Buffalo Bike Tours’ public art tour offers fun, exercise, prizes, and social distancing all in one
Spring has finally sprung in Buffalo and with temperatures rising, you’re probably wanting to get some fresh air. Well, if you have a bike and a phone, there’s a new option for you: The Public Art Loop.
The Public Art Loop celebrates our city’s most beloved public art pieces with dozens of photo-worthy moments. From wild abstractions and massive celebrations of color to comic book-style paintings and graffiti art, this tour is a fun ride through our open-air museum. Best yet, it’s free.
Buffalo Bike Tours has teamed up Niagara River Greenway to bring their shared missions to life through Bike There, Buffalo!, a series of self guided bike tours promoting outdoor recreation while safely social distancing. All you have to do is fill out a short form and you’ll be e-mailed the route using the Ride With GPS app. This week’s tour is an especially engaging one – with plenty of opportunities for selfies.
So today we’re bringing you 7 of our favorite murals you’ll see on the Public Art Loop. Full disclosure: I am owner of Buffalo Bike Tours, which leads food tours and history tours of Buffalo by bike – check out our full lineup here.
Tour of The Public Art Loop:
Stop 1: Greetings From Buffalo Mural
Artist Casey Milbrand’s “Greetings from Buffalo, NY” was an instant hit when he created it in 2016. It’s become one of the city’s most frequently photographed locales. Inspired by photo-friendly murals in other cities, Milbrand raised $6,500 in crowdfunding to make his project come to fruition. Depicted is a postcard-like message often found in souvenir shops, with a Buffalo popping out of the picture, who appears to be on its way to our next stop.
Stop 2: Freedom Wall
The Freedom Wall is an epic series of 28 murals of civil rights leaders in American history, past and present. Located at the entrance to the Michigan Street African-American Heritage Corridor, this massive work honors Buffalo’s proud African American heritage, with tributes to local notables such as Arthur Eve, Mary Talbert, and William Wells Brown – as well as national figures with ties to Buffalo. The list of subjects was generated from public meetings with community members, and was created by four Buffalo-based artists: John Baker, Julia Bottoms-Douglas, Chuck Tingley, and Edreys Wajed. Stop by and learn more about these important stories with the short biographies located next to each panel.
Stop 3: Betsy Casañas Mural
Betsy Casañas’s mural at 585 Niagara Street is another Albright Knox commission and it celebrates the Lower West Side’s Latinx and Hispanic heritage. Casañas, a Philadelphia artist heavily involved in the Philadelphia Mural Movement, created her design based on a series of community conversations. She also enlisted those community members in helping paint the piece, which was done in a paint-by-numbers process. Get up close and you’ll see the mural wasn’t actually painted on the building – rather it was created on parachute cloth, assembled in sections, and later glued to the exterior.
Stop 4: Lip Service
This fun mural is a recent collaboration between the upscale men’s shop BUREAU and Klub Weimar. Tucked away on Elmwood Avenue, the Lip Service mural evokes strong nods to Andy Warhol and pop art. Said the owners, “Since the inception of BUREAU, we have made it a point to showcase art, pop culture, music, and film as a way of honoring our icons and inspirations. “Lip Service” is a thank you to the Elmwood Village, a community that has allowed our little shop to grow over the past 5 years.”
Stop 5: Keep Buffalo A Secret
Last summer, artist Ian de Beer painted the “Keep Buffalo A Secret” mural in a collaborative effort with the Oxford Pennant shop and Jake The Sign Guy. The mural went up in less than 12 hours and caused some amount of controversy in some circles. Referencing slogans in other cities, such as “Keep Portland Weird”, the light-hearted mural is intended as a piece of reverse psychology. Stop by and take a quick photo (just don’t tell anyone).
Stop 6: Metamorphosis #5
Tavar Zawacki’s Metamorphosis #5 is a giant explosion of color and hard to miss when you’re passing on Main Street. While abstract in nature, the mural has Zawacki’s signature motif: the upward arrow. Zawacki got his start as a graffiti artist, using the tag “ABOVE” and soon graduated to other forms of street art. The piece is meant as a means of metamorphosis and upwards transformation of Buffalo’s nearby neighborhoods.
Stop 7: Wildflowers for Buffalo
Louise Jones’ Wildflowers For Buffalo is the largest of Buffalo’s public art, measuring a mammoth 80 feet tall by 160 feet wide. The L.A.-based artist incorporated floral motifs pulled from the Buffalo landscape and is based on conversations with horticulturists and her own research. On the mural you’ll find local species such as red clover, coneflower, burdock, chicory, and more – brightening up our downtown core with images from our natural environment.
Follow along with our GPS for more info:
Sounds fun – how does it work?
To access the Public Art Loop, all you need to do is sign up your email to download the program.
This post was originally published in 2020 and has been updated.