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"Dance Everyday" mural
537 East Delavan Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14208

By Shantell Martin
Commissioned by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Public Art Initiative

May 13, 2018 Photos

Acrylic and spray paint   ...   Details, from left to right:

Partial reprint

Martin’s CAI residency concludes with joyful mural

UB Now, September 14, 2020

Head east along East Delavan Avenue in Buffalo, just past Fillmore Avenue, and you can’t help but notice the sprawling line-drawing, whimsical faces peering out from the long white wall. Created by British-born artist Shantell Martin, the mural has attracted attention in this urban neighborhood and infused some life into the long-closed Houdaille Industries plant at 537 E. Delavan.

This permanent mural is the culmination of Martin’s spring residency with UB’s Creative Arts Initiative, a pioneering program that explores creative expression in innovative ways that reach beyond studios and performance spaces and into all aspects of the university and Western New York community. The mural was created in collaboration with the Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s Public Art Initiative. Martin’s solo exhibition, “Someday We Can,” is on view at the Albright-Knox through June 25.

Titled “Dance Everyday,” the mural is signature Martin — a black line-drawing on a white background, sprinkled with positive phrases like “no one else you could be” and “peace.” She calls the artwork “light and refreshing.” “Large and impactful, but also very playful.” And “inspiring.”

Its simplicity — “I draw lines” and others can, too, Martin says — makes it accessible to audiences.

Although she doesn’t have a plan when she creates her artwork — “The pen knows where it is going and I just follow,” she says — Martin says that before starting work on the Buffalo mural she wanted to “educate herself” regarding the site and the audience for the piece. She met with members of local churches and neighbors so that the mural would be “more of a conversation” and “more relevant” to the community. She had scouted the East Side earlier this spring with UB graduate students, looking for the right site.

She finished the mural in about six hours over two days earlier this month — a forecast of impending storms spurring her on. Staff from the Albright-Knox, who had painted the original brown brick wall white in preparation for Martin, applied a protective coating to the finished mural to preserve it from graffiti, the sun and, of course, Western New York’s ever-changing weather.

While Martin worked, drivers passing the scene pulled their cars over to watch. Neighbors walked up. “Is that the British woman?” a woman asked a member of the Albright-Knox staff.

Martin says she’s only created a handful of murals before the Buffalo project, and at 220 feet by 25 feet, “Dance Everyday” is her largest drawing yet. She says she’s thankful to have been able to meet many members of the community, who have been “receptive and responsive” to her work.

Photos and their arrangement 2018 Chuck LaChiusa
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