NIAGARA FALLS – A public art project in the works for Niagara County might bring a decorative wine barrel to a place of interest near you.
“Barrel Through Niagara” will give artists a chance to show off their stuff while dressing up the community and tapping into the region’s growing wine scene.
Organizers from HYDRO Niagara Falls, a business networking group, expect to launch the project this summer, with the barrels on display by the summer of 2015.
It is meant to inspire student artists and offer tourists another means of exploring the county, said Jeff Deming, HYDRO co-founder and general manager of The Giacomo in downtown Niagara Falls.
“As a hotelier, my guests come in here, and they say, ‘OK, I’ve seen Niagara Falls. Now what do I do?’ ” he said.
Once the barrels are in place in spots across the county, visitors to the area can use them as another way to see what’s around, Deming said.
Plans call for QR – or Quick Response – codes to be put on the barrels, which allow them to be scanned on a smartphone. Tourists may be given some type of souvenir for visiting a certain number of the barrels, he said.
It’s modeled after the “Herd About Buffalo” project that brought dozens of decorated buffalo statutes to the Buffalo area.
HYDRO – which stands for Happening Youthful Driven Reinventing Our Niagara Falls – started in early 2012 to help build community pride in the Falls. Its events include weekly drum circles in the summer, as well as a walking and running club.
The group has formed a steering committee for the project and is looking to raise money through memberships and attract more volunteers to help, said HYDRO co-founder Kristin Meyer.
Sponsors of the project will be able to help the artists’ work get done all the way up to being able to take one of the barrels home.
It is also preparing to issue its call for artists, Meyer said.
Two art teachers at Lewiston-Porter High School – Brett Coppins and Cindy Sanchez – are developing “prototype” barrels to be used as examples for other artists and to show the public the type of work that can be done with the project.
“It has been a playful project that has provided a necessary relief to pressures of our current educational system,” Coppins said in an email. “We are creating art for art’s sake. The students are excited to play a part in the public art project.”