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Artists transform a wall on Main Street's 500 block

There are quite a few bare walls in Buffalo. Some are new and shiny, some are old and crumbling, and others are just right. Just right for what? Just right for street art, and a group of local artists, photographers Max Collins and Erica Eichelkraut, and painters Chuck Tingley and Matthew “Ogre” Grote are claiming those walls as canvas for their spectacular mix media murals. Last Friday these artists—who have each developed their own unique street art styles independently—came together to create a mural, live in front of an audience on the side of the Main (St)udios building on the 500 block of Main Street. As the mural—a mix of giant wheat-pasted photographs, bold spray-painted faces, and colorful paintings of Buffalo landmarks like the Electric Tower and the golden-domed M&T Center—unfolded before the eyes of the spectators, the grim gravel alleyway transformed from abandoned dog park to work of art.

Ask any one of them what a blank brick wall means to them and they’ll tell you that it’s the “canvas of the 21st century,” a place where unexpected color bursts from bland corporate structures and expression blooms over night on formerly unnoticed surfaces. “We’re putting the neighborhood on the walls,” said Collins as he slathered a glob of wheat paste over a massive slice of a photograph he took of a passerby earlier that day. “We’re just trying to fuse all three of our styles together and work a little bit of Buffalo into it too,” Tingley added. “Freestyle Faces of Main Street” was made possible through public donations and the artists are hoping that the success of this mural will mean more opportunities to colorize the infinite blank walls of Buffalo. For a taste of some more public street art on the 500 block of Main Street, check out the first ever Chalkfest, August 11 and 12.

Photos by Erica Eichelkraut

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