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Mark Twain mural unveiled on Hertel Avenue

Thomas O'Neil-White

Mark Twain’s history in the City of Buffalo is well-documented. From 1869 to 1871, he was an editor at the Buffalo Express newspaper and lived on Delaware Avenue. The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library has a room of his manuscripts and letters.

With Twain being a part of Buffalo’s history, public art advocates thought it would be fitting he be celebrated with a mural in the city.

On Friday morning, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s Public Art initiative presented renowned Brazilian muralist Eduardo Kobra's rendering of Twain and longtime friend John Lewis along Hertel Avenue.

Albright-Knox Public Art Curator Aaron Ott said Kobra latched onto the story of how Twain and Lewis met.

“Twain made the acquaintance of John T. Lewis in the event of Lewis’ heroic actions,” he said. “Stopping a runaway horse and buggy carrying Twain’s sister-in-law and her daughter from near-certain death.”

Credit Thomas O'Neil-White
Eduardo Kobra's tag on his mural.

Historians have speculated Lewis was the inspiration for “Jim” in Twain’s classic novel Huckleberry Finn. Lewis and Twain are buried next to each other in Elmira, New York.

Ott said the confluence of the public and private sector gets a project of this magnitude on its feet.

“We are funded by the county and the city for our operations,” he said. “And we always rely on partnerships, our partners, our sponsors, to help produce these works of art.”

Twain joins late Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie and The Goo Goo Dolls among the many murals that have popped up along Hertel Avenue in recent years.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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