Buffalo poetry mosaic, now in storage, to get new home - The Buffalo News
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Buffalo poetry mosaic, now in storage, to get new home

For years, the words of Buffalo poets Alberto Cappas, Juan Gonzalez and Olga Mendell spoke out from a blue-and-purple tiled wall in the Metro Rail's Allen/ Medical Campus Station.

"Buffalo gives me wings," one of the poems began.

Another: "Who would have guessed it

a home

so far from home

here in Buffalo"

The tile mosaic, first installed in the 1980s, was packed away when the station underwent a recent reconfiguration as part of a project to locate the University at Buffalo's medical school on Main Street.

Now, the artwork is headed for a new home. Discussions are underway to locate the mosaic in the John R. Oishei Children's Hospital when it opens on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus later this year.

No formal contract is in place yet between the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, which owns the piece, and the children's hospital, but two art curators said the piece is under consideration for a "City of Good Neighbors"-themed floor in the new hospital.

Scott Propeack, volunteer curator of art for Oishei Children's Hospital and co-director of the Burchfield Penney Art Center, described it as a "stand-out piece" for the new hospital. The transit authority is storing the artwork, and it will be repaired before going to its new home.

"This is a collaborative effort to place the artwork in the most appropriate place," said NFTA spokeswoman Helen Tederous. "We are keeping it safe and secure and will take the lead from Albright-Knox on where it goes next."

The hospital's City of Good Neighbors floor will link the building through covered walkways to the Conventus medical building, the medical school, Buffalo General Medical Center and Gates Vascular Institute.

Propeack credited Aaron Ott, public art curator at Albright-Knox Art Gallery, for reaching out to him with the idea of locating the tile mosaic in the hospital.

"NFTA reached out to me about this artwork and finding it a good home," Ott said. "I thought this would be a good spot. It's a very positive piece and would get a lot of visibility in that location. It was a good fit."

At the time the poetry wall was created, the Latin Gallery Group coordinated the wall with a handful of Buffalo poets and two local artists. Poetry is displayed on tile over colored enamel fused to copper tile.

The NFTA earlier this year installed a new public artwork called "Gut Flora" by Buffalo artist Shasti O’Leary Soudant in the Allen/Medical Campus Station. The sculpture features brightly colored strands that reach up to the station's ceiling and resemble the structure of DNA.

The station now exits from the first floor of the UB building that will house the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences when it opens later this year.

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