Sooo. Hertel Ave street art. I could just say it’s everywhere and leave it at that. Take a walk. But first prepare to have your mind blown.
Although there is one thing I’d like to talk about that I haven’t covered in the first two parts of this series on street art. It’s the process of creating what I call a design mural.
A design mural is first created by an artist on some sort of canvas, and is then blown up using technology and applied to the buildings in a series of panels. The 3M material they use looks just like paint, but it will supposedly last longer.
That’s a good thing, because in Part 2 of this series, we talked about how street art is temporarily permanent. So making the murals last longer is a good thing.
Check out this mural on Hertel, but inside the Dash’s Marketside Cafe. The artist is Casey William Milbrand and this one is a design mural. I think it’s fabulous!
Notice as well that the Albright Knox Public Art Initiative has sponsored some of these new ‘design’ murals. They are seeking to recognize the artistic nature of the talented designers in the Buffalo area. Some people are skeptical about whether these murals are actually art, but an awful lot of people believe that it is. It’s simply another form of art.
You decide. Beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder. I’ve noted which of these are design murals.
Mark Twain and John Lewis 2019 – AK Public Art Initiative
Artist: Eduardo Kobra
Located at 1188 Hertel Ave.
This mural is by one of São Paulo, Brazil’s most celebrated street artists. When Kobra does a mural, he looks into the history of the region and often uses historically significant figures in the mural he creates. Mark Twain lived in Buffalo from 1869 – 1871. A few years later, he met John Lewis when John saved Twain’s sister-in-law and niece from almost certain death, by heroically stopping a runaway horse that was headed for a cliff. The two formed a lifelong friendship. In the mural they appear infinitely comfortable with each other.
Goo Goo Dolls 2019
Artist: Philip Burke | Rory Allen – This mural is a design mural
Located at 1212 Hertel Ave.
This mural is a collaboration between Philip Burke and Zoom Copy’s Rory Allen. Burke is a world renowned artist who is also a Buffalonian. He’s done extensive work for The New Yorker, Time, Sports Illustrated and Vanity Fair, not to mention the Buffalo News and countless others. Together they chose to pay tribute to Buffalo music icons Robby Takac and Johnnie Rzeznik (of the Goo Goo Dolls). The original painting measures approximately 6 feet by 2 feet. The transfer to the wall was reportedly especially challenging due to the many interruptions in the wall. The Goo’s are Buffalo natives and are beloved by many here in the Queen City.
We Are Here 2018 – AK Public Art Initiative – This mural is a design mural
Artists|Designers: Brian Grunert | Kyle Morrisey | Casey Kelly | Holly Norris | Brittney Sikora | Meagan Walker – White Bicycle
Located at 1260 Hertel Ave.
I cannot say it better than the design firm who collaborated to create this mural. From the website of White Bicycle:
“We Are Here is a dynamic take on a map of North Buffalo, roughly bordered in this rendering by Taunton Place and Linden, Elmwood, and Parker Avenues. At a distance, the word “we” subtly emerges in shades of yellow and orange. This symbolic gesture suggests a vision of community based in equal parts shared and distinct identities, a space where we honor our common values even as we celebrate what makes us different. It is these connections that build the character, strength, and resiliency of our region. The composition also harkens to the designs of the Roycroft community based in East Aurora, southeast of the city, in the early twentieth century and the stained glass common to churches throughout Buffalo.”
Magic Buffalo 2017 – AK Public Art Initiative
Artist: Bunnie Reiss
Located at 1322 Hertel Ave.
The artist’s signature style is an eclectic mix of her Polish and Russian heritages. She uses Poland’s brightly colored folk art and the world of Russian fairytales, mixed with the vivid memories of colors of her youth growing up in Colorado. She expresses herself through her art, and would simply like to make people feel safe and be able to imagine a world that is innately good when they look at her paintings. I know Magic Buffalo gives me a light-hearted whimsical feeling.
Lookin’ Good 2018
Artist: Casey William Milbrand
Located at 1472 Hertel Ave.
