Buffalo’s Public Art is Lookin’ Good
Before the paint has dried on one new mural, scaffolding is being assembled, paint is being mixed and another is underway these days in Buffalo. That’s only a slight exaggeration in the summer of 2019, as businesses, community groups, block clubs and artists join the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in creating new murals and sculptural installations all over the city.
The latest example of how Buffalo’s artists are taking to the streets is Hertel Alley in North Buffalo. This three-block alley runs parallel to Hertel Avenue from Colvin Avenue to Traymore Street. Twenty artists working in a variety of styles are represented, making this the most intense concentration of new murals in the city. This quiet strip of asphalt – only one block from Hertel — doesn’t see much traffic so it’s a great spot to wander, take pictures and enjoy the work of so many talented artists.
Just across the street, you’ll find a massive new mural that’s a tribute to the talents of two of Buffalo’s most prolific and successful creative forces. Buffalo artist Philip Burke – acclaimed for his many covers of rock musicians and other cultural figures for Rolling Stone magazine – has created a 24-by-48-foot portrait of the Goo Goo Dolls, the Buffalo-born band founded by Robby Takac and Johnnie Rzeznick in the mid-80s, that went on to achieve global fame. Located at 1212 Hertel Avenue, the mural is a kinetic blast of rock ‘n’ roll energy.
A few blocks away, you won’t want to miss artist Casey Milbrand’s “Lookin’ Good” mural at 1472 Hertel. It’s hard not to interpret Milbrand’s latest contribution to Buffalo’s visual renaissance as color commentary on the state of the new Buffalo and one of its most vibrant streets. Buffalo is indeed lookin’ good and Milbrand — the artist behind the “Greetings from Buffalo” mural at Ellicott and St. Michael’s Place downtown – is helping to shape the city’s new look. (Massive drawings of some of the city’s more famous buildings by Milbrand can be found in the entryway to the new Dash’s supermarket at Hertel and Starin Avenues.)
A mural that’s getting plenty of first and second looks this summer is artist Felipe Pantone’s dynamic mash-up of geometric shapes, optical patterns and jagged lines on the rear wall of the Town Ballroom facing Washington Street, between Tupper and Chippewa Streets downtown. In a city brimming with new imagery, this is one of the most dazzling displays of color and line we’ve yet to see. It’s a fitting entryway for the musicians who perform on the Town stage.
Further down Washington Street at the corner of Broadway, you’ll find “Wildflowers for Buffalo,” artist Louise Jones’ whimsical tribute to the flora found in and around Buffalo. Taking up the entire south side of the six-story Sinclair Building, the mural is a riot of massive blooms that celebrates summer. It’s best viewed from one block away on the elevated plaza of the Central Library, which also happens to be one of downtown Buffalo’s finest public gardens.
Finally, don’t miss your chance to see artist Robert Indiana’s “Numbers One Through Zero” sculptures at Wilkeson Pointe on the city’s Outer Harbor. The eight-feet-tall steel numbers are striking red-brown objects that stand out in the lush green surroundings of Wilkeson Pointe. The work of a great American artist and genuinely visionary talent, Buffalo has the great good fortune of having this installation on our waterfront for a second year. But don’t wait too long to check them out. The countdown has begun and the numbers will be gone by October.