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New downtown Buffalo mural is largest in WNY

Nick Lippa

The Albright-Knox’s Public Art Initiative will soon have another mural to add to its list of completed projects. This one, however, will be the largest mural in Western New York.

It’s also the largest artist Louise Jones has ever worked on. Her resume includes work from Los Angeles, her hometown Detroit, New York, and Shanghai. It’s not completed yet, but Jones is confident it will be completed by early next week.

“It’s not nearly almost complete yet for me to relax,” said Jones, “but I feel as if I’m on time. And I’m excited.”

Albright-Knox Curator of Public Art Aaron Ott said bringing an international talent like Jones to Buffalo has proven to be a success.

“Louise has painted all throughout the world. She’s painted in China, she’s going to New Zealand shortly,” Ott said. “It’s really a great opportunity for the artist to do the biggest work of her career and the biggest wall of our initiative so far.”

Credit Nick Lippa / WBFO News

Jones said the 80-foot-tall by 160-foot-wide mural on the side of the Sinclair building on 465 Washington Street features wildflowers that are specific to New York.

“It also features a few flowers that I encountered on my trip here. For instance, this strawflower is from one of the staff members' family farm. And pussy willow is also a very Buffalo centric plant. Specifically, I think it’s Polish,” Jones said.

While Jones had creative control over the final product, Ott said the concept for this project was born out of a walk with his son.

“We were actually exiting the Downtown Public Library,” Ott said. “There are gardens over there. I was sitting there with my son, looking through those gardens at this blank wall and wondered what it would like if that garden grew up onto the wall.”

Ott said murals are long-term, but ultimately temporary works.

Credit Nick Lippa / WBFO News
Albright-Knox Art Gallery Curator of Public Art Aaron Ott

“The fact that this was a previously painted wall means that the owners know how to maintain that. When we’re doing murals through the Public Art Initiative we work with our partners to determine the risk factors like water and whether it’s a south facing wall, which it is. So it gets more sunlight and the kind of materials to ensure longevity,” he said.

Other recent Albright-Knox Art Initiative projects include the White Bicycle’s mural We Are Here on Hertel Avenue and the Freedom Wall at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and East Ferry Street.

“I think this mural is an example of how the kind of economic activities we are seeing in the region are being matched by cultural expression and cultural activity. I think when we see a resurgent city through the lens of both economics and culture, we see something that is not just sustainable and stable, but growing,” Ott said.

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.
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