10 Places to See Unique Public Art Installations in WNY

public art: shark girl
Shark Girl / Photo courtesy of the Albright-Knox

So, we can all agree at this point that Buffalo’s mural scene is pretty solid, right? Chances are you’ve seen our street art guides by now, which list out all of the incredible murals you can find in different neighborhoods around the city. But what about all of the other public art installations in Western New York?

Of course we love Buffalo’s iconic street art, but thanks to our city’s comprehensive public art initiatives and some extraordinary talent from both local and visiting national artists, Western New York has way more to offer than just murals. Whether you have five minutes or five hours to explore, use our guide below to check out some of Buffalo’s best public art installations. (Murals not included!)

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1. Shark Girl – Canalside Buffalo 

Artist: Casey Riordan Millard 

Buffalo’s favorite girl is always out, rain or shine (or snow), at her little corner of Canalside. Created by artist Casey Riordan Millard, “Shark Girl” actually made her public first appearance in Cincinnati, where she spent time posing for pictures at a public park before finding her home here in Buffalo back in 2014.

 

public art: Martin House
The Space Between / Photo x Emily Malkowski

2. The Space Between – Frank Lloyd Wright Martin House Complex 

Artist: Jun Kaneko 

The result of a collaboration between the Martin House and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, The Space Between is a new installation that features seven ceramic sculptures created by Japanese artist Jun Kaneko. The exhibit is free and open to the public through October 2021, so be sure to stop by and see how beautiful these massive works of art look through all four seasons.

 

public art: tanglewood
Tanglewood / Photo x Emily Malkowski

3. Tanglewood – Bassett Park

Artist: Shayne Dark

Created by Canadian Artist Shayne Dark, Tanglewood brings a bright pop of color to the wide open space of Basset Park. The piece is a part of the Albright-Knox’s Public Art Initiative, and was previously on display at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens before making its way out to Amherst.

 

public art: Balancing Act
Balancing Act / Photo courtesy of the Albright-Knox

4. Balancing Act – Five Points Bakery 

Artist: Aakash Nihalani

Over on the West Side is Aakash Nihalani’s free-standing sculpture that’s meant to “playfully disrupt our perception of space.” Looking like a two-dimensional creation straight out of an animated cartoon, Balancing Act is always on display near Five Points Bakery.

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public art: look and see
look and see / Photo courtesy of the Albright-Knox

5. look and see – Hotel Henry

Artist: Jim Hodges

look and see, a gorgeous stainless steel sculpture created by artist Jim Hodges, was always intended to be accessible to the public. The piece, which weighs nine tons (!!) aims to challenge viewer perceptions with its cut-out, mirrored surfaces, and was originally installed at The Battery in Manhattan before shipping off to Buffalo in 2006 where it now resides at Hotel Henry.

 

public art: walk through
Walk Through / Photo courtesy of the Albright-Knox

6. Walk Through – 87 Carlton Street

Artist: Beverly Pepper

All public art is interactive by design, but there aren’t many installations that you can literally walk right through. Beverly Pepper’s Walk Through, which is on display downtown near Roswell Park, invites viewers to fully immerse themselves within the sculpture and consider how the surrounding environment plays a role in their viewing experience.

 

public art: Stainless Steel, Aluminum, Monochrome I, Built to Live Anywhere, at Home Here
Stainless Steel, Aluminum, Monochrome I, Built to Live Anywhere, at Home Here / Photo courtesy of the Albright-Knox

7. Public art outside of the Albright-Knox 

Artists: Nancy Rubin, Jaume Plensa, Do Ho Suh, Jason Middlebrook, Andy Goldsworthy, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Alan Sonfist

If you’ve driven down Elmwood Ave past the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, you’re probably already well aware that the museum’s outdoor space has housed some truly incredible works of public art in years past. It’s a little displaced at the moment due to the museum being under construction, but you still get a peek at the various outdoor sculptures— including one made entirely of aluminum canoes suspended in the air by wires— outside of the gallery, or take a fully virtual tour here instead.

 

public art: Griffis Sculpture Park
Griffis Sculpture Park / Photo courtesy of Griffis Sculpture Park

8. Griffis Sculpture Park – East Otto, NY

If you’re up for a bit of a drive, venture out to Griffis Sculpture Park, one of America’s largest and oldest sculpture parks located just outside of Ellicottville. The park features over 250 larger than life sculptures made by Larry Griffis, Jr. and other international artists, each one immersed within trees, trails, and even ponds to create a unique viewing experience where nature and art collide.

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Outer Harbor / Photo x Step Out Buffalo

9. Kinetic Wind Sculptures at Wilkeson Pointe Park

Artist: Whitaker Studios

Created in 2013 as a part of the waterfront’s ongoing revitalization, these four incredibly unique wind sculptures are situated right on the water at Wilkeson Pointe Park. They’re a gorgeous addition to an already beautiful waterfront— getting a view of them during a summer sunset is an absolute must!

 

public art: BUFFALO
BUFFALO Letters / Photo courtesy of Instagram: @andreaklm87

10. Metal BUFFALO Letters – Hertel Ave

One of the most recent additions to Hertel’s robust outdoor gallery of street art is a pretty simple cluster of metal letters— but depending on how you approach them, you might see a different message. Joel Feroleto and Andrew Chambers worked together to stagger the letters perfectly so that from the West, they simply read “BFLO,” but continue walking and you’ll see other letters reveal themselves to spell out “BUFFALO” in its entirety.

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