Tough to top his Greetings from Buffalo (seen in Part 1) mural that ignited thousands of selfies and wedding proposals downtown on Ellicott Street, but Casey Milbrand achieves great heights with this mural on Hertel Ave as well. Casey is the quintessential Buffalo artist. He obviously loves this town, and it shows. Milbrand got the inspiration for this mural while working on Greetings. The story goes that while he was painting people would walk by and yell over to him “lookin’ good” in a typical friendly Buffalo fashion. The throwback, 70’s style font for the mural was inspired by the newly renovated North Park Theater on Hertel. North Buffalo IS lookin’ good.
Weego 2018 – AK Public Arts Initiative
Artist: Chuck Tingley | Matt Grote “Ogre”
Located at 1503 Hertel Ave.
This mural is a collaboration between much beloved Buffalo artist Chuck Tingley and Matt Grote who goes by the street name Ogre. It is based on the idea of a surreal balloon festival and features a Rubick’s cube as one of the balloons. Reportedly, these two artists work so well together, they barely have to talk to execute a design. Amazing. This mural, to me, fits the neighborhood so well. It’s so whimsical, family friendly, and fun. I can imagine kids from the neighborhood getting lost in this one, begging their parents over and over again to stop just to look at some detail they’ve not noticed before. Once again, Tingley and Grote have captivated us.
No Dress Rehearsal 2017
Artist | Designer: Rory Allen | Zoom Copy | This mural is a design mural
Located at 1673 Hertel Ave.
This mural is a tribute to Canadian rocker Gord Downey of the Tragically Hip. ‘No dress rehearsal, this is our life’ is a quote from their song, Ahead by a Century. The Hip is not a Buffalo band, but they do have a huge fan base here. Artist Rory Allen of Zoom Copy wanted to create this tribute because of Buffalo’s obvious affection for him, because of his unfortunate medical diagnosis (which resulted in his eventual death), and for the amazing artist that Gord was. The mural was completed approximately three weeks before Downey’s death from brain cancer in October 2017. If you are not familiar with the music of the Tragically Hip, looking it up would be a very Buffalo thing to do.
Buffalo Map 2017
Artist | Designer: Mario Zucca | Rory Allen-Zoom Copy | This mural is a design mural
Located at 1673 Hertel Ave.
This mural is a collaboration between Mario Zucca and Rory Allen. It’s a design mural that originated with Allen asking the owner of the building, Ikram Massabini (MVP Network Consulting), if he would be interested in a mural. Massabini agreed and Allen searched the internet for a design. He found Zucca’s painting of Buffalo that was being sold as prints online. Zucca chooses cities with a lot of hometown pride (hello Buffalo) and then asks friends and others for iconic places to include in the paintings. It’s quite detailed if you look closely. Love it.
I would be remiss if I did not include at least a few photos of Hertel Alley which runs behind the buildings on the south side of the street between Colvin and Traymore. There’s some great stuff on these walls. Some done by well known artists that have been featured in this series. Some by artists who have become better known since their work here. Take a walk back there if you have the chance. Here’s a few of my favorites.
Street art really does something for the mood of a neighborhood. It’s a win win in my mind. The artists get work; the building owner gets increased property value; the businesses in the vicinity get increased foot traffic, and last, but certainly not least, the people of the neighborhood get to see art the quality of which they would normally have to pay to see. All while running errands, going out to eat, to grocery shop, etc., lifting your mood as you go.
I cannot for the life of me think of anything bad about street art. There is no down side. It’s all good. And it’s all over Buffalo.
For those of you who don’t live in Buffalo: Allentown, the Elmwood Village and the West Side are all neighborhoods within the city of Buffalo. As I sit down to write this, it occurs to me that I should have begun this series in Allentown. Because the street art movement in Buffalo really began there.
In Part 1 of this series, I mentioned a time when street artists used to (some still do) go out in the dark of night and create. Illegally. They were constantly looking over their shoulders to make sure they were not getting caught. Some were arrested. Some went to jail.
In 2013, the Allen Street Street Artists Collective was organized by Buffalo historian, businessman and arts supporter, Mark Goldman in conjunction with the Allentown Association. The goal of the collective was to legitimize the artwork done by street artists, to enhance the neighborhood through art and to provide legal work for the artists.
