8/10/15: Public Art Set to Bloom Across Erie County

Modified: August 28, 2015 9:45am

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Poloncarz Shows Off Wildflower Box  Poloncarz Announces New Public Art Initiative

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz (second from right) is joined by officials from the City of Buffalo and Albright-Knox Art Gallery to display the new Community Seed Station at Mattie’s Restaurant in Buffalo; County Executive Poloncarz (at podium) is joined by (L-R) Albright-Knox Art Gallery Senior Curator Dr. Cathleen Chaffee, Public Art Curator Aaron Ott (behind Poloncarz), City of Buffalo Deputy Commissioner of Community Services Otis Barker, and owner of Mattie’s Restaurant George Holt to unveil the new public art initiative. 

Rewilding New York (Community Seed Stations) will Disperse Native Wildflower Seeds Across WNY 

ERIE COUNTY, NY— Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Albright-Knox Art Gallery Senior Curator Dr. Cathleen Chaffee, Albright-Knox Curator of Public Art Aaron Ott, community business leaders and residents to announce the newest installation in the Public Art Initiative, an innovative arts partnership between Erie County, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and the City of Buffalo. The new project, Rewilding New York (Community Seed Stations) by artist Jenny Kendler, involves the community dispersal of native wildflower seeds to residents throughout the Western New York area, revitalizing and reintroducing these plants throughout our region.  

For distribution of the seeds, ten boxes (traditional news stand boxes known as “honor boxes”) will be covered in a floral design generated by the artist. Each box will contain free packets of native wildflower seeds for the public to take and plant in their communities, helping revive our ecosystem with plant-life indigenous to the region and providing valuable food sources for adult Monarch butterflies and other pollinators. 10,000 seed packets will be dispersed through this project, with seed boxes located in the City of Buffalo and surrounding suburbs.

“Public art is meant to be enjoyed by all, and this project will bring the artistic beauty of natural wildflowers to all corners of Erie County. In urban, suburban, and rural settings, public art will literally be in bloom as these native plants add their color, vibrancy, and diversity to our landscape,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “The interplay between art and nature has been highlighted in previous Public Art installations, such as the Shayne Dark exhibit currently at the Botanical Gardens. These Community Seed Stations will put the power of nature, along with the power to create art, directly into the hands of residents and enable them to beautify not only their own space, but our county as well. I want to thank Director Siren and Public Art Curator Aaron Ott for their vision and commitment throughout this Initiative and for making this public art publicly accessible.” 

A hardy variety of eleven wildflower species has been selected and will be provided by the Ontario-based Wildflower Farm, which operates a Buffalo-based warehouse and focuses on facilitating low maintenance native wildflowers, specifically working with and circulating plants that require no watering, no fertilizing, and minimal annual maintenance. The species of native wildflowers selected for inclusion in this project are white yarrow, anise hyssop, red milkweed, common milkweed, lance leaf coreopsis, purple coneflower, ox eye sunflower, bergamot (bee balm), stiff goldenrod, black-eyed susan, and New England aster. 

“Through its cooperative nature and community-based distribution, Jenny Kendler’s public art project will contribute to our sense of civic pride,” Chaffee said. “It adds the beauty of wildflowers to our yards and community spaces while also improving our local environment and the wildlife it supports. This project demonstrates the expanding nature of contemporary art and the extent to which public art can be utilized in realizing positive social and environmental change.”

A number of locations have been identified county-wide for the finished boxes, with a concentration on Buffalo’s East Side. Seed boxes will be located at: Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, Buffalo; the Broadway Market, 999 Broadway, Buffalo, NY 14212; Mattie’s Restaurant, 1412 Fillmore Ave, Buffalo, NY 14211; Lt. Col. Matt Urban Hope Center, 385 Paderewski Drive, Buffalo, NY 14212; Urban Roots, 428 Rhode Island Street, Buffalo, NY 14213; Orchard Park Public Library, 4570 S Buffalo St, Orchard Park, NY 14127; Clarence Farmers Market, 10717 Main St, Clarence, NY 14031; Explore and More Children’s Museum, 300 Gleed Ave, East Aurora, NY 14052; Burchfield Nature Preserve, 2001 Union Rd, West Seneca, NY 14224; and in the Bark Park at Ellicott Creek Park in Tonawanda.

Other recent projects completed through the Public Art Initiative collaboration include artist Shayne Dark’s Natural Conditions installation, unveiled at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens in May; artist Casey Riordan Millard’s hugely popular Shark Girl sculpture, which has been attracting visitors to Canalside since August 2014; and artist Jaume Plensa’s thought-provoking Silent Poets sculpture, which debuted at Canalside in spring 2015. 

These are in addition to other projects such as Tape Art’s 2014 installation of Buffalo Caverns, a massive, temporary mural-style drawing made with painter’s tape on the exterior walls of the Central Library in downtown Buffalo; artist Matthew Hoffman’s You Are Beautiful billboard campaign throughout Erie County, conducted in a unique partnership with Lamar Advertising; and artist Charles Clough’s collaboratively produced Arena Painting, which is installed in the newly constructed wing of the Hamburg Public Library. The Public Art Initiative has also distributed 30,000 art kits to students throughout Erie County.