model: a sloth, or a Eurasian Eagle-owl! Canvases, paints, and brushes are included with registration. Space is limited. Advance registration opens soon. Visit for details.

The National Aviary’s birds will get in on the festivities, too. Included with admission, at 11:30 a.m. on both days, visitors can watch a true master at work as a parrot practices “Parrot Painting.” The parrot will paint a canvas, holding the brush in its bill. This is a fun activity for the intelligent bird that encourages its natural ability to use tools, and engages its senses.

Pittsburgh artist Maria DeSimone Prascak has been passionate about art her entire life and is celebrating 37 years in business at Maria’s Ideas, perched in the South Side Slopes. Working in acrylics and other media, including watercolor, pen and ink, and mixed media, she is inspired by her love of nature, as well as all things magical and fantastical. Maria has been featured in designer show houses, local television shows, newspapers, and national magazines. Her enchanting, colorful artwork adorns iconic Pittsburgh landmarks including PPG Paints Arena, the Federal Courthouse in Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, and numerous restaurants, cafes, and businesses. Maria’s prints are available for purchase in the National Aviary’s Gift Shop. Learn more about Maria DeSimone Prascak and view her artwork online at

The National Aviary will be closed November 1, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, and will close early on New Year’s Eve.


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About the National Aviary:

The National Aviary is America’s only independent indoor nonprofit zoo dedicated to birds. Located in Allegheny Commons Park on Pittsburgh’s historic Northside, the National Aviary’s diverse collection comprises 500 birds representing more than 150 species from around the world, many of them threatened or endangered in the wild. The National Aviary’s large walk-through habitats create an intimate, up-close interaction between visitors and free-flying birds, including opportunities to hand-feed and to meet many species rarely found in zoos anywhere else in the world. For more information, visit

The National Aviary inspires respect for nature through an appreciation of birds.