Mark Goldman dedicated his work on Allen Street to his late brother, Tony Goldman, who was a well known street artist in New York City and Miami.
Since 2013, the art on the buildings in Allentown has changed some, a few of the original paintings are still there and are noted as such below. Street art, or public murals, was once described to me as temporarily permanent work. Must be strange for an artist to know that their work will one day deteriorate and eventually be removed and/or replaced.
I for one am glad that they continue on with their work, to our benefit.
(Part of) Tribute to Tony Goldman 2013
Located at 245 Allen Street – College Street Side (Rear)
“The work we do is not for the faint of heart.” This is a quote from Tony Goldman, street artist. This is the tribute wall that was created in 2013, in honor of Mark Goldman’s deceased brother Tony Goldman, who was himself a street artist, and created large street art displays in both New York City and Miami, by purchasing large scale buildings and hiring talented street artists from all over the world. Tony Goldman was the inspiration for the Allen Street Street Artists Collective. While writing this post, I was walking on College Street in Allentown, and saw that this work, and the following two, were being painted over, and some construction was taking place inside the building. See photos at the end of this post* Temporarily permanent.
Iron Fireman 2013
Artist: Rust Belt Division
Located at 245 Allen Street – Rear of Building (Lower) – photo below
This work is based on the Iron Firemen (huge boiler systems) found in old industrial buildings of the Rust Belt.
The artist of this work is described by other Collective artists as reclusive and chooses not to talk about his/her art publicly. He/she also changes his street name from time to time so as to keep his/her identity unknown. Makes me wonder if it is perhaps a public figure who created this mural. This is the second of three that has been painted over this week. See photos at the end of this post* Temporarily permanent.
Artist: David Chino
Located at 245 Allen Street – Rear of Building (Upper) – photo below
Chino grew up in Brooklyn, NY surrounded by graffiti. He mainly painted his name on the subway walls while he lived there. He moved to Buffalo in the early 90’s and would only paint occasionally here because he felt that Buffalo was very clean and it didn’t feel right painting here. He impressed the other artists in the Collective though, and was asked to participate in the project. This is the third and final mural that has been painted over this week. See photos at the end of this post* Temporarily permanent.
Photo of Iron Fireman (lower) and Chino (upper)
Secondary Occupants 2013
Artist: Julian Montague
Located at 245 Allen Street – College Street Side (Front)
Julian Montague was part of the Allen Street Street Artists Collective. Earlier he had a project where he created “fake” books by creating new covers for existing books and giving them new names. One of these “books” he titled “Secondary Occupants”. He used the cover of this book to create a mural. He describes it as cutting the building in half using these creatures with eyes that appear to be watching us as we go about our business in Allentown.
Title Unknown 2017
Artist: Nicolas Delfino
Located at 245 Allen Street – College Street Side (Lower Front)
I don’t know too much about this series of paintings contained within the lower half of “Secondary Occupants”. Done by Nicolas Delfino, they do fit in nicely with the whole Allentown neighborhood, and is perhaps a collection representing the spirit of Allentown. My opinion.
Tribute to Spain Rodriguez 2013
Artist: Ian DeBeer
Located at 233 Allen Street
What sets this mural apart from every other mural in Buffalo is that the artist never actually painted the mural. Ian DeBeer was incarcerated for graffiti art vandalism crimes in New York City, and as a stipulation of his parole he could not use or possess any street art tools. He created this mural with charcoal on tracing paper, then worked with projection artist Keith Harrington to have the mural projected onto the side of the building. The mural was then painted by artists of the Allen Street Street Artists Collective under DeBeer’s direction.
Spain Rodriguez was a comic artist from Buffalo who also dabbled in street art. DeBeer became familiar with his work while in jail. He created this mural as a tribute to Rodriguez’s cartoon that memorialized a fight he had gotten into in a bar on Allen Street called (at the time) The Jamestown, now Nietzche’s.
It’s the back story that makes this mural for me. So interesting.
