NIAGARA FALLS – With all the negative talk in politics about walls, these are walls everyone can support.
Artists are painting murals on the exterior walls of buildings between the 400 block of Third Street and Ferry Avenue as part of a city-sponsored project called Art Alley, which is expected to open sometime in August.
When Art Alley is complete, organizers say it will be a safe, lighted walkway to new public parking areas behind Third Street.
Niagara Falls Community Development Director Seth Piccirillo said Art Alley will primarily serve Niagara Falls residents who are moving into apartments on Third Street and are having trouble finding parking. Parking has become an issue as a number of restaurants and other small businesses have begun to expand to Third Street, including Power City Eatery, a coffee and sandwich shop set to open soon in the 400 block of Third Street.
“There’s some parking congestion, but there’s big difference between tourist and resident parking,” said Piccirillo. “We wanted a connection that was lit, safe and we want people to know it is back there.”
Once overgrown, dark and hidden, Art Alley will be a connection to free parking and is also envisioned as a location for events.
“We want this to be a cool space and a fun space, but we want it to be well-lit,” added Piccirillo. “It’s a very unique space so we want to do unique activities, like morning yoga, or music, or maybe events like a VW bug car show - just something different that would make people want to spend time in the alley.”
pedestrian walkways such as those off of Webster Street in North Tonawanada and off of Center Street in Lewiston, as well as pedestrian walkways in Toronto, were a model for Art Alley.
National Grid provided a grant of $40,000 for the build out of the space and lighting, and Sherwin Williams was also another major sponsor of Art Alley, said Piccirillo. Other sponsors have paid $500 to sponsor each mural, including Niagara Beautification and Niagara Falls City Schools. Local taxpayer money is not being used, he said.
Piccirillo said altogether there is $8,500 worth of art on the walls. Local artists have put in their time, not for money, but to be part of the project.
Rob Lynch, Niagara Falls High School art teacher, is the curator for Art Alley.
Other artists include:
Fritz Proctor, a 2015 Niagara Falls High School graduate; Kyle Baillargeon, a 2016 NFHS graduate; Tricia Butski, AJ Fries, Brandon Celi, Tom Holt, Chuck Tingley, Tara Marie Mitravitch; Madonna Pannell, Jesse Mank and Rick Nickel.
“This will be a perfect backdrop for tourists, as well as wedding parties,” said Piccirillo.. “We want people to come in here and take pictures.”
He said the goal is to make public art something Niagara Falls is known for and also make people walk into the city to find public art.