More information on ‘Lewiston Public Art Project’
By Joshua Maloni
The Town of Lewiston voted Thursday to withdraw its endorsement of the “Lewiston Public Art Project’s” metal art frames. Council members rescinded the third part of the Lewiston Council on the Arts’ proposal – opting to not present this component for Niagara River Greenway funding – based on recent actions taken by village trustees.
Supervisor Steve Broderick said his board recently approved all three phases of the LCA proposal – a mural at the Academy Park comfort station, “Lewiston”-branded benches at the Discover Niagara Shuttle stops on Center Street, and metal art frames – “under the impression that all those details had been worked out with the village. And, apparently, they have not been worked out.”
He noted the Village Board only approved the mural and the benches, action that was identified at the trustees’ Oct. 2 meeting when a vote was made to pause any action on the frames.
Broderick put forth a motion to pull the LCA’s request for $90,000 and, instead, request a total of $30,000 to fund the mural and the benches. His board unanimously agreed.
He explained, “I made a promise – and I think this board made a promise – to the Council on the Arts to fund that project, if they can work it out with the village. So, if they get it sorted out with the village, I am not opposed to continuing the funding at the original amount. I think everybody here would support that.”
Greenway money would come via the New York Power Authority through the Host Communities Standing Committee, of which the Town of Lewiston is a member.
The Village Board will discuss the “Lewiston Public Art Project” with the Historic Preservation Commission and the Planning Commission at a joint public meeting set for 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16, in the Red Brick Municipal Building, 145 N. Fourth St.
Pictured is Dan Buttery’s rendering of a metal art frame that is part of the proposed “Lewiston Public Art Project.”
River Region residents posed additional questions regarding the planned “Lewiston Public Art Project” following a report in last week’s Niagara County Tribune/Sentinel. They asked:
•Where would the proposed metal frames be located?
As part of the Lewiston Council on the Arts’ proposal, metal fabricator Dan Buttery would be tasked with creating up to 10 double-sided, 8-foot-tall, sculptured frames with a solar-powered art-deco top light. The purpose would be to display and promote local art and artists.
A pitch to the Town of Lewiston and Niagara River Greenway Commission suggested the signs could be placed along Center Street.
However, when speaking with the Village of Lewiston Board of Trustees last week, Buttery said, “These spots that we’ve proposed, they’re not set in stone. They can be moved.”
LCA Executive Director Maria Fortuna Dean said, “The placement is not determined. … The positions are not set.”
At the board meeting, Mayor Anne Welch suggested artworks and metal frames could be placed along the Academy Park peripheral, in coordination with a proposed bike path extension.
Trustee Tina Coppins suggested Artpark and Seneca “Bug” Park – next to the Lewiston Public Library – as viable alternative locations.
•What is the bike trail/Greenway component to this plan?
The LCA seeks $90,000 in Greenway funding for the $153,533 “Lewiston Public Art Project.” It could receive such funds through the Host Communities Standing Committee, with an endorsement from HCSC member the Town of Lewiston.
The Niagara River Greenway Commission is in the midst of spearheading a $200 million Empire State Trail, a 750-mile path that “welcomes bicyclists and hikers to explore New York state’s extraordinary experiences, people and places.” The passageway will connect Manhattan to Montreal – and, locally, Buffalo to Porter.
Presently, there is a stop into the Village of Lewiston, at Seneca and South Ninth streets. The bike path extends down North Ninth Street, turning to Mohawk Street and out to River Road.
In 2020 and 2021, Greenway Executive Director Greg Stevens met with trustees and held public meetings regarding a proposal to extend the bike path down Center Street. After much debate, and in consultation with the New York State Department of Transportation, Welch said that bike route isn’t possible.
Instead, she explained in February 2021, “We decided to come out of Academy Park and go down Cayuga Street. … It’ll go through the historic district. We plan on putting signage … to redo the historic district with the antique lights and the signage. We’re trying to enhance the historic district.
“But the bike path will come down Cayuga Street to Fourth Street; from Fourth to Center; it will come past the playground here (at the Red Brick Municipal Building) or down to the waterfront. There’s going to be signage along the way for people to bike. And then it will go out River Road” to Fort Niagara and into Porter.
There wouldn’t be a dedicated bike lane, but the road(s) would be striped to note bike access.
Last week, Welch said, “Initially, we started our art group (citizen committee) because we wanted more art in the Village of Lewiston. We wanted to tie it in with our bike path. … We wanted Academy Park (and its stopover comfort station) to display some art. … We thought that would be nice along the pathway. It’s beautiful to walk in the park, but it’s nice to be able to view some of the artists’ works.”
Stevens has said the trail could welcome upward of 8.5 million people annually.
At the recent board meeting, he stated, “To the extent you can creatively use arts and gardens, we would adjust our funding policies to minimize signage and maximize arts and gardens.”
He also warned Lewiston interests need to get on the same page, as far as participation in the bike trail goes: “Next summer, we’re going to build an amazing trail through Artpark. If we don’t come up with a better solution for the village, we’ll have no choice but to go around the village. We’ll leave the village out of the trail system. It would be a shame, because people want to come to the village. They want to go to the shops. But you need to come to some consensus on what you want it to look like, so that we can support something which really benefits the village.”
•Who decides what art pieces are showcased?
The metal frames – and perhaps art shows, too – would be part of a “Lewiston Living Art Gallery.”
Dean shared a document with the Tribune/Sentinel titled “Guest Curators for Lewiston Public Art Project.” It states:
“For each Art Show, a guest curator will be selected by the Public Art Group, a committee facilitated by the Lewiston Council on the Arts.
“The ideal make-up of the Public Art Group will be
“√ Local Artists
“√ Local Business Owners
“√ Local Arts Educators
“√ Representative from the Village Administration
“√ Representatives from the Village Beautification Committee
“√ Representatives from the Lewiston Area Historical Society
“The guest curator and the Public Art Group will collaborate in developing an exhibition.
“√ A curator might come to the LCA with an exhibition proposal in either an early or a well-formed state
“√ The LCA might approach a guest curator with a nascent or developed exhibition concept – or even simply an invitation to develop a proposal
“•Some suggestions from our meeting for possible temporary, themed art exhibits include
“√ Selections from Lew Port High School Art Shows (Student Artists, Alumni Artists)
“√ Historical Paintings of the Lower Niagara River Region
“√ Haudenosaunee Art and Culture
“√ Portraits of local historical figures (A mix of existing and newly created paintings)
“√ ‘New York State of Mind’ ”
Dean cited guidelines from the College Art Association in the creation of this form.
At the meeting, she noted art in the metal frames would be switched out at regular intervals.