Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mural Painting Project Downtown Buffalo

As a new college graduate in 2006, aware of the brain drain that happens each year in May, I was anxious to contribute to the community of Buffalo, NY while I interviewed for a full time position.  Volunteering to gather and head a design team of local artist to create a mural painting in downtown Buffalo seemed like a perfect place to begin. After presenting a few of my design ideas to, the facility manager at the time, Mary Battey HSBC selected my Aquatic theme mural. Gathering my troupes was easy.  Sharing my enthusiasm and vision a team of artists offered to work on the project with me: Carol Ann Rice Rafferty, Crystal Kisloski, Greg Sobczak, Matt Cruz, and Josh Brown.  To complete the project it took us two months since we all worked full time during the week and were only available weekends.  We painted a mural on two sides of a covered outdoor walkway and painted collars and ties on bollards to resemble business men.

During my initial visit with Mary Battey discussing the conception of a mural to embellish the HSBC Building pedestrian walkway, I was inspired by the view of the waterfront from her office.  Since doing a little research I knew; "The City of Buffalo received its name from the creek that flows through it. One holds that the name is an anglicized form of the French name Beau Fleuve (beautiful river).",_New_York
The name of the mural is "Beau Buffalo." The concept of the mural obviously deals with water and aquatic life.  I selected this concept for multiple reasons.  The first being, Buffalo has the distinct advantage of being positioned on Lake Erie, one of the five Great Lakes.  With increasing talk of global warming, having fresh water makes Buffalo a prime real estate location.  Secondly, since my family moved here from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, ten years ago, the waterfront development has been a hot political topic. We have enjoyed the success of waterfront developments in many cities such as Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco.  We look forward to the city of Buffalo taking advantage of its natural resource soon.

A third reason is, we are aware of a successful daycare program available to employees at the HSBC Building.  We felt that the aquatic environment was something that would be enjoyable to both adults and children.  The enclosed environment of the glass covered pedestrian walkway has the sensibility of walking through a large aquarium.  Finally, the concept of water and fish in this mural denotes motion.  The cave serves as a transitional element from the cavernous parking facility to the work environment.  It is our hope that the fantasy created in our aquatic scene provides a sense of peace and tranquility, a way to cleanse the spirit from the workday stress, for people who enter this space.
The project taught me about being a leader, team work - how to encourage and direct your team, public art - making art accessible to the general public, presentation skills, and time management. Working on a real world project from initial ideas to the finished piece was very helpful as a designer.  It taught me to focus on the needs of the target audience and client.  The mural is still there today, 4 years later, and it makes all of the artists who volunteered their time happy to see it still looks great today.  The next time you attend an event downtown take a walk to the pedestrian pathway above Washington Street and between the parking garage and the HSBC Plaza to see our work.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

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