Grant received for Lewiston community project
By Joshua Maloni
Artpark & Company is looking to connect the state park to the Village of Lewiston, creating both a dynamic artwork and clearer pathway to the visual and performing arts center.
Curatorial Projects Manager David Seide appeared before the Village of Lewiston Historic Preservation and Planning commissions boards on Monday. Accompanied by Gallo Restaurants proprietor Michael Hibbard, Seide explained Artpark received a grant to create a mural titled “You Will Never Walk Alone” by artist Muhammad Zaman. Funding was granted as part of the “Artpark Works” program, funded by the John R. Oishei Foundation and the First Niagara Foundation in partnership with KeyBank.
“Every year for the last few years, we’ve had an artist in residence. And this one, we decided on a visual artist,” Seide said. “And similar to the ‘Painted Parking Lot’ and similar to The Solo Roths project where they painted the big, huge parking lot, this is also a mural that would be on the ground. And originally it was just within the boundaries of Artpark, because it's kind of hard to get from the booth, if you're walking. If you're a pedestrian. If you're walking from Fourth into the park, there's no sidewalk. So, he's basically going to create a sidewalk.
“The idea was we want to do a wayfinding project that's public art, that doesn't put signs everywhere – because everybody knows signage has just been a real issue. … This is a nice way to tie in Center Street to Artpark.
“It would be on the east side of the street. And it would start at Michael's restaurant, and it kind of forms an arrow on that one corner, so you're kind of guided that way. The artist, Muhammad Zaman, is a well-known artist in Buffalo. He's done some stuff in the Falls at the Heritage Museum.
“So, we'll start with just basically large-scale calligraphy, is what it is; it's beautiful, handmade etchings on the ground. And the title of his piece is ‘You Will Never Walk Alone.’ It's going to start with two letters, and then it’ll keep getting more dense as it gets towards the park until it becomes a full-length sidewalk.”
In a letter of intent Artpark submitted to the Village of Lewiston, Zaman explained his work is “based on the concept that sharing a path is connecting people.”
“The surface I would paint is the path starting from 4th & Center St with threads (couple letters) and gets more dense as it approaches the park and then once in the park it is an actual ‘carpet,’ ” he wrote. “From Center to Cayuga it might only be 2 letters/symbols every in 2-3 yards, Cayuga to Seneca it might be 3-4 letters in every 2-3 yards, Seneca to Tuscarora it could be 4 letters in 6 spots, then after Tuscarora as it enters the park grounds it gets more and more dense unit it's a full carpet on the inner road that'll act as a new pedestrian sidewalk, then it turns right onto the actual sidewalk as it approaches the flagpoles.
“It would be an abstract juxtaposition of lettering in different colors, most of the large path will be entirely painted and some other points would be lightly decorated with the same colors and style to pursue continuity and a playful essence as you can see in the pics below (although the colors in the photos may not represent the final colors of the project).
“The colorful and joyful nature of my abstract painting is suitable for different ages, cultures, ethnicity, and the materials I will use are weather-resistant and easy to maintain.”
Both boards were asked to listen to the presentation and offer suggestions. At a meeting this Monday, the Board of Trustees is expected to make a final decision on whether this artwork will be permitted along South Fourth Street.
Planning Board member Savana Bevacqua said Artpark’s idea is good, but expressed concern the mural would serve as a promotion for the new Gallo Coal Fire Kitchen at North Fourth and Center.
“I looked over this and I immediately saw an advertisement that's for Gallo. It seems specific to draw the crowds from Artpark directly to Gallo,” she said.
Hibbard noted, “It’s actually going the other way. It's starting at Fourth Street and Center, and then moving to Artpark.”
Bevacqua said, “This really feels like it's drawing a crowd to or from Gallo to Artpark.”
Village of Lewiston Mayor Anne Welch explained, “Before COVID, the artist community met here to decide to have public art in the village – whether it's in Academy Park (or) along Center Street connecting to Artpark. So, this is kind of part of what we have been talking about. And because Artpark wants to be included in the village – and to show that we have a connection – this came up as a way of connecting the village to Artpark, with this kind of designs on the sidewalk. It's not full design all the way down; it’s sections of it.
“And like I say, we have talked about this corner in our arts meeting, because Mike is going to have his art and maybe other people's art displayed at his corner; and this is just another part of it that we thought would incorporate art in the village. So, that's why this came up.”
Welch said people from out of town often ask her for directions to Artpark. She noted this project – cultural and aesthetic value notwithstanding – would serve as a suitable marker pointing pedestrians to the venue.
She noted South Fourth Street residents were notified of this proposal, and anyone can opt out of having art in front of their residence.
Monday’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the Red Brick Municipal Building, 145 N. Fourth St.
Both Seide and Hibbard said this could be the start of additional art projects tying in other businesses. For this particular project, however, the grant application and end-of-August deadline would only allow the mural to extend down South Fourth Street.
“If other businesses want to have art in front of their place, on top of their place, we’re trying to create synergies and collaborative efforts so that the community feels like they own part of Artpark, just as much as Artpark is part of the village,” Seide said. “In my 50-some-odd-years, it’s always felt like a little bit of a disconnect. So, I think we’re trying to make a connection without being obtrusive. …
“I think it’s a very generous thing for Artpark to do, to basically donate public art to the village.”
The paint is said to be like what was used on the “Painted Parking Lot” – which lasted for decades at Artpark – and of the same durability as traditional road striping. It can be created with slip-resistant grit and some degree of solar reflection.
Welch said the mural shouldn’t have any effect on Center Street’s 2022 repaving, which will be overseen by the New York State Department of Transportation.
If the Village Board turns down the art project request, Seide said the mural will begin and end in Artpark.