New Public Art Exhibits Spotlight Colorful Community Creativity, Connectivity

Modified: July 14, 2016 10:14am

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Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by Albright-Knox Art Gallery Director Janné Siren and Curator of Public Art Aaron Ott, Buffalo Center for the Arts and Technology (“BCAT”) Chief Executive Officer Amber Dixon and Board President John Koelmel, and NFTA Executive Director Kim Minkel at the BCAT to announce three new additions to the expanding Public Art Initiative portfolio in Erie County.

A colorful and welcoming building-sized mural completed by BCAT students already graces the exterior wall at BCAT, while another large mural by Buffalo-based artist Daniel Galas will soon be undertaken on the side of the Tri-Main building at 74 Jewett Avenue. Additionally, an installation of six colorful, 11-foot-tall stainless steel sculptures by American artist Shasti O’Leary Soudant will be fabricated locally and positioned to greet travelers at the Allen Street NFTA Station in Buffalo.

“Our Public Art Initiative is blooming all around Erie County with beautiful, eye-catching results. The three new installations we are announcing today highlight the creative power of our youth, the defining profiles of our unparalleled architecture, and the interconnectedness of our community,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “Thanks to Director Siren and Public Art Curator Aaron Ott, more communities are experiencing public art for themselves and are taking part in its creation. The benefits of public art become more apparent with each installation, and we thank our partners at the NFTA for placing an intriguing sculpture at the highly-visible Allen Street station.”

The Albright-Knox's Peggy Pierce Elfvin Director Janne Sirén said, “The Public Art Initiative reflects our vision for a twenty-first century museum that plays an integral, active role in the social and economic life of our region. Public art is out in the community, engaging Western New Yorkers—all Western New Yorkers—in a conversation about our shared environment. Communities need art and culture in order to thrive, and a vibrant cultural landscape is the twenty-first century’s most potent magnet for attracting talent and fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. Our flourishing public art program signals both Buffalo and Erie County’s continuing resurgence.”

The new mural at the BCAT was completed by BCAT students with the guidance of Alice Mizrahi, a New York-based artist, through the Public Art Public School Voices program. The educational, collaborative program was developed by the Albright-Knox and BCAT with support from the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and features a curriculum that teaches students the essential skills for conceptualizing, planning, and executing a community mural. The resulting mural can be seen on the wall of the BCAT at 1221 Main Street in Buffalo.

Iconic Buffalo architecture will be the focus of a new mural covering the outside wall of the Tri-Main Center at 74 Jewett Avenue in Buffalo. Artist Daniel Galas will create a mural that highlights the architecture near the Center, with representations including the Elephant House at the Buffalo Zoo, the Kensington Water Tower, the Darwin D. Martin House, and numerous other buildings. The work will create a new perspective on historic architecture all along Buffalo’s Main Street and present re-imagined forms of the City’s unique urban landscape. A new installation by artist Shasti O’Leary Soudant will greet NFTA riders at the Allen Street Station, creating a convergence of public art and public transportation. Soudant’s installation comprises six stainless steel sculptures. The pieces, collectively titled Gut Flora, are colorful 11-foot-tall structures inspired by bacteria, constructed of individually powder-coated steel sections. These sections are joined to make helical forms that extend from floor to ceiling, creating the illusion that they penetrate both surfaces. In a larger sense, Gut Flora brings to life the “circulatory system” of the City, it’s public transportation, by showcasing some of the “flora” that might be found in the circulatory and digestive systems of the human body. Soudant’s work will be fabricated locally with Rigidized Metals Corporation, where the artist will remain in-residence during the work’s creation.

Established in 2013, the Public Art Initiative is an innovative partnership between Erie County and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, with the City of Buffalo joining the partnership in 2014. The goal of the Initiative is to create spaces of dialogue where diverse communities have the ability to engage socially, actively respond, and cooperatively produce great public art that is capable of empowering individuals, creating stronger neighborhoods, and establishing Western New York as a critical cultural center.