By Brittany White
February, a time for love, laughter, and the Moonlight Snowshoe Tour at the Griffis Sculpture Park! The 11th annual snowshoe event will be held once again on February 19th, 2011 from 5 to 8pm. In addition to the snowshoe tour of the sculptures of the park, there will be live music provided by Gregg Juke and the Mighty No Stars. Lots of chili courtesy of Chef Thomas Kneeland of Balloons Restaurant and Night Club will be served all night. No need to worry about bringing your own snowshoes either as the City Garage Ski Shop will be providing shoes for all registered participants. All of this is included in a $50 per person registration fee which is required along with a reservation.
This event however is not only being held for a good time, it is also benefitting the Ashford Hollow Foundation and Griffis Park’s Art in Education program. The foundation is partnered with the Boys and Girls club of Buffalo to provide kids of all ages, as well as students and adults, the opportunity to learn about art at the Essex Art Center. Here the foundation provides a professional work space for kids to learn how to plasma cut and weld metal into art, just like many of the 250 sculptures in the park.
The Essex Art Center does live pouring demonstrations at local high schools where bronze statues are created for museums, parks, and schools. Kids can also take part in creating large scale sculptures for their own school! This provides personal involvement in making something that everyone in the community will see. Kids can work with professionals in a professional work environment to create these works of art, all the while building team spirit and learning how to problem solve within the team.
For many of these kids who are disadvantaged, programs like these teach social skills and incorporating other subjects into the lessons taught. The art created through these programs is finally displayed at one of the premier galleries where community members as well as the creators can come together to enjoy the art and the kids’ accomplishment. It is easy to say that the founder of the Griffis Sculpture Park, Larry Griffis, would be proud to see these programs helping kids’ to grow and learn about art to better their lives in the future. For more information about these programs you can contact the Ashford Hollow Foundation at Griffispark@aol.com, or visit the website www.griffispark.org.
Griffis Sculpture Park is America’s largest and oldest sculpture park containing around 250 sculptures from local, national, and international artists like Ken Payne, Frank Fontuzzi, Laura Feldberg, and Dwayne Hatchett. This park encompasses not only art but its unique style of art and nature being combined makes it one of a kind! You can even hike through the miles of trails at the park to see the artwork! With new items being added all the time it’s ok to go more than once!
This specific event got started with the visions of Simon Griffis, who has recently passed away however his missions have not disappeared. As an avid outdoorsman, Simon wanted people to experience the art in all sorts of conditions because winter is just as beautiful. In memory of Simon this snowshoe event has set a higher for itself. Nila Griffis, executive director of the Ashford Hollow Foundation, has set a goal of one hundred or more people to attend this event. The Moonlight Snowshoe Tour is very family oriented as many of the Griffis family are involved in planning and running the event, and with the loss of Simon his ideas will not be forgotten by the rest of the family who is continuing his legacy.
Nila Griffis expressed her desire to have more events throughout the 2011 and 2012 seasons to bring more people to see the beauty of the sculpture park, and this snowshoe event is only one thing to start achieving this goal. There are general admission fees for adults, seniors, students, and children under twelve are free! You can contact the park at (716)667-2808 with more questions about pricing and hours.
This place is a must see spot, only eight miles outside of Ellicottville, so if you cannot make the Moonlight Snowshoe Tour the park is open May 1st through October 31st. Nila Griffis states, “People come from all over to visit our park because it is unlike any other place. This is art that won’t set off an alarm if you touch it like a typical gallery,” and this idea is why the park is trying to find more events to host during the winter months. The foundation is trying to find ways to have more ‘highlight weekends’ where the park gets used more frequently; “We have to shut the facility down for the winter, but why?” Nila says, “ We are from Buffalo, and we know how to dress so as long as our visitors dress appropriately then we have no reason to stop hosting events at the Griffis Sculpture Park!.”
Throughout the Moonlight Snowshoe Tour, there will be about four different tours led through park. Mark Griffis will be leading a hike directed more for the avid and experienced who want to get a lengthier directed tour. Meanwhile Lisa Griffis will also be leading a lighter smoother walk which follows through the flatter parts of the park and the gate house. These tours will be shorter and more than one will be led through the night. While on these tours you will learn about the sculptures, their creators, who installed the pieces, and a bit of history. Spots for this exciting event however are limited, and reservations are required. You can call (716)667-2808 to reserve your spot!
By Brittany White