Artist: Chuck Tingley
Located at 224 Allen Street
Chuck Tingley painted this in 2014, and has now become one of Buffalo’s most prolific and popular artists. This mural was inspired by the ability to persevere and overcome adversity in the form of gender and race bias. The boater is making his/her way through the darkness, being led by the light from the lighthouse. The way the lighthouse is located in the boater’s head leads you to believe that he/she is really following their own inner light. It’s beautiful, no?
Homeland – Perhaps It Is Because I Wish To See You Fly 2017– AK Public Art Initiative
Artist: Betsy Casanas
Located at 583 Niagara Street
Casanas was invited by the Albright Knox as part of their Public Art Initiative to create a mural celebrating the contributions of the Hispanic and Latino communities to the economic and cultural growth of the entire West Side neighborhood. She worked with community members to design the mural itself, and with volunteers to actually paint the mural, making it a true community effort, headed by Casanas.
Covering two sides of the building, and depicting both immigrant and indiginous people, this mural is a true celebration of the community it brightens.
Artist: Prish Moran
Location: 220 Grant Street
Prish Moran purchased the building at 220 Grant Street in 2007. When I met with her in 2017, Prish told me she painted the lower half of the building brown because it was covered with graffiti. Not the good kind. She decided to paint something else to make it look a bit nicer. She went through the folders of pictures she tears out of magazines to save for inspiration, and found a photo she liked. So she painted her own version of it on her building. She makes it sound so easy!
One day, she was working in the (at the time) unopened cafe when there came a knock on the door. She answered it to a gentleman from the refugee resettlement center who was with several women refugees. He explained that he was taking the ladies on a tour of the neighborhood to show them around and when they came upon Prish’s building the women cried tears of joy having seen the mural which was, unbeknownst to Prish prior to this, the Burmese God of Happiness. The women were from Burma, and stated that they now felt at home in Buffalo having been welcomed by the God of Happiness himself. Prish says that the Burmese women from the neighborhood have been touching the mural when they walk by ever since. Great story, and a beautiful mural. Thanks for sharing both Prish.
Welcome to the Iconic Elmwood Village 2018
Artist: Michael Gelen
Illustrator: Bill Jankowski, Zoom Copy
Installer: Andrew House
Located at 1055 Elmwood Avenue
This is a fun mural that was made possible by Marc Corsi, owner of the Poster Art Store housed in the building. He wanted to use childhood images to showcase a diverse group of icons and legends. Included in the background of each icon are clues to their identity, leaving the beholder with the task of identification.
Not gonna spoil the fun and tell you who they are. You’ll have to figure it out yourself. Hint: They aren’t necessarily Buffalonians…
Artists: Augustina Droze | Bruce Adams
Located at 938 Elmwood Avenue
This mural is a happy-go-lucky look at Elmwood Village life, from the Bidwell Farmers Market, to Jim’s Steak-Out, to the cyclist to the skateboarder. Life is good in the Elmwood Village, a neighborhood that was named one of the country’s 10 best neighborhoods by the American Planning Association. Indeed, it is home to some of the city’s best shops, restaurants and art galleries, not to mention the beautiful homes! I took this picture in 2017, but now this painting needs work, or…temporarily permanent?
Nicola Tesla 2018
Artist: Rory Allen
Located at 727 Elmwood Avenue
This mural is a nod to Nicola Tesla who is credited with bringing electricity to Buffalo. Commissioned by 40 Thieves Restaurant, Rory Allen is the artist with Zoom Copy.
Lip Service 2018
Artist: David Mitchell
Located at 712 Elmwood Avenue
This mural was a collaboration between Bureau (owners Jon Eisenberg and Joseph Stocker) and Klub Weimar. They wanted to give back to the community. It was meant to be both provocative and family friendly at the same time. Sort of like the neighborhood itself. Pretty sure the Rolling Stones would approve.
Yellow Dog 2019
Artist: eRic Luplow
735 Elmwood Avenue
Luplow grew up in Batavia, and after a chance meeting with Bureau owners Jon Eisenberg and Joseph Stocker in Arizona, came to give Buffalo this fun, quirky mural on Elmwood. Having visited the Albright Knox regularly as a kid, Luplow always dreamed of having one of his paintings on display in the Albright Knox. He reportedly figures having this mural on Elmwood for all to see is the next best thing.
