Buffalo is currently enjoying a nice revival of public art. It’s been ages since we’ve seen so many public art installations being erected. From sculptures at the Outer Harbor, to murals along Hertel Avenue, inspirational works of art abound, and more is on the way!
Throughout the summer, and into the fall, El Museo (Buffalo-based nonprofit arts organization) will be busy implementing a new public art project titled Your Utica Station. El Museo will be implementing a series of temporary art exhibits inside the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority’s (NFTA) Utica Metro Rail Station. The installations will be a precursor to the redesign of the Metro Rail stations that are currently in the planning stages.
NFTA Metro Rail is the 20th-busiest light rail system in the country, according to the American Public Transportation Association.
Funds for the Your Utica Station art pop-ups are being allocated by BNMC Spark, a micro-grant program of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. (BNMC). The project is underway to create inspirational spaces throughout the Medical Campus, and around the perimeter. The program also allows art institutions such as El Museo to spread their wings beyond their galleries.
“We’re eager to present this project and are very excited to be given this opportunity by BNMC,” said William Vogel, El Museo’s Acting Executive Director. “This is part of a new initiative in keeping with our longstanding mission to exhibit work by underserved artists and engage diverse audiences and marginalized communities here in Buffalo and Western New York.” He added, “While the Metro Rail system has a beautiful permanent art collection and interesting station architecture, we hope to bring something fresh that can change over time and provide opportunities for underrepresented local artists.”
The Utica Station is not only busy, it also services a residential population that is underserved when it comes to art initiatives and experiences.
“As frequent transit riders, Will and I would often notice underused ad spaces, and sometimes plain ugly advertisements, on NFTA trains and buses, and imagine the potential for staging small interventions in these overlooked spaces,” said Bryan Lee, El Museo’s Curator. “I look forward to bringing a bit of unexpected visual interest and joy to our shared experience of taking public transportation.”
El Museo is in the process of launching a call for visual artists, illustrators, and designers based in Buffalo. Ultimately, three artists will be commissioned to produce artwork that will be displayed on the backs of ticket vending machines. The project is being orchestrated by El Museo and Lamar Advertising. A public unveiling is scheduled for fall. In advance of the unveiling, Vogel will be leading a tour of the Metro Rail system’s art and architecture on July 22.
Details of the project, including the call for artists, are available on the organization’s website, www.elmuseobuffalo.org.