Niagara Falls Selects Artist for $435,000 Public Outlay for ‘Sculpture Art’ at Traffic Circle

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Rendering of Sculpture for Niagara Falls’ Centennial Circle is unveiled

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Photoshopped picture of how the sculpture will look at Centennial Circle.

 

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster has been working on getting a sculpture placed in what is called Centennial Circle since 2009, planning to spend some $435,000 – plus annual maintenance – to do so.

This summer, it looks like the city will accomplish the task.

The $435,000 plan, now on the high burner, following Dyster’s reelection to a third term of office, will see a taxpayer funded sculpture erected at the “Centennial” traffic circle which is at the intersection at Third Street and Rainbow Boulevard in downtown Niagara Falls.

The city has selected what will be a 38-foot by 35-foot “sail-like” sculpture to be built by artist Jeff Laramore.

A rendering of the proposed work was shown to the City Council at their last meeting of 20http://southbuffalonews.com5.

The “piece” is meant to commemorate the http://southbuffalonews.com00th anniversary of the http://southbuffalonews.com909 Boundary Water’s Treaty between the U.S. and Canada which was signed to govern the shared use of the Niagara River.

While Mayor Paul Dyster said the Boundary Waters Treaty was one of the first environmental accords in history, the record shows that the environmental degradation of the Niagara River and the siphoning of the hydro power generated there away from local residents’ use have not made this historic treaty one to emulate.

While some expressed surprise that Niagara Falls would spend $435,000 on a sculpture on a small traffic circle – Centennial Circle, not counting sidewalks, measures 40 feet across –  $335,000 of the money is coming from Niagara Falls’ share of the New York Power Authority’s Niagara River Greenway money and $50,000 is coming from state taxpayers via USA Niagara. $50,000 is coming from city taxpayers.

According to a report in the Niagara Gazette, the search for the artist was headed by Public Art Curator Aaron Ott of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Ort compiled a list of 20 artists, then a selection committee, which included Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti, settled on four artists. The four submitted responses to “requests for proposal,” and Laramore, who has produced taxpayer funded pieces in Indianapolis, Dallas and Virginia Beach, was selected.

A look at the line budget for the Centennial Circle project shows that only a fraction of the money will go to the sculpture itself: $http://southbuffalonews.com20,000 is earmarked for “irrigation improvements” on the site; $50,000 for announcing and managing the artist selection contest; $http://southbuffalonews.com25,000 for the “art” itself, $75,000 for site work and $http://southbuffalonews.com5,000 for an interpretive sidewalk display that will explain why the artwork is there in the first place. Another $50,000 is earmarked for “soft costs” and “oversight,” which could include design work and consulting studies.

As quoted in the Niagara Gazette, the artist designed his proposed work, writing, “A ribbon of water surrounded and protected by great nations. One may see the flags representing nations or as analogues to hands allowing a stream of water to flow freely between them, yet shielding it from harm.

“Others may see the lags as protective screens, or some form of fortification guarding this valuable resource.

“All, a representation of the nations’ understanding and respect for how vital, powerful and precious our waterways are,” Laramore wrote.

The Reporter has previously criticized the expenditure of $435,000 of public money to “spruc(e) up of a humble traffic island to honor the signing of a little known treaty back when William Howard Taft occupied the White House.”

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Artist rendering of Sculpture: He describes it: “A ribbon of water surrounded and protected by great nations. One may see the flags representing nations or as analogues to hands allowing a stream of water to flow freely between them, yet shielding it from harm.
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Aerial view of traffic circle
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Centennial Traffic Circle as it appeared last summer.

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The traffic circle which is about to get sculpture is adjacent to the Hotel Niagara.
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Never heard of the Boundary Waters Treaty? Don’t worry, nobody else has either. The primary purpose of the treaty was to settle disputes arising over the use of water diverted from lakes and rivers separating the countries for use in farm irrigation.

 

 

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