The Art & Industry Project

In 2015, Erie Arts & Culture introduced the Art & Industry Artist Residency Project, a collaboration of area manufacturers, faculty and students from Erie County Technical School and Erie Arts & Culture Teaching Artists. Art & Industry is designed to create public art that both celebrates our industrial history and educates us on the future of industry in Erie.

The project is one part pipeline development, sharing trends and career benefits within the sector and reinforcing the soft and hard skills students needed to excel. It’s also a history project, showcasing the stories and products created here. Finally, it’s a creative process, leading students through the design, fabrication and installation of public art. The Art & Industry project will produce a minimum of three new public art pieces located in our historic industrial corridor along and around 12th Street. The new works of art will help residents and visitors understand and take pride in this important aspect of who we are as a people and many of the products and industrial processes that we have and will create here.

The first Art & Industry mural was installed in June on the east side of the Erie Playhouse’s Rehearsal Hall at 1158 East 12th Street, the building that once housed Coyne Laundry. Entitled Setting the Stage for Erie’s Future, this student-led design focuses on how industry fueled the development of the City and the connection to our arts sector. Teaching artists, Tom Ferraro and Ed Grout led the project. A second piece is being installed at the vacant lot at 13th and Holland across from Lovell Place, owned by Rick Griffith Properties.  This sculpture, entitled Fruits of Labor, is focused on the role of labor in transforming our society from agriculture to industrialism. Artists Tom Ferraro, Ed Grout, Ron Bayuzick, Barbara Crone and Kathe Umlauf, as well as ECTS faculty and our manufacturing partners are helping students fabricate and install this piece.  A third site has been identified near the corner of 12th and Greengarden for a third work of art. 

A Renaissance for the Industrial Titan

By Emily Engott

Where the shores of Presque Isle kiss the glistening azure waters of Lake Erie, you will find the city once dubbed an “Industrial Titan.” Not far from the docks of Presque Isle Bay is a historic industrial corridor that traces Erie’s 12th Street. Once home to burgeoning manufacturing companies, the 12th Street gateway to the city still maintains trace elements of its industrial integrity.

In May of 1919, National Geographic brandished Erie industry as being among the finest in the U.S., even likening it to that of Chicago. “Erie is host to some five hundred manufacturing establishments,” said John Oliver LaGorce in his article. “It has the largest horseshoe factory and the largest pipe-organ plant in the world, and makes more baby carriages, gas mantles, and clothes-wringers than any other city.”

Nearly a century has passed since Erie was last featured in an issue of National Geographic, but that does not mean the city has lost its luster of yore. In fact, it would seem that the Gem City has instead embarked on a renaissance of both art and industry. The industrial buildings that were once the epicenter of Erie’s gritty core are undergoing a complete makeover. They have been revitalized and transformed into distinctive microbreweries, upscale urban housing and most recently ideal sites for public art installations.

Now the permanent residence to a mural entitled, “Setting the Stage for Erie’s Future,” Erie will soon be emblazoned with two subsequent installations. All three works are part of Erie Arts & Culture’s, “Art & Industry Project,” which leverages Erie’s industrially-rooted identity to celebrate the past and challenges residents of all generations to consider what the city can become.......CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL FEATURE ARTICLE


Press Conference Announcing the Project

Interview with David Davis, Gene Davis Sales & Service

Installation Begins for "Fruits of Labor" Sculpture

Ribbon Cutting Celebrates Manufacturing Heritage




The mission of Erie Arts & Culture is to strengthen the vibrancy and vitality of the Erie Region and enrich the lives of our people through the advancement of arts and culture.
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