“Niagara 1979”: Artpark’s Latest Mission

“The Painted Parking Lot” is set to make a comeback with latest Kickstarter.

LEWISTON, N.Y.- Artpark and Company, an not-for-profit organization, started a Kickstarter in order to fund the recreation of Gene Davis’ piece titled Niagara 1979, known as The Painted Parking Lot by locals. At the time, the piece was The Guinness Book of World Record’s largest painting, covering over 43,000 square feet. Today, the painting is hidden underneath the standard parking lot black top. The current campaign wants to reinstate the painting by May.

Artpark first opened in July 1974. Since then, it has become a state park, concert venue, and a place for the arts. With over 150 acres of land, the organization also holds youth camps and family programs regularly. An estimated 250,000 people attend the park every summer.

In 1979, Davis painted the parking lot with multi-colored, pastel stripes in true ‘70s fashion. A well-known artist, his estate is held by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The stripes were over 60,000 ft. long.

Images provided by the Artpark Archival Collection at the Burchfield Penney Art Center

“What makes this artwork so amazing is the fact that it was created in a non-traditional space: a parking lot,” said Michael J. Beam, curator of exhibitions and special projects for the Castellani Art Museum in the Kickstarter video.  “It offers viewers and visitors the opportunity to experience art in a completely different perspective.”

Many local residents and business owners remember the painting and associate their childhood along with it. Michael Broderick, the owner of Orange Cat Coffee Company, speaks fondly about his memories with his family seeing the painting in person.

“Seeing the painted parking lot was the first spark of excitement, the first and last memory of the day,” said Broderick in the promotional video. “I’m so excited to hear that ArtPark is trying to bring back this project.”

Tanis Winslow, Director of Visual Arts & Family Programs for Artpark and Company, says it is a project that the community always talks about.

“It’s something we hear from the community frequently as one of the projects they would like to see come back,” Winslow said. “Every person I’ve talked to is excited about it.”

As an non-for-profit organization, Artpark and Company is asking the community to help fund the project to reinstall the colorful painting. Pledgers, depending on the amount, will receive a gift for helping out. Gifts include general admission to the Tuesday’s In the Park concert series, pledger’s name along the line of one of the bright stripes in the painting, and more.

The project is listed as an all or nothing project, meaning the painting will not be reinstalled if the Kickstarter does not reach the full amount of $20,000 by April 9. Winslow is hopeful that the project will meet it’s goal.

“I believe our community will come together and donate to this project,” said Tanis Winslow, Director of Visual Arts & Family Programs for Artpark and Company. “My only concern is that people don’t realize they have to donate to make it happen.”

To donate, visit the Kickstarter website or send a check addressed to Artpark and Company at 450 S Fourth St., Lewiston, NY 14092.

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