Local artist's work is meant to complement the experience of visiting Niagara Falls
USA Niagara Development Corp. HAS revealed a new sculpture based on the flowing waters of Niagara Falls by local artist Jesse Walp in downtown Niagara Falls. The towering sculpture is located on Old Falls Street where millions of tourists visit each year.
"Placemaking is a key piece of our regional strategy, and public art as part of a broader streetscape plays an important role in public space," Empire State Development Senior Vice President and USAN President Christopher J. Schoepflin SAID. "How places present themselves to its residents and visitors matters. Placemaking conveys a sense of history, a sense of pride, and a sense that cities matter and should be experienced in many different ways. Thanks to Jesse for his wonderful art and effort and to the AKAG for their ongoing partnership."
"One doesn't just go to Niagara Falls to see it, but more so to experience it," Walp said. "The river flows with such vigor as it bravely rushes over the falls in one of the most epic displays of awesome power. The water crashes down on to the rocks below, erupting into a splattering of droplets and spraying of mist. This experience became the inspiration for my arch on Old Falls Street. It encircles one within it much like that of the churning water as it splatters and sprays overhead. This is what I encourage people to look for when they go into the sculpture, walk through it, become part of it, and experience it."
The sculpture by Walp, a resident of Buffalo and associate professor at Villa Maria College, is 14 feet wide and 26 feet tall and meant to mimic the intense splashing of water at the base of the falls, with bright blue spheres representing the water droplets that splatter over the surrounding landscape. The blue of the rubber resin orbs was inspired by the way the sunlight hits the Maid of the Mist ponchos.
The piece is funded with $60,000 from USA Niagara Development Corp., a subsidiary of ESD. It was selected with the help of Albright-Knox Art Gallery Public Art Curator Aaron Ott.
This is Walp's first major public art commission, although he has had exhibitions and commissions at the Burchfield Penney Art Center and Buffalo Arts Studio in Buffalo, Strohl Art Center in Chautauqua, The Kenan Center in Lockport and the Melvin Johnson Sculpture Garden at the Chautauqua Institute. He has also exhibited in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Florida.
The sculpture complements Jeff Laramore's "Untroubled Waters" aluminum and steel sculpture on Centennial Circle that was installed last year, funded in part by USAN. That piece is meant to mark the 100th anniversary of the Boundary Waters Treaty between America and Canada in 2009.
City of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said, "Looking at the downtown revitalization efforts of other municipalities, we know that public artwork plays a critical role in enhancing the visitor experience. We believe that, by adding this latest installation, funded through our partners at Empire State Development, will add to the experience for the millions who visit our great city every year."
New York State Sen. Robert Ortt said, "Each year, millions of travelers from around the world come to experience the natural beauty of Niagara Falls. The sheer number of visitors who pass through our streets gives local artists and creators the unique opportunity to display their crafts to eyes from across the globe and help spread stories of our community. This piece of work will do the same as the artwork that came before it, and will further convey the unique atmosphere that surrounds one of the seven natural wonders of the world."
Assemblyman Angelo Morinello said, "I am very pleased that Empire State Development recognizes the need to assist in promoting Niagara Falls, New York, in a positive light. There is much more to do, but I am happy ESD's focus continues to bring Niagara Falls forward."
USAN is solely dedicated to the support and promotion of economic development initiatives in Niagara Falls by leveraging private investment and encouraging growth and renewal of the tourism industry in the city. For more information, visit www.usaniagara.com