Eyes (?) 2019
Artist: Chuck Tingley
257 ½ Summer Street – Facing Elmwood Avenue
This mural was done as part of the Flutterby Festival held here this past August. The festival is intended to raise awareness of environmental concerns. According to Tingley, he depicted the eyes closed because they can represent anyone, of any ethnicity. He also wanted to bring attention to the fact that so many of us are closing our eyes to the worlds environmental issues. This one gets me.
Some more shots from my travels around the city. Buffalo is literally becoming covered with art!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip through the Allentown, the West Side and Elmwood Village murals! In case you missed it, check outPart 1 of the Buffalo Street Artseries. Next up – Hertel Ave. See you then!
*I happened to be in Allentown today (October 29, 2019) and I am sad to say that the last of A Tribute to Tony Goldman, Iron Fireman and Chino had deteriorated quite a bit in the past couple of years, as you can see from the photos above. All have now been painted over. As I’ve said before in these posts, street art is only temporarily permanent. Although we’re sad to see a mural go, it’s the nature of the beast, and these were deteriorating badly. I’ll be watching to see what happens next, and will let you know if I see anything interesting! Photos below.
Buffalo is becoming quite the street art city. Not that we haven’t always had an active art scene here, it’s just that now you can’t help but notice.
Our art scene began with The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy. It was founded in December of 1862, with President Millard Fillmore, who was a Buffalonian, as one of its incorporators. The Academy used several different locations temporarily, until John Albright donated the money for a permanent structure to be built. It was placed at the edge of Delaware Park overlooking what is now Hoyt Lake. It was opened in 1905, having been renamed the Albright Art Gallery.
An addition was added to the gallery in the 1960’s, funded largely by a donation from Seymour Knox Jr., and the museum was again given a new name, the Albright Knox Art Gallery.
The Gallery is home to a vast collection of modern art and is considered to be world class. It is again undergoing a major expansion as I write this. Read more about this expansion here.
Albright Knox Art Gallery
The Albright Knox is certainly not the only game in town when it comes to art. We’ve got the Birchfield Penney Art Center just across Elmwood Avenue from the Albright Knox, in addition to many, many independent galleries across the city and region.
So Buffalo already had a vibrant art scene in 2013, when the Albright Knox went into a partnership with Erie County to bring art into public spaces for the enjoyment of all. They called it called the Albright Knox Public Art Initiative. The city joined in on the action in 2014.
Boy do I wish this had been my idea! The Public Arts Initiative has, as they say, created a monster. A wonderful, endlessly creative monster. There is so much public art in Buffalo now, and so much being created practically daily, that it’s getting a bit difficult to keep up!
I’d like to share with you some of the must see murals in downtown Buffalo, and just a bit north of the downtown core, on or near Main Street. Art that is part of the Albright Knox’s Public Art Initiative is noted. The rest are funded either privately, or through donations. Note that I will be covering only murals in this series.
Artists: Augustina Droze | Bruce Adams
Located at 95 Perry Street
This collaboration won a contest put on by Savarino Properties. The design highlights the historic Cobblestone District and Buffalo’s past by incorporating machinery, grain elevators and ship’s masts. It also breeds hope for the home team of Buffalo with the woman’s face at the top yelling out Go!
Colored Musicians Club 2005
Artist: William Y. Cooper
Located at 145 Broadway
Painted by well-known Buffalo artist William Y. Cooper, these vibrant paintings fairly jump off the building, letting people who enter know just what they are in for inside this historic building. What are they in for? History. Live music. Jazz. Black, white, purple or polka dotted, if you are into jazz, this is the place for you.
Wildflowers for Buffalo 2018 – AK Public Art Initiative
Artist: Louise ‘Ouizi’ Jones
Located at 465 Washington Street
Louise Jones is a Detroit based artist with works in Detroit, LA, New York City, Shanghai and other international cities. All the flowers in this mural are native to the Buffalo area and were chosen specifically for that reason. Jones hopes that she has provided a beautiful backdrop for Buffalonians going about the business of their day, working and living in Western New York.
