716 Transformers: The Curator

By Nancy J. Parisi

Published on | Last Updated

Aaron Ott has one of the coolest – and most enviable – titles in the city; he’s the Buffalo AKG Art Museum’s Curator of Public Art, a position he’s had since 2013. Since then, Ott has had a hand in the creation of murals and public art throughout the region. “Our director had done a public art initiative as director of Finland’s Helsinki Art Museum and I followed his lead, not knowing it would be as popular as it would become,” Ott says. “I came right at the time of resurgence, with a lot of economic development going on and a desire to sustain and encourage and maintain cultural development. Dovetail that with a lot of energy that the city has produced since that time – we’ve worked with great partners, and our initiative thrives on partnerships, and we have dialogue about what will work within our shared spaces in a way that responds to the diversity that we see in our city and region. We are lucky to be here at this time and to be around a lot of people who want to see this work. It’s lovely to talk to people about how they want to change their spaces and improve their own landscapes. Cultural activity makes for a very healthy civic environment. It is dialogic, it fosters a lot of conversation between people who might not be in dialogue and a sense of ownership and excitement within the community. With public art you might end up in spaces and places that you would have never thought of on your own: that’s the DNA of our initiative.”

716 Tips

“Go eat at The Dapper Goose. I’ve always had phenomenal meals and drinks there, it’s one of my favorite places to be in the city. I’ll always order some version of a mixed whisky drink and they always deliver on that. I also recommend ordering a number of their small dishes, some of them are so deceptively simple, like the blackened green beans. They will come to the table and be just the most sublime treatment of green beans. Same for the Brussels sprouts – they were so good it was insane.”

Nancy J. Parisi headshot

Nancy J. Parisi

Nancy is a social documentation photographer based in Buffalo, NY.