Thursday, October 18, 2007

Inspiring Art

I attended the official unveiling of a new art project in downtown Jamestown this afternoon. It's one of the cooler things happening in regards to an existing building in the Central Business District. Vacant store fronts are a problem in our city, and one of those include a building on the corner of Third & Washington Streets. Fortunately, this art project will at least beautify the building until a permanent tenant can be found. Plus, the talent of the kids who created the art is pretty impressive.

The Arts Council for Chautauqua Co. and the Jamestown Public Art Steering Committee is pleased to announce the unveiling of its first public art project in Jamestown.

The art, created by Aspire of Western New York's iXpress Art Program, is comprised of eight painted Plexiglas panels and nine panels of word art derived and imaginatively interpreted from Jamestown's assets as identified in the Urban Design Plan. The paintings feature visual representations of the city, the river, the region's people, history and landmarks, as well as the region's arts and heritage and will be illuminated at night.

Arts Council Executive Director, David Schein says, “The Grants Building on Third Street has been vacant for some years and the owner, The Gebbie Foundation, wanted to use its windows to add aesthetic value to downtown Jamestown. At the same time, because the Urban Plan for Jamestown prominently features public art, the Arts Council brought local artists and community members together with the Downtown Jamestown Development Corporation and the City of Jamestown to form the Jamestown Public Art Steering Committee (JPArt). Aspire's submission was unanimously chosen by the JPArt panel as the best idea for the Grants Building's windows.”

Aspire's Southern Tier iXpress art instructor, Sara Baker Michalak, says, “The team of artists enjoyed a spirit of collaboration as they realized they were all contributing to one major piece of artwork. Virtually all 35 people who attend Aspire’s day services at our Mall Boulevard site participated.
The fact that the artwork would be displayed at such a public site only added to their feelings of accomplishment. It's a great opportunity for the public to gain an appreciation for the talents of people with developmental disabilities."

Arts Council Director Schein continued, “This beautiful installation will brighten up a somewhat dingy intersection in the heart of downtown. Aspire¹s design is strong and beautifully reflects the nature of the community, its architecture, history and ecology. The work really shows the community what high quality art can come from artists with disabilities. We can't thank the Gebbie Foundation enough for providing this commission and for letting us use this project as a pilot project for the Jamestown Public Arts Steering Committee. We hope in the future to create many more projects for Jamestown and in doing so, to offer opportunities for artists to make downtown Jamestown a visually dynamic place.”

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