Part of ‘Niagara County By The Numbers: An interactive mural trail’
Lockport artist Mike Weber of Niagara County Entertainment is partnering with Natalie Brown, program coordinator of the Carnegie Art Center, to create an interactive mural trail in Niagara County. This project will be a series of 12 new murals installed across the county (one per municipality) and painted by 12 different artists.
Each “Niagara County By The Numbers: An interactive mural trail” piece will be a 5-foot-by-7-foot color-by-number image featuring iconic imagery of each location. The public will be invited to visit each mural and color in the images with chalk. Organizers said the interactive mural project will encourage creativity, tourism and highlight the history of Niagara County.
Murals will be created and installed in the following towns: Cambria, Hartland, Lewiston, Lockport, Newfane, Niagara, Pendleton, Porter (Village of Youngstown), Royalton (Gasport), Somerset, Wheatfield (City of North Tonawanda) and Wilson (Village of Wilson).
The artwork on each mural will represent its location respectively, with the name of the town, city or village, as well as “historical and iconic images highlighting the best reasons to visit that community.”
Weber has been pursuing a location for the murals in each area by attending municipal meetings to talk to the boards, mayors and supervisors about finding places for these works of art. He has also reached out to private businesses, art galleries and nonprofits to find suitable locations for the artwork.
He and Brown confirmed a majority of the locations and participating artists, and expect to start the installation and painting process in May.
Weber said the murals will not only invigorate community pride, but they’ll also create a fun activity for locals and tourists alike.
“I conceived of the idea, and what I wanted to do was unite the county with a trail,” he stated. “Making the murals ‘color-by-number’ adds an interactive component and allows the community to be involved.”
Each mural will be accompanied by a plaque containing more information about the project, including a brief history of the town and GPS coordinates of each mural location so visitors can easily find each mural in the various towns and color them in with chalk. The plaques will also provide a key to assist children and adults as they “color-by-number” with chalk.
The murals in each town will be designed by Matt Duquette of 12 Grain Studio in Lockport, which specializes in graphic design and illustration. Duquette will include historical and iconic imagery in each mural to represent each area.
The murals will be painted by 12 different artists. The public can learn more about each artist on the interactive mural’s Facebook page.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a decrease in in-person events and opportunities to experience art in the area. A press release stated, “This new public art initiative will allow the community to not only view but also participate in the arts in a safe environment.”
This interactive mural initiative will be free and accessible for anyone who would like to partake. Weber and Brown expect a few hundred visitors for each mural over the course of a year, resulting in approximately 5,000 people “having a positive experience.”
Weber said the murals will feature different aspects of each community that residents can be proud of and visitors can learn more about. For example, a fire hydrant will be on the Lockport mural, because fire hydrants were invented in Lockport.
“We are thrilled to be a partnering organization of the project and a location site of one of the murals,” Brown said. “This type of interactive art project is a perfect way to unite the county, showcase the amazing artists who live here and make the arts accessible for all.”
This project is partly funded by the New York State Decentralization Grant facilitated by Arts Services Inc. and the Grigg Lewis Foundation. Currently, Weber and Brown are looking for additional donations and sponsorships to support the project. Funds will directly support the purchase of supplies and pay artists for their time.
Questions from the public about this project can be emailed to [email protected]. Email [email protected] or call 716-523-0068 for donation and sponsorship information. “Like” “Niagara County By The Numbers: An interactive mural trail” on Facebook for updates: https://www.facebook.com/interactivemural.