“The Niagara County By The Numbers: An Interactive Mural Trail” is intended to be a multi-site art project – put together by local artists – for residents and visitors to the area to find and appreciate.
It’s not, however, typical pieces of art.
Trail followers will be able to find each mural through GPS coordinates shown on plaques installed at each site. There are 12 murals, all-together, around the county, one in each prominent city, town and village and numbered according to when the municipality came into existence.
Mural admirers can also participate in the fun by chalking up the outlines of shapes and letters on the mural. It’s meant to be interactive and spread creativity to everyone who visits, said Mike Weber, the project creator.
Weber will be painting one of the murals stationed in Cambria. Weber has a degree in graphic design, but considers himself self-taught.
When asked what he kind of art he likes, Weber replied, “I don’t know what I like, the things I do are more commercial based. I do signs, logos, edit videos, build models, make maps, that kind of thing.”
One of the projects that brought some recognition for Weber was “Connect-the-Dots” of the Lockport Locks which he made in conjunction with his website, mikeweberarts.com.
“It was always intended to be a product, but then because I had over 10,000 dots in the puzzle, I was eligible and was awarded a Guinness World Record,” he said. “The record has since been beaten.”
Weber said he starts off with a problem and then tries to solve it.
“I saw a problem with tourism and I tried to fix it with my website. I tried to get the word out about different tourist sites and I did that with the puzzles,” he said. “There’s not enough tourism going to the eastern part of the county, I’m trying to solve that with the murals.”
“At the end of the day, it’s never about me. It’s always about solving the problem, helping someone or making things better in some way.”
Another artist that Weber recruited is Amira Moore.
A 19-year-old graduate of Niagara Falls High School, Moore said she’s looking forward to creating her second mural in the city.
“My first mural is on Main Street in Niagara Falls where the Niagara Falls Heritage Center is. There’s a lot of murals down there,” Moore said. “It’s called ‘Women Supporting Woman.’ I have a girl with her hands out and different kinds of culture and women around her.”
Moore considers herself a contemporary artist and sees her art, largely digital, online and created on her iPad, commenting on events in the news about issues ranging from Black Lives Matter and feminism.
“I’ve actually had a lot of people message me about how I inspired them, which is pretty cool for me,” she said.
Through uploading onto Instagram, Moore said she’s found an audience full of people from places she’s never been. She also follows other artists and thinks that the social media platform TikTok can be pretty fun.
“A lot of younger Black woman like my art, and some Black men, too,” she said. “I think my art mostly focuses on issues like the Black culture with Black art, which is influenced by them.”
“I’m very excited and honored to do this mural,” Moore said.
Moore’s Instagram handle is @artbymircatsmind.
In the background there’s always someone who takes care of an art project and while Natalie Brown does not consider herself an artist, she certainly knows a lot of them.
“I know Mike through different vending events that I host like the Oliver Street Art Festival and the holiday market I put together,” Brown said. “He would usually be there as a vendor and sell his dot-to-dot puzzle.”
Brown said Weber’s idea for a color-by-number mural struck her as a great one and when he contacted her to help, she was very willing.
“He knew I was pretty involved with the Niagara County art community and I work at the Carnegie Art Center and he was just wondering if I was interested in helping him,” she said. “It became a small committee between he and myself, and I just helped with certain aspects of it.”
Her duties included helping with fundraising and applying for grants including a Decentralized grant from Art Services Inc. which was awarded to the tune of $1,500, as well as for the Gregg Lewis Foundation which will will also be supporting the project.
Brown said she’s always loved art and loves working with artists, but when asked if she was also an artist, she quickly denied the charge.
“Not really!” she said. “I haven’t drawn art in a long time. I’m kind of more of a facilitator, organizer. I like to help support artists and help support the arts in general, but I wouldn’t call myself an artist.”
“I think (the project) is a great way to connect the whole county,” she concluded. “I think it’ll encourage tourism. It’s COVID friendly, you can still got to a mural and color it in. It makes people be creative, but you don’t need an art background. It’s family friendly. It checks all the boxes to make it an acceptable art program and it should benefit the whole county.”