Life-sized portraits created by local artist showcase first six Erie County executives
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined today by former Erie County executives Ed Rutkowski, Dennis Gorski and Joel Giambra and relatives of former Erie County Executive B. John Tutuska for the public unveiling of six life-sized portraits painted by local artist Mary Smith that showcase the individuals who served as Erie County's first six county executives.
"It is an honor to pay homage and show respect to the first six people to serve in the capacity of Erie County executive," Poloncarz said. "As the current county executive, I encouraged The Buffalo History Museum to allow us to publicly display this artwork here in the Rath Building.
"I would like to thank the artist, Mary Smith, for her time and talents and showing great patience as it has been nearly a decade since she completed these beautiful portraits. I am pleased to be able to unveil them today with my predecessors in office in a nonpartisan manner that celebrates the history of the elected officials who have led Erie County over the last 50-plus years."
The portraits include Tutuska, Rutkowski, Gorski and Giambra, as well as former county executives Edward A. Rath Sr. and Edward V. Regan. They were commissioned by the Gorski administration and completed during the time Giambra served as county executive. They sat in storage at The Buffalo History Museum until being recently rediscovered and hung in the county's executive's chambers on the 16th floor of the Rath Building.
A resident of Lake View, Smith works out of three different studios. Primarily a sculptor and portrait painter, she has shown her work extensively in prestigious juried exhibitions. She has won medals and awards for sculpture and for painting. Smith has also had various distinguished public and private sculpture and painting commissions.
In addition to the full-sized portraits now on display on the 16th floor of the Rath Building, her work can be found on display at various locations throughout Western New York, including The Shaw Festival Theater, Forest Lawn Cemetery, Westminster Presbyterian Church, The Buffalo History Museum, SUNY Buffalo, Buffalo City Hall, SUNY at Buffalo, SUNY Buffalo State and The Buffalo Club.
"I am so happy to be able to see my work on display here at the Rath Building," Smith said. "I thank County Executive Poloncarz for seeing through on this and, of course, I also thank the previous county executives for allowing me to illustrate their leadership in portraits that I believe capture the essence of the public service they provided to the residents of Erie County during their time in office."