In just a few months, the middle block in the three-block strip between Niagara Falls and the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort will look a little different. Spectra Venue Management and Empire State Development, who are jointly managing the development of Old Falls Street, were looking for an artist to erect a public sculpture in that spot. They contacted Buffalo’s Albright–Knox Art Gallery in search of the perfect artist for the job, and the Albright–Knox sent them to Jesse Walp.
Walp, an assistant professor of interior design at Villa Maria College, has spent the last year planning and designing his sculpture, which he hopes to have completed and in place by July 4, 2018.
“My intention for the piece is to convey the movement, the power, and the experience of the Falls with the swirling rings and ‘water droplets,'” said Walp. “Now that I’ve officially begun the process by purchasing the materials needed to create the piece, I’ll have to construct it pretty quickly.”
Walp plans to create the piece in the Art Shop where he spends his days teaching: right on Villa’s small, Buffalo, NY campus.
When the sculpture, which he expects to be 13 feet wide with a 10 foot arch that is about 3 inches deep and arms that are about 25 feet high, gets too big to work on inside, he’ll move it directly outside of the Art Shop and work on it there until it’s finished and ready to move to its permanent home in Niagara Falls.
Being chosen for this project is significant for Walp. “I’m honored to be the artist chosen for this project,” he said. “To make a piece that honors a wonder of the world is a pretty mind blowing opportunity and I am sure that has not set in yet. What makes this even better is that when my dad was young, he actually lived on Old Falls Street, very close to the placement of my piece. “
While the creation process is still in its very early stages, Walp says he’s received some encouraging feed back on the design itself. “Everyone has loved the design,” he said. “Including Mayor Paul Dyster.”
The sculpture, which is being paid for by New York State, is set to be a permanent display.