|Many North Union Street storefronts will receive a facelift as artwork by several local artists will “decorate” their windows. Local volunteers will wash windows and hang artwork on April 21st and 22nd. The goal of the project, called the North Union Street Art Walk, was conceived in an effort to beautify vacant and occupied buildings located on North Union Street in order to make our main street more attractive, welcoming and vibrant.
Olean General Hospital, the Cattaraugus County Arts Council in concert with AmeriCorps sponsored by Catt Co Youth Bureau, and the City of Olean united to design and implement this project. Funding was provided by the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation, which completely subsidized this project. Karen Buchheit, Executive Director of the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation noted, "The Community Foundation is extremely pleased to fund this collaborative project. It is yet another visible sign of the positive efforts being made to revitalize our city center and make the area a very enjoyable place to walk, visit shops and dine at restaurants. Creating a vibrant, walkable area is an important part of creating an environment for local economic development to flourish." Karen Fohl, Olean General Hospital VP for Institutional Advancement added, "We are so grateful to the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation for their strategic thinking as well as for their commitment to this project."
“This effort compliments the Walkable Olean Project” noted Olean Community Development Program Coordinator, Mary George. “We wanted to do something creative and innovative in partnership with the North Union Street merchants to spruce up these vacant, underutilized buildings and attract more people to our downtown area” added George.
The Cattaraugus County Arts Council identified and engaged a variety of generous local artists who allowed their artwork to be reproduced and installed in storefront windows to create an actual “Art Walk”. Soon the Council will develop a brochure mapping the artists and the location of each piece. “We believe this “Art Walk” will be discovered and enjoyed by many who may venture downtown more frequently”, said Tina Hastings, Executive Director of the Arts Council. She shared that the Arts Council is very excited to be a vital part of this exciting project and is very her appreciative of the artists who so generously donated their art. “We are also grateful for the assistance provided by our CCAC AmeriCorps member, Ardyth VanScoy, who has assisted with bringing this project to completion and as well as installation assistance from St. Bonaventure Intern, Nicholas Coyne”, added Hastings.
Mayor William Aiello could not be happier. "I feel like this is an amazing gift to the community," said Mayor Aiello. "It is nice to see our downtown enhanced in this special way giving new life and vitality to the city. Perhaps this will parlay into an even greater gift by drawing interest in new development of vacant buildings and by helping local industry to recruit and retain new talent - you never know," added Aiello.