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Artist’s “Sweet Sweet Summer” plans go before Lockport Common Council on Wednesday

LOCKPORT – Everything from lock-shaped bike racks to replicas of Easter Island moai heads made of papier-mâché and spackle has sprung from the fertile mind of Ellen Martin. They’re all aimed at enlivening Lockport’s summer this year.

The Common Council will vote Wednesday on approving the final version of the program of publicly artistic ideas cooked up by Martin, the former attorney and businesswoman who groups them under what is now almost a brand name: “Sweet Sweet Summer.”

In the past few years, Martin has produced public art ideas utilizing yarn bombing, used pianos and rocking chairs. This year, the plan is to create replicas of the famous rectangular faces mysteriously embedded in the sands of Easter Island.

She and a friend, Mollie Roland, have been making the heads in Roland’s home for the past few months, and the plan is for them to suddenly turn up in public places and events.

“There’s nothing symbolic about it. It’s just a goof,” Martin said.

Why? Why not? Or, as Martin has named it, “Moai Not.”

Moai is the local name for the Easter Island heads, pronounced like “why” with an M sound at the start.

Although Martin’s plan for “pop-up moai bombing” might be curtailed by wet weather, which would turn the papier-mâche to mush, Roland said, “It might get some social media attention.”

One of Martin’s most popular promotions is the chalk art festival, held on Canal Street. Last week, Martin asked the Council for permission to move the chalk weekend to the Pine Street Bridge, but the Council didn’t want to block the bridge for a weekend.

“We love the chalk festival. It’s great. The talent last year was amazing,” Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey said.

Martin said Canal Street has become busy, too, with the Community Market working well on Saturdays. She also wanted to move up the date from mid-August to early July. “By doing it earlier, you beat the Buffalo chalk festival. You get more publicity,” Martin said.

But she does intend to paint the text of a poem on the Canal Street pavement in May, where a map of the United States was painted last year. The poem was written by Irish poet Patrick Kavanaugh, and it mentioned locks and a canal, and even uses the made-up word “niagarously.”

Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III suggested erecting a statue of the poet along the canal; Martin said painting the poem on the street “is a low-cost alternative.”

Martin also said she has made arrangements with a welding class at the Orleans-Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services to make bicycle racks in the shape of a lock or a key. Five of each would be made by teacher Eric Farrell’s class at the Medina BOCES center, and Martin is springing for $1,500 worth of steel.

“I’ve already checked with the (Lockport Public) library. They want one,” Martin said.