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Artists working on murals for Cobblestone Commons (working title) mural project. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

Location: NFTA Yard (DL&W Terminal) (Get Directions)

Over the course of two summers (2020–2021) twelve artists from the Western New York community and beyond will paint twelve individual murals on the South Park Avenue façade of the NFTA Yard (DL&W Terminal) located in downtown Buffalo’s Historic Cobblestone District. The proximity of this area to the Erie and Hamburg Canals, the Buffalo River, and the Buffalo Harbor made it an industrial, maritime, and product-manufacturing center, especially throughout the nineteenth century. Today it is a vibrant hub of bars, restaurants, and live entertainment venues as well as the home to the annual Cobblestone Live festival. In 2014, the National Parks Service placed the Cobblestone District on the National Register of Historic Places. 
 
The artists working over summer 2020 are Obsidian Bellis (American, born 1993); Jason Brammer (American, born 1974); Lauren McKenzie, aka Lady Noel (American, born 1988); Ellen Rutt (American, born 1989); James Moffitt, aka Yames (American, born 1987); and Bradd Young, aka SALUT (American, born 1994). These muralists include three regional artists, three female artists, and three Black artists. The artists working over summer 2021 will be selected and announced in 2021.  

Artist SALUT working on his mural for the Cobblestone Commons (working title) mural project. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

Artist Obsidian Bellis working on their mural for the Cobblestone Commons (working title) mural project. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

About the Artists

Obsidian Bellis

Obsidian Bellis is an artist and DIY organizer born and raised on the East Side of Buffalo. After traveling and living in other places on the East Coast and Midwest, Bellis now resides on Buffalo’s West Side. Bellis sees her creative drive as a method to bring something new and novel into existence. Finding inspiration in such wide-ranging sources as from magical illustrations found in fifteenth to nineteenth–century Coptic prayer scroll amulets and Ethiopian illuminated manuscripts to mythology and Afrofuturism, Bellis’s signature style is a mixture of illustrative and mystical forms often incorporating spectacular natural elements with fantastical figures.

Jason Brammer

Jason Brammer is a Chicago-based visual artist known for his murals, site-specific installations, distinctive paintings, and mixed-media hand-painted assemblages. Brammer’s murals often veer into fantastic worlds but utilize a more formal trompe l'oeil style that pierces otherwise solid forms and allows viewers to envision a portal to another place. He has received commissions from prominent clients such as LinkedIn, Hulu, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Shedd Aquarium, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the band My Morning Jacket.  
  
Brammer’s art has also been exhibited in numerous prestigious venues, including the Hangaram Design Museum in Seoul, South Korea; 751D Park in Beijing, China; the Union League Club of Chicago; La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles; Linda Warren Projects in Chicago; Rockford Art Museum in Illinois; Governors State University in Chicago; SCOPE Miami Beach; and Museo Internazionale Italia Arte in Turin, Italy. 

Lauren McKenzie

Cleveland-based artist Lauren McKenzie, aka Lady Noel, creates a vast variety of work that focuses on diversity and bridging the black and white halves of her identity. Originally from West Palm Beach, Florida, the artist spends most of her time either in her studio or working on murals in her community that create conversations around identity, race, and womanhood. Using an array of materials and hues to highlight the beauty of people of color in her life, most of her work features portraits of either individuals she personally knows or are derived from her own imagination as though from a melting pot of faces. She was the first Black woman to paint a mural in the City of Cleveland.

Ellen Rutt

Ellen Rutt is a Detroit-based interdisciplinary artist who utilizes an abstract lexicon of layered shapes and primary colors in her improvisational and evocative installations. She facilitates conversations between materiality and movement, between place and process. Her site-specific installations, mixed-media paintings, and textiles examine notions of belonging and exclusion that expose a divide between nature and culture in the American experience.   
  
Rutt graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan. She has exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit Institute of Arts, Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids, East Hawaii Cultural Center/Hawaii Museum of Contemporary Art, and pt. 2 Gallery in Los Angeles. She has completed murals and installations in France, New York, San Francisco, Canada, and Hawaii, among other locations around the world. She has been featured in Juxtapoz, Forbes, W, alive, Loam, and was recently named one of twenty-four changemakers in 2020 by Hour Detroit Magazine

James “Yames” Moffitt

James “Yames” Moffitt is a Buffalo native and co-founder of Pine Apple Company, an artist collective and gallery located in Buffalo’s Allentown neighborhood. Having formally trained at Pratt Institute, Yames is a multidisciplinary graphic artist who specializes in hand-painted signs, typography, illustration, murals, and more. You can see his work on businesses throughout Buffalo, including Hydraulic Hearth, Sato Brewpub, Larkin Square, and the National Grid’s Terminal Station B. Though this will be Yames’s first mural with the Public Art Initiative, he has assisted on numerous other projects for the Initiative.  

SALUT

SALUT is the visual arts moniker of the Rochester-based artist Bradd Young. Young studied graphic design and studio art in Virginia where he began organizing pop-up exhibitions that would eventually lead Young to open up a studio in Western New York after graduation. It was then that Young began to develop a color palette of soft pastels and a style merging his loves of cartoonish surrealism and fine art.  
  
Young has displayed work in Virginia and at several venues in both Western New York and New York City. In 2018, SALUT was the only local muralist featured in the eleventh annual WALL\THERAPY project in Rochester. In February 2019, SALUT was celebrated as one of the exciting talented artists at the Memorial Art Gallery’s MAG social. In Spring 2019, Young designed several labels for Trophy Brewery Co. in North Carolina. In 2020, Young was selected by Memorial Art Gallery to design the posters, cards, and pamphlets for the promotion of the museum’s annual fundraiser, An Artists’ Affair at the MAG.  
  
Young is a featured artist of the Rochester-based gallery, UUU Art Collective, which acts as a venue to both curate upcoming young artists and musicians and promote community activism. Currently, SALUT paintings are displayed throughout businesses in downtown Rochester. 

Project Sponsors

Cobblestone Commons (working title) is made possible by Ferguson Electric, Labatt, Buffalo Iron Works, Lockhouse Distillery, Pegula Sports Entertainment, Port X Logistics, Savarino Companies, Abbey Mecca, Clark Patterson Lee, ECIDA, RP Oak Hill Building Company, Inc., Gilbane Building Company, and Julia Spitz. 
  
Additional support provided by C-2 Paint and Red Disk. 

Initiative Sponsors

The Public Art Initiative was established and is supported by leadership funding from the County of Erie and the City of Buffalo.

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