Artists Announced for 2019 Downtown is Pawsome Public Art Project press release

ALBANY, NY - The Downtown Albany Business Improvement District (BID) announces a new “litter” of Downtown is Pawsome sculptures for this summer, continuing the popular public art project based on Albany’s famous canine landmark Nipper. Ten new pieces will be colorfully customized by local artists and installed at locations throughout downtown Albany from July 2019 to August 2020, moving to indoor locations for the winter months.

The artists participating in the new Downtown is Pawsome exhibit are:

A beloved mixed-breed terrier residing in Bristol, England in the late 1800s, Nipper was immortalized in the 1898 oil painting “His Master’s Voice” by Francis Barraud. He became an instantly recognizable mascot for the RCA Recording Company throughout the 20th century, perhaps most familiar to locals via the 28-foot, four-ton statue that keeps guard over the Capital City from a perch atop the former RCA distribution warehouse at the corner of Broadway and Tivoli Street. Celebrating an Albany landmark, a famous American musical icon, and the opening of the Olde English Downtown Dog Park, the BID debuted an initial run of 20 Downtown is Pawsome sculptures in the summer of 2017. The Nipper image resonated strongly with both artists and the public; nearly 90 applications were received for the project’s open call for artists, and the sculptures quickly became local attractions and popular selfie spots for residents and visitors alike. Fifteen of the pieces were auctioned at the end of the initial installation in September 2018, resulting in more than $60,000 raised to benefit future public art projects, the artists, and the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society. The homes these one-of-a-kind statues went to included RCA Records, Mayor Kathy Sheehan, and the family of the late Harris Sanders, the Capital Region architect that brought the iconic Nipper to the Albany skyline more than 60 years ago

As Albany’s newest neighborhood continues to experience transformational projects, these Placemaking projects in Downtown aim to attract visitors while also serving to engage residents and grow the existing sense of community. A report, Americans Speak Out About The Arts in 2018, published by Americans for the Arts, showed that the positive impact of public art is multifaceted, with benefits including social cohesion and a sense of belonging.

"The incredible success of the initial Downtown is Pawsome project really speaks to the talent of our artistic community and the authenticity of the Nipper image as a true Albany landmark," said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. "The creativity of these projects the BID brings to Downtown add a vibrancy to our Capital City, and present our City and its heritage in a creative way that adds to the list of things that makes Downtown a destination. I was excited to 'adopt' Jessica Mansmith's Dutch history-inspired sculpture in 2018, and look forward to seeing this next round of painted pups adorning our streets again this summer."

“We are thrilled to expand the reach of this immensely popular Placemaking project that strengthens the bond that people have with Downtown. We know that art improves the image people have of their community, and this talented group of regional artists will undoubtedly bring joy and pops of bright color to our streets,” said Georgette Steffens, Executive Director of the Downtown Albany BID. “While each artist will bring something new and exciting to these sculptures, the exhibit as a whole establishes a heightened sense of place-esteem and pride in our Capital City and historic Downtown. Downtown is Pawsome celebrates the unique culture of Albany and helps bring the work of some of the area’s best mixed media artists to new audiences.”

In 2005, the outdoor Placemaking program (formerly “Sculpture in the Streets”) was established to connect Downtown employees, residents and visitors with the places they share by reinventing public spaces with various art forms. From regional creators to world renowned artists like Seward Johnson and George Rickey, the exhibits have attracted thousands annually. Similar past projects included the installation of customized pianos as part of Luke Jerram’s internationally touring Play Me, I’m Yours series in 2014 and giant Dutch clogs celebrating Albany’s history in 2012, all enhanced by the Capital Region’s local art community. The new Downtown is Pawsome sculpture locations will be announced in the coming weeks and walking tour maps will be made available on the BID’s website at downtownalbany.org.

Since 1996, the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District (BID) has worked to restore, promote and maintain the character and vitality of downtown Albany and improve the quality of life and overall image of downtown for those who work in, live in and visit New York’s Capital City. The BID is a private, not-for profit 501(c) (3) organization. For more information about Downtown Albany BID please visit downtownalbany.org or call 518.465.2143.