Niagara Gazette

March 17, 2014

New art project will place decorative barrels around Niagara County

By Kaley Lynch
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — A new public art project will most likely be barreling into Niagara County in spring 2015.

HYDRO Niagara is organizing the project, which will allow local artists and art students to reconstruct and beautify wine barrels. The barrels will then be displayed at points of interest throughout the region.

The project, dubbed “Barrel Through Niagara,” will be comparable to the “Herd About Buffalo” project, which placed dozens of uniquely decorated Buffalo sculptures throughout the area, said Jeff Deming, co-founder of HYDRO.

“We’re looking to promote hometown pride for Niagara County,” Deming said.

The barrels will be distributed around the falls, as well as other historically significant areas including Lockport, Olcott, Youngstown, and Lewiston.

Deming is also general manager of The Giacomo hotel in downtown Niagara Falls. He says that he is frequently asked by guests about other things to do in Niagara County.

“They’re always asking me what’s next after they see the falls,” Deming said. “We’d like to use these barrels as kind of a tourism scavenger hunt throughout the region, maybe offering a prize for people who see them all.”

Deming says the committee in charge of “Barrel Though Niagara” is also looking into smartphone apps which would allow visitors to scan Quick Response codes on the barrels, giving them information about a location.

While barrels might have a place in Niagara Falls folklore from stories of daredevils using them to brave the falls, they have a new context with the rise of the Niagara Wine Trail.

Several barrels have already been donated by local wineries.

“We really want to incorporate the agritourism aspect of Niagara County, by helping promote the local wineries,” Deming said.

Students in Brett Coppins and Cindy Sanchez’s art classes at Lewiston-Porter high school are crafting the “prototype barrels” for the project.

Other high school art classes can be involved in the project too, Michelle Blackley, interim director of marketing/communications manager for Niagara USA said. Blackley is also on the committee for “Barrel Through Niagara.”

“Schools that are interested in being involved are invited if they reach out to us,” she said. “It’s going to be a really great project.”

While the project is still in its organizational phase, Deming says they hope to have barrels distributed to artists by January 2015, with finished products being due by May 2015.

The application process will probably happen in fall 2014, Deming said.

“We’re looking for professional artists to work on these as well,” Deming said. “It will be a great opportunity for high school art students to have their work displayed, especially if big name artists also come on board.”

Contact reporter Kaley Lynch at 439-9222 ext. 6245 or tweet to @Lynchie17