Artists Paint Public Property

September 8, 2013 Updated Sep 8, 2013 at 9:07 PM EDT

By Kendra Eaglin

September 8, 2013 Updated Sep 8, 2013 at 9:07 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY
The spray paint cans are now in the hands of skilled local artists who are transforming light poles, utility boxes and trash cans into colorful unique works of art along Tonawanda Street, between Austin and Vulcan Streets in the Queen City's Riverside neighborhood.

"Looking around the neighborhood, I just really wanted to pick some colors that you really don't see," said Matthew Grote a local artist.

Artists were asked to submit sketches that reflected the rich history of the neighborhood which were then approved by organizers of the project, Community Canvases.

"I'm doing the War of 1812 because down the street near the break wall by Amherst and Tonawanda Street are depictions of the War of 1812," explained Russell Mott, another local artist.

Since being founded just six months ago, Community Canvases has already transformed lives with the start of this first project.

"The response from the community has been amazing. Kids have been coming up and some of our artists are actually art teachers in their professional lives and they've actually let the kids do a little painting on their project themselves," said Alexander Cornwell, Founder and President of Community Canvases.

North District Buffalo Common Council Member Joseph Golombeck added, "This eight year old kid comes over and paints...this might be what stimulates him in 10 years from now to decide he wants to be an artist because you never know what's going to strike somebody at an age."

Alex and Jim of Community Canvases say the statistics show beautification projects like these help curb graffiti and vandalism which they say helps foster safer connected communities.

Nonetheless, they are still taking precautions.

When each artist has completed their piece each structure will be treated with an anti-graffiti coating.

"We'll do routine maintenance...make sure that if it gets tagged we'll take care of it. But studies show that one percent of any of these projects ever get tagged because there's this weird kind of unspoken respect for public art amongst taggers," said Jim Montour, Vice President of Community Canvases.

For more information on Community Canvases go to News Links on the WKBW home page.