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Murals on Hertel Avenue: public art brings vibrant colors and unique touches to the community

Posted at 5:49 PM, Jul 26, 2019

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — City leaders and elected officials unveiled a mural of Mark Twain and John Lewis on 1188 Hertel Avenue Friday morning.

This mural, along with many others on Hertel, started as an initiative to bring art and vibrant colors to Buffalo communities.

"Four, five years ago we hardly had any public art in our community and now people are talking about coming to Buffalo as a destination for tourism for public art," said Mark Poloncarz, Erie County Executive.

The Albright-Konx Art Gallery's Public Art Initiative started with its first mural four years ago. Now, there are more than 40 projects.

"To move from that moment to this moment in that short span of time has meant a great deal," said Aaron Ott, Albright-Knox Curator of Public Art.

The new mural, painted by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra, is displayed on the side of the Ivy Rose Senior Apartments, which is operated by People Inc.

To them, this became a new landmark that makes them stand out.

"We used to always say 'Oh, look for Jerry Garcia and you will find us.' Now we can say look for Mark Twain and John Lewis and you'll find us," said Rhonda Frederick, President and CEO of People Inc.

The mural is of historic significance too. Twain lived in Buffalo from 1869 to 1871.

In 1877, John Lewis met Twain after he stopped a runaway horse and buggy carrying Twain's sister-in-law and her daughter, saving them from almost certain death.

The two became great friends for the rest of their lives. They're buried next to each other in Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira.

"Public art is not just something that enriches our eyes, it enriches our mind. It enriches our soul, and we are a better community for it," said Poloncarz.