Public Art - Table of Contents         ..................   Hamburg - Table of Contents

"Alchemy" mural
20 Union Street, Hamburg, NY

September 2013 Google Map

August 2018 photos

Side of the mural   ...   Mural artist:  Chuck Tingley   ...   Three details below:

August 2018 photos

Mural front, on the back of the building   ...   Note four  6-foot high privacy fence posts   ...   Three details below:

Partial reprint
Good Fences Make Exasperated Neighbors
By Bruce Adams
Buffalo Spree, August 6, 2018

It turns out that social media might be ideal place for confronting antisocial behavior, when all else fails.

Earlier this year, Buffalo artist
Chuck Tingley was commissioned by Anne McIntosh and Nicole Casell to paint a mural on the side of their just-opened Hamburg wine bar, Alchemy. The objective of the bar is to make fine wines and beers accessible and affordable. Tingley’s art is equally accessible—and widely admired by the public—so it’s a good match. The mural depicts a woman from the shoulders up, wearing a head wreath of grapes.  Geometric shapes float on top of a silhouetted vine motif. It’s hard to describe; you just have to see it.
But you’d better hurry.

The details:

A John and Mary’s (J&M) sub shop franchise is located next door to Alchemy. From the sub shop parking lot, there’s a drop to a narrow walkway in front of the mural. McIntosh and Casell sought and received approval for the mural from the village Architectural Review Committee. That may not have been necessary, but they wanted public input and community involvement.

What they got was community uproar. Shortly after the Tingley completed his work, J&M began setting posts for a six-foot privacy fence that will completely block the mural from public view. Social media exploded with news of the impending wall. There have been calls for a J&M boycott or a flash mob action, and pleas to reconsider the fence.

To be fair, while the J&M owner has chosen not to comment, it’s possible plans for the fence were in the works before the mural was started. It’s also possible that J&M has legitimate liability concerns about people standing on their property to view and photograph the mural, even potentially falling down the embankment.

Yeah, but…

McIntosh and Casell offered to pay for a more transparent fence, or even shrubbery. And if the fence was planned before the mural, why not tell the Alchemy owners about it when they saw Tingley painting? What kind of neighbor lets you paint a mural knowing they plan to cover it? And why would J&M want to cover it? Murals are springing up everywhere. After a short time, the novelty wears off, and they become landmarks that attract attention and customers—in this case to both businesses! If it’s a liability issue, there are alternatives, but reports of hostility on the part of the J&M owner suggest the reasons for the fence go deeper.

Photos and their arrangement 2018 Chuck LaChiusa
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