AUSTIN (KXAN) — No, your eyes don’t deceive you: Those are, in fact, blue trees in Austin.

Volunteers are painting tree trunks at Pease Park this week as part of The Blue Trees project, a social commentary art installation developed by artist Konstantin Dimopoulos. The initiative aims to highlight the beauty of nature and what’s lost through forest clearances.

The water-based colorant — which isn’t harmful to trees — is painted on and washes away over several months as a visual representation of environmental degradation. Between 50 and 75 trees are expected to be painted for the project, said Chuck Smith, the chief operating officer for the Pease Park Conservancy.

Environmental conservation is a concept, Smith said, that has appealed to the masses. Hundreds of volunteers have helped paint the town blue.

“We literally have people from preschool to senior citizens,” Smith said. “This is something that everyone can participate in, it’s something that people of all ages care about which is also good, and we’ve been thrilled with the community response.”

Austin joins more than 30 cities around the world that have participated in creating The Blue Trees projects. Other notable cities include Houston, Seattle and Albuquerque, and countries such as Singapore, Germany and New Zealand.

This project, Smith added, is a long time coming. The conservancy initially began discussing the art installation in 2019, but the endeavor was delayed due to COVID-19.

The conservancy initially planned to unveil the project when the renovated Kingsbury Commons reopened last summer. With the COVID-related delays, that was pushed back to this spring.

But despite the longer-than-anticipated unveiling, Smith said he’s excited to highlight the project to neighborhood residents, Austinites and visitors alike.

“We felt that it was a perfect fit to welcome people back to Kingsbury Commons, back to this space, while simultaneously raising awareness about the importance of trees in everyone’s lives,” he said.

While volunteers have familiarized themselves with Dimopoulos’ environmental vision, not everyone might be aware of his work or the messaging behind it, Smith said. Educational materials will be available for parkgoers on site and on the conservancy’s website.

He said he hopes this instills curiosity in visitors along with research, awareness and activism. What better way to capture someone’s attention than with a blue tree?

“It’s a purposeful intent to draw people to the trees and then hopefully, if they’re inclined to engage in the educational components that are available….that tie the installation into ecology and the environment, the negative impacts of global deforestation and the importance of trees both to humans as well as to the environment and habitat.”