The presence of public art in Buffalo has increased across many of our city’s buildings over the past five years. Albright Knox is now a major contributor with their public art initiative aimed at “enhancing our shared sense of place and cultural identity in the urban and suburban landscapes of Western New York.”
Many of the murals use collage style, layering people, places and things representative of the Buffalo community, laced with underlying themes of pride, diversity and revival.
The Feast, 2014
Bruce Adams and Augustina Droze, Elmwood Avenue at Bidwell Parkway
“The Feast” can be found in Elmwood Village, the heart of Buffalo known for its art, food and drink, boutiques and charming homes. Iconography in this mural includes green apples and ripe red tomatoes representative of the Bidwell-Elmwood Farmers market; the two street signs make an appearance as well. The Elmwood and Bidwell area comes alive when used for live music, public events, acro-yoga and dog walking.
Other major icons include late-night Buffalo food items and the bicyclist, indicating our city’s interest in adding in bike lanes, a bike share program and bike racks all across the city. During the long winter in Buffalo, this mural brightens up the street even on the dreariest of days and embodies the shared idea of what Elmwood Village aims to be, lively, fun, local and diverse.
Grant Street Global Voices, 2013
Augustina Droze and Buffalo Public School students, Grant Street at Auburn Avenue
Augustina Droze, who collaborated on “The Feast” mural as well, stated, “I wanted to make a joyful, celebratory piece honoring the different communities that live here.” Her second mural, Street Global Voices, is located on the Buffalo’s Westside, which is known for its melting pot of residents. The area is thriving with coffee shops, cafes, urban gardens and restaurants opening on every corner. Many young families, students, entrepreneurs and refugees call it home as well.
Laurie Kaiser explained, “flowers flow from trumpets played by a Puerto Rican man and young boy. An African-American woman smiles beatifically next to an Italian businessman, a world-weary Burmese dancer, and sweet-faced Middle Eastern girl. Above them are historic black and white photographs of three white immigrants taking citizenship oaths.” It’s representative of the welcoming attitude of Buffalo and the pride our area takes in each of our unique heritages.
The collage style is indicative of the layers within our communities, generations of families, flowers indicating growth, and friendly faces. Light shines upon each of their faces, pattern spills across the background hinting at the myriad of ethnicity present in Buffalo.
72 Jewett, 2016
Daniel Galas, Koch Metal Spinning at Jewett Avenue
“Buildings represented in this mural include the Elephant House at the Buffalo Zoo, Highland Lodge, Central Presbyterian Church Community Center, St. Mark’s Roman Catholic Church, the Kensington Water Tower, Blessed Trinity Roman Catholic Church, the Pierce-Arrow Showroom, Bennett High School and All-High Stadium, and the Darwin D. Martin House.”
In this mural, Daniel Galas chose to paint the buildings he passed on his daily commute, an urban landscape of sorts. His use of shape in this mural is playful, taking advantage of the natural framing provided by the rectangular contours of the building’s exterior. This mural has a unique whimsical style, yellow and black geometric forms defined by black lines and contrasted by black backgrounds which allows the brightness of the yellow to pop. Pattern is prominent in each architectural drawing of brick and windows.
His interpretation of the city-scape is uplifting and fanciful, a perfect accompaniment to our city’s resurgence.
Spectral Locus, Fabric, 2016
Amanda Browder, Richmond Ferry Church
Spectral Locus brought new attention to Elmwood Village’s Richmond Ferry Church this summer. Buffalo region residents (city and suburbs alike) were involved in sewing together large pieces of fabric that would eventually be assembled to fit over a total of three buildings in the area.
Amanda Browder created public arts and craft sessions where the audience was able to take part in the process. This allowed different communities to come together, invest their time and efforts and watch their individual contributions become a part of a much bigger picture.
Conceptually, Spectral Locus shares similar ideas as the murals above. Browder wanted to reinvigorate buildings that were so integrated into daily life, that people were passing them without appreciation. Richmond Ferry Church, which is now used as a collaborative art center, was the center of attention for a month.
This project inspired people to visit the city, excited to walk and drive by, learn about the space, etc. The collage effect is present here as well, with different shades and shapes of fabric combining to make long strips of pink, yellow, and blue, illuminating our cities architecture and history, and even bringing attention to our progressive ideas.