Parkside: A collision of Advocacy and Art

“Welcome to Parkside” the sign reads. Not unlike most neighborhood signs, but look a little closer and you start to get a hint of the rich history the neighborhood enjoys—a community designed by Frederick Law Olmsted listed on the national register of historic places. Yup, Olmsted—the one responsible for Buffalo’s world class park system decided to design a neighborhood before he left town. You can bet Parkside is eternally grateful for that.

Known for its community engagement, the Darwin Martin House, and its proximity to Olmsted’s Delaware Park and the Buffalo Zoo, the community has benefited from Buffalo’s resurgence. It is without question that Parkside is home to some of the City’s best architecture and landscape design. But a hub for local creatives? That doesn’t necessarily come first to mind.

That, however, is all quickly changing for the North Buffalo neighborhood.

In recent years the Parkside Community Association (the neighborhood’s non-profit known as the “PCA”) has started leveraging its rich arts and cultural assets as it continues advocating for the community. In 2015 Parkside became one of the first neighborhoods to implement crosswalk art as both a celebration of creativity and guerrilla traffic calming measures as it fought for the redesign of Parkside Avenue and the 198. The goal: create a more walkable and pedestrian friendly Parkside Avenue.

Crosswalk at Crescent & Robie painted in 2015 by local resident-artist Justin Dahl in honor of Parkside resident and community leader Ruth Lampe. Ruth passed away in 2015.

2017 also saw the PCA revamp its Summer Arts Camp by including new local artists and programing which fosters creativity and learning for the City’s youth. In the process, it is employing dozens of teens through the Mayor’s Summer Youth Program—giving many of them their first opportunity for a real job and meaningful work experience.

FragranceandJuan playing at Parkside Garden Tour 

Now the PCA is taking aim at helping the underutilized pedestrian HUB along Parkside Avenue. The former entry to the Buffalo Zoo at Parkside and Russell Avenue recently got executive Director Amber Small thinking, “Neighbors, business owners and tourists deserve better than just locked gates. There must be something we can do to use this space to benefit the community,” she remarked. And that’s when the PCA came up with an idea: an open-air Artisan Market featuring local artists, craftsmen and businesses. Sure, Buffalo has its fair share of art festivals, but you are hard pressed to find reoccurring open-air art markets. Parkside has been working for months to change that.

This past Thursday the City of Buffalo gave Parkside the green light on the first annual Parkside Artisans Market series and a permit to close the first block of Russell Avenue. The market will take place one Sunday a month in August, September, and October and will predominantly feature resident artisans and other high quality local businesses.

Student in 2017 Parkside Summer Art Camp

“We are excited to spotlight some of the tremendous artists here in Western New York. Parkside has a rich heritage of cultural assets and our local artists are no exception. Many from right here in the neighborhood,” said Small. “Add in that we are strengthening a pedestrian hub, continuing our traffic calming advocacy and supporting local businesses, and the market was a natural evolution of our work in the community,” she added.

Parkside Artisan Market Dates and Times are:

August 20, 2017, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
September 17, 2017, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
October 22, 2017, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM


Polar bear print crosswalk at the corner of Woodward & Humboldt

The market is free to the public. With plans to continue the market into next year, and hopefully increasing the frequency, PCA is looking for artists and vendors who may be interested. Further details about the event and vendor qualifications can be found here. PCA hopes to add public art and murals to further support the neighborhood market this fall.