By Joshua Maloni
After two months of vigorous fundraising, Artpark & Company has met its $20,000 Kickstarter campaign goal. Starting May 1, staff at the Village of Lewiston performing and visual arts venue will reproduce "Niagara 1979" -- late artist Gene Davis' "Painted Parking Lot."
The artwork will be installed in parking lot C, which is adjacent to the Mainstage Theater, between the old trailer and the main Outdoor Amphitheater entrance.
"It's incredibly exciting," Artpark & Company Director of Visual Arts & Family Programs Tanis Winslow said Monday. "I'm extremely thrilled that the community was able to come together and crowdfund this project."
In 1979, Davis, his assistant, and a team of eight interns hand-rolled 60 lines, each one measuring 2 feet wide and 364 feet long. They used seven miles of masking tape to set borders, and each line was painted one of nine different colors.
When "Niagara 1979" was complete, it set a Guinness Book of World Records mark for largest painting in the world.
In 2017, Winslow and her team will set out to faithfully recreate "The Painted Parking Lot" in about a 10-day period.
"May 1, Philips Pro-Seal is going to come and fill the cracks and the potholes of the lot. Then they're going to use two coats of sealant to seal the lot, so it will be a perfectly flat, beautiful surface," Winslow said. "And then, my staff, folks from the adventure department -- the professional artists -- will work to tape off the lines."
The goal is to have "The Painted Parking Lot" installed ahead of the first outdoor concert, Volbeat, which is Saturday, May 20.
It will be a tall task, for sure, but Winslow said, "There are a few professional painting companies that have volunteered their services. Lewiston-Porter AP drawing and painting class, they're interested in coming and volunteering their time. Other members of the community are interested in volunteering.
"Sherwin-Williams has worked with us to help us get paint rollers and paint roll covers, and seven miles of masking tape. So, we'll tape the lines, we'll roll like crazy, and get it done in 10 days."
Though the area will be transformed into a work of art, it will remain a parking lot.
"It will be off-limits while we're painting it. But the reason we have 10 days is because we want to be able to park cars on it," Winslow said. "We have to be done painting approximately six days before that show, so that the paint has time to cure, and that people can park on it."
In lieu of traditional striped parking spaces, Winslow explained Artpark & Company plans to employ parking attendants, place cones in the middle of the lot, and possibly mark the curbs for periphery parking.
As this is Western New York, where weather can turn on a dime, Sherwin-Williams is providing Artpark & Company with special high-end paint.
"Sherwin-Williams is providing us with this product called 'Resilience,' which is a step up from what's used in airport runways," Winslow said. "It will be OK if it rains within (40-60) minutes of painting."
Artpark & Company's Kickstarter campaign sought to raise funds to pay for the parking lot resurfacing and sealing, paint color pigments, and staff (including those new parking attendants, as well as supervisors for the volunteers).
"Historically, Artpark was just this laboratory for artmakers, performance art. It was really just this laboratory for thinking and ideas, and creativity of all shapes and sizes," Winslow said. "There were tons of sort of like random little pieces of art that would pop up, as well as these large-scale artworks and these large-scale performances. And it was really just a place of joy. It was always busy; always full of life.
"Since (former President) George (Osborne) took over 16 years ago, he's been really trying to build that sense of community back up. And now that Sonia Clark has taken over, she's really saying, 'OK, these concerts are fantastic. They're full of life; they're full of energy; they're full of people. Let's bring that community and that energy and that life forward to a place where we're not just talking about rock concerts, but we're talking about visual arts; performance art; language arts; and really get that vibrance and energy flowing again.
"And I think this artwork is sort of a reference to the past, but it's also saying that the past repeats itself. So, what happened before can happen again."
Winslow said, "There are some key players that we couldn't have done it without. Michael Broderick from Orange Cat Coffee Co. was somebody that really championed this project, and he went around to fellow business owners. ... (He) helped it come to fruition. Alyson Lytle, one of our board members, was another champion of this project that really reached out to everyone. Dena Armstrong, our board chair, was also somebody just phenomenal that helped out.
"The folks on Facebook shared, donated, and it's phenomenal. It's super exciting."
Broderick said, "I got involved at the very beginning when Artpark posted the original project as a memory. It's one of my first memories of Lewiston and Artpark since I didn't grow up here. Once the project gained a bit of interest/traction, we began to pursue it with full force. Interest continued to grow through social media and round-table discussions held at Orange Cat.
"It was awesome to see the community rally around a project that will have such an awesome visual impact for our park and community. It brought back a lot of memories for people that were kids when the project was first installed in 1979. I'd guess that's where the bulk of our funding came from: Mostly people that wanted to re-create this same project for their kids or grandkids to enjoy."
He added, "I'm happy to know that this project will happen and be funded simply because of the incredible people from our community who supported it, both financially and through sharing the vision of our final goal."
Davis' estate is held by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Artpark & Company was granted permission to reproduce "Niagara 1979."
The Kickstarter campaign ran from Feb. 9 until April 9. Artpark & Company reported a total of 145 community backers.
NOW: Artpark & Company Director of Visual Arts & Family Programs Tanis Winslow points to a part of the gray area that will be transformed next month into "The Painted Parking Lot."
THEN and AGAIN: Gene Davis' "Niagara 1979"