Freestyle Faces of Main Street | Diver & Sea Creatures 2012
Artists: Matthew ‘Ogre’ Grote | Chuck Tingley | Max Collins
Located at 515 Main Street
This mural has been around since before the AK Public Arts Initiative. All three artists have become well known in Buffalo since. These are artists who have both sanctioned and unsanctioned work in Buffalo, harkening back to the days when artists went out under cover of night, always looking over their shoulders for fear of getting caught. And by the way, the property adjacent to this mural is screaming for a Main Street pocket park. Can’t somebody make this happen?
Greetings from Buffalo 2016
Artist: Casey William Milbrand
Located at 461 Ellicott Street
This mural was funded through crowd-sourced donations and has become a mecca for Instagram selfie seekers, wedding photographers and all around general Buffalove. Casey created a custom font and drew inspiration from Buffalo City Hall’s stained glass ceiling for this mural. Milbrand’s genuine love of Buffalo shines through in this mural.
Optichromie–Buffalo 2019 – AK Public Art Initiative
Artist: Felipe Pantone
Located at Town Ballroom, 681 Main Street (Washington Street Side)
This is one of Pantone’s series of Optichromie Op Art paintings he has been working on all over the world, Buffalo being one recent installment. Albright Knox was interested in having Felipe come to Buffalo to parallel this amazing Op Art design with the extensive collection of Op Art owned and displayed by the AK. The design itself appears to resonate off the wall of the Town Ballroom, much like the live music featured inside this legendary concert venue.
Walking Back in Time 2019 – AK Public Art Initiative
Artist: Logan Hicks
Located at 5 East Huron Street
I thought briefly of not including the pick-up photo. But then I thought that this is how we normally see the mural, with traffic, people walking and cars parked in front of it. Still beautiful.
Based on a photograph taken by Hicks looking down Court Street towards Niagara Square and City Hall. He made a series of stencils to create this mural and the faces of the people are his own friends and family members.
Dream Keepers 2016 – AK Public Art Initiative
Artist: Alice Mizrachi
Located at 1221 Main Street
Mizrachi worked with Mayor Byron Brown’s summer youth program to develop the design for this mural at the Buffalo Center for the Arts and Technology. The students then completed the mural, under Mizrachi’s direction. If you look close, each student’s name is painted somewhere in the mural. Cool!
The Freedom Wall 2017 – AK Public Art Initiative
Artists: John Baker | Julia Bottoms | Chuck Tingley | Edreys Wajed
Located at the Corner of Michigan Avenue & East Ferry Streets
This important work stands at the northern entrance to the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor. It highlights a mere 28 important African American leaders, both local and national. This is perhaps the most moving of all the murals in Buffalo.
Metamorphosis #5 2019 – AK Public Art Initiative
Artist: Tavar Zawacki
Located at 1665 Main Street
To date, this is the largest mural Zawacki has created, and it is also the largest mural to date, in all of Western New York. It features the artist’s signature upward facing arrow and incredibly vibrant colors.
72 Jewett 2016 – AK Public Art Initiative
Artist: Daniel Galas
Located at 74 Jewett Avenue (72 Jewett is the former address of the building.)
Daniel Galas is a Buffalo based artist whose work is primarily based on architecture in and around Western New York. He uses his own whimsical style when featuring iconic buildings. The buildings featured in this mural are all within walking distance of the building they’re painted on. They are: the Darwin Martin House, the Elephant House at the Buffalo Zoo, Highland Lodge / Central Presbyterian Church Community Center, the Kensington Water Tower, St. Mark’s Church, Blessed Trinity Church, the Second Pierce-Arrow Showroom and Bennett High School & All-High Stadium.
And now for a little bit of random fun, found all over the city:
I hope you’ve enjoyed the first installment in my series about Buffalo Street Art! Check out Part 2 in the series for more incredible murals in Allentown, the West Side and the Elmwood Village! Comment below and tell us your favorite street art, whether in Buffalo or anywhere else. Include photos!