El Museo is excited to announce Your Utica Station, a new public art project by the Buffalo-based nonprofit arts organization. Taking place in the summer and fall of 2018, the project will engage local artists to create temporary art exhibits in the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority’s (NFTA) Utica Metro Rail Station.
This project is funded in part by BNMC Spark, a micro-grant program of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. (BNMC), designed to showcase creative ideas and strategies to support stakeholders within the neighborhoods surrounding the BNMC.
Your Utica Station is intended to be the first in a series of art in transit installations that aims to extend El Museo’s arts programming beyond its gallery space in Buffalo’s Allentown neighborhood. “We’re eager to present this project and are very excited to be given this opportunity by BNMC,” said William Vogel, El Museo’s Acting Executive Director. “This is part of a new initiative in keeping with our longstanding mission to exhibit work by underserved artists and engage diverse audiences and marginalized communities here in Buffalo and Western New York.” He added, “While the Metro Rail system has a beautiful permanent art collection and interesting station architecture, we hope to bring something fresh that can change over time and provide opportunities for underrepresented local artists.”
NFTA Metro Rail is the 20th-busiest light rail system in the country, according to the American Public Transportation Association. Located at Main and East Utica Streets in Buffalo, Utica Station is a busy transit hub serving Metro Rail as well as the heavily-used Metro Bus Routes #12 Utica and #13 Kensington. According to the 2017 NFTA Onboard Survey conducted by the Greater Buffalo–Niagara Regional Transportation Council, the connection between Rail and Route #12 was the top transfer pair out of almost 10,000 surveyed transit users. Further, the report found that over 60% of NFTA riders are people of color, and almost two-thirds of respondents reported a household income of less than $25,000.
“As frequent transit riders, Will and I would often notice underused ad spaces, and sometimes plain ugly advertisements, on NFTA trains and buses, and imagine the potential for staging small interventions in these overlooked spaces,” said Bryan Lee, El Museo’s Curator. “I look forward to bringing a bit of unexpected visual interest and joy to our shared experience of taking public transportation.”
Your Utica Station will launch this summer with an open call for visual artists, illustrators, and designers based in Buffalo who are interested in being part of the project. Three finalists will be commissioned to produce artwork to be displayed on the backs of ticket vending machines in Utica Station. The process will be facilitated by El Museo and Lamar Advertising, with a public unveiling set for this fall. Also, William Vogel, Acting Executive Director of El Museo, will lead a tour of the Metro Rail system’s art and architecture this July. Details of the project will be available on the organization’s website (elmuseobuffalo.org) and social media pages.
The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. (BNMC Inc.) is a self-sustaining social enterprise successfully combining innovation, job creation, and urban revitalization. The BNMC fosters conversation and collaboration among its member institutions, its partners and the community to address critical issues impacting them, including entrepreneurship, energy, access and transportation, workforce and procurement, neighborhoods, and healthy communities, with the goal of increasing economic development and building a strong community.