Year after year, the PLAY/GROUND event amazes and astounds. Since 2018, the team of Emily Reynolds and Nando Alvarez-Perez (Buffalo Institute for Contemporary Art – BICA), and Elisabeth Samuels and Emily Tucker (Resource:Art) has been orchestrating numerous art installations throughout the region as part of its ongoing “Buffalo-based public art extravaganza.”
This year’s PLAY/GROUND will be a ten-day event from August 6-15. The public art installations will be sited within a 10-mile radius, that will allow for plenty of interaction with the art, while keeping in mind the importance of socially distancing with people.
The focus of this year’s PLAY/GROUND will extend from downtown Buffalo to the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood, while spotlighting the Central Terminal, Broadway Market, Matt Urban Center, and Canalside.
“We are excited to share our vision for this year’s art PLAY/GROUND, which will connect downtown Buffalo and the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood through art,” said Emily Tucker, director of Resource:Art. “Our goal for this year is to bring diverse communities together to reflect on unique perspectives, heal and grow together as one strong Western New York community. Our selection of this year’s venues is intentional, and we hope to engage new artists and new communities to create a shared experience that is engaging and accessible for all visitors.”
Currently, there is a call for artists for the 2021 event, which is sponsored by M&T Bank.
“PLAY/GROUND is a wonderful opportunity for art to display its ability to heal, to connect and to open avenues for wonder and creativity,” said Nancy Brock, vice president and program director of The M&T Charitable Foundation. “We at M&T Bank are grateful to participate in this very accessible, interactive public art program that will connect residents of the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhoods and beyond.”
One of the focal locations for installations and accompanying programming is the Central Terminal, which is interesting considering that there has been a recent push towards rethinking the complex as an art-driven destination. During a virtual public meeting, the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation (CTRC) presented a number of conceptual design options and development scenarios for the Terminal’s grounds and interior, much of which centered around the station complex as a cultural hub for the East Side (a final plan will be available in 6 to 8 weeks.) One might say that the Central Terminal’s relationship with PLAY/GROUND is a precursor for what’s to come (super-sized of course).
Broadway-Fillmore is the perfect epicenter for this event; a neighborhood that is welcoming, hopeful and striving, despite demographics that represent hardship.
That’s the great thing about PLAY/GROUND – it’s mobile and it’s versatile, meaning that it can inspire people in neighborhoods that might not normally have access to cultural-art amenities. Ultimately, the underserved neighborhoods see plenty of benefits, including economic boosts for small businesses. To that end, the PLAY/GROUND event team is working towards establishing “creative hubs with diverse events and attendees.” It will be interesting to see how these establishing relationships play out in years to come.
Public art proposals will be accepted beginning Friday, May 7th, on the PLAY/GROUND website, through June 4, 2021. Two Zoom information sessions for artists will be held in May, with more information forthcoming. This is an all ages event.
COVID-19 guidelines not only continue to be followed by PLAY/GROUND, but are also a driving force behind this year’s event. As the entirety of the festival will be contained within a 10-mile radius, attendees are encouraged to walk and bike between displays, to promote health and wellness while enjoying and exploring creativity. Together with Go Bike Buffalo and Buffalo Bike Tours, PLAY/GROUND will have several ways for participants to be ready to cycle between the installations safely.
Lead image: Shasti O’Leary Soudant – Project Octobloc! at Canalside