The last time that we paid a visit to this wall, youth from the Boys and Girls Club were in the process of giving it a fresh coat of primer (see post). Since then, a number of artists have been hard at work painting different Black Rock and Riverside scenes, all of which are quite vibrant, detailed and ultimately eye-catching. There are six murals total and the timeline reads from left to right. Each mural is 7’hx20’w. All of the artists were juried, and the project was funded thanks to a grant by the Buffalo and Erie County Greenway Commission. The effort is being headed up by the Historic Preservation Committee of the Black Rock/Riverside Good Neighbor Planning Alliance. The mural series is aimed towards teaching passersby about the district’s significant role played out in the War of 1812, the area’s industrial heritage, and its current path. Project coordinator Doreen DeBoth told me that, “The project will result in a real showpiece for the neighborhood. If the weather holds out, we will also include Peter Porter’s map of 1813 and a historical timeline which Russ Mott and myself will paint.” Following is the detailed info pertaining to each mural as provided by Doreen:
1) Native Americans & The Black Rock by J. Tim Raymond: Here raymond depicts Black Rock and Native Americans before the 1700’s when the Black Rock was known as “Kistangoi” in the Iroquois language. it was 200′ long and 300′ wide, made of chert and limestone, and offered a safe harbor for the villagers. The Native Americans grew corn, squash and beans, referred to as the ‘three sisters.” They are the physical and spiritual sustainers of life, and compose the main food supply for the Iroquois. They are painted in the lower left of the mural. Also incorporated into the mural is the profile apparition of Philip Conjockety for whom the Scajaquada Creek is named after.
2) War of 1812 by Russell Mott: Mott has painted the British bateaux that landed at the foot of Amherst Street, planning on torching the area of Black Rock and Buffalo (July11,1813). The American officer in the foreground on the right is ready to call in his troops to defend the area. Mott brilliantly included General Peter Porter’s house (original was on Niagara Street) to add more meaning to the mural and to create historical dialogue.
3) Erie Canal 1825 by Doreen DeBoth & Jerome A. Mach: The third mural, the Erie Canal, was designed by Doreen DeBoth and is being painted by Jerome A. Mach. Activities along the towpath are recreated with buildings and mules pulling packet boats. A portrait of Dewitt Clinton who was governor of New York State and presided over its opening in October of 1825 is included in the lower right portion of the mural. The celebration lasted ten days as Governor Clinton traveled from Albany to Buffalo aboard a packet boat.
4) Railroads & Industry by Joe Tempski: Tempski is portraying railroads and industry in the early 1800’s in Black Rock with a steam locomotive crossing the International Bridge during the early evening hours. Industrial buildings represent the thriving manufacturing area of Black Rock’s history and railroads are an important part of its growth.
5) Historical Architecture in Black Rock by Russell Mott: The theme of the fifth mural is historical architecture in Black Rock. Included in this mural will be Hook & Ladder #12, Saint Francis Xavier Church (now the Buffalo Religious Arts Center), Engine #15, St. John’s Church, 71 Amherst Street and Assumption Church. Russell Mott also painted the war of 1812 mural.
6) Black Rock Peace Garden by Cynthia Van Ens: The last mural’s theme is the Peace Garden. This garden is located at the corner of Hamiltion and Dearborn Streets and was once an empty lot. It is now a flourishing flower and vegetable garden that was created by the Dearborn Street Block Club for residents and visitors to enjoy. This reflects the community spirit and pride that resulted in beautifying the neighborhood. The Peace Tree signifies hope for the future and to create a peaceful community of all ethnicities living and working together. The man making repairs on the roof represent the rebuilding of a neighborhood that was beginning to crumble.
Flanking the six murals are two wider 30′ murals designed by Doreen DeBoth to the left of the historical murals and Cynthia Van Ens who designed the last mural. These two up-to-date murals were created for commun ity involvement from residents in Black Rock. Community painting day was last saturday, october 1.
7) Daytime Recreation by Doreen DeBoth: This mural depicts daytime recreational activities of residents along the Niagara River in Black Rock: a jogger with an ipod, men fishing and a couple pushing a stroller with twins.
8) Sunset along the Niagara by Cynthia Van Ens: In this mural, suset along the Niagara River is the backdrop of a family heading home after their bike ride.