You Got This! That uplifting affirmation is the title of Chris Piontkowski’s first local mural. Buffalo native Chris Piontkowski, who goes by Chris P., studied media arts and animation at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. “After I graduated, I realized that getting a job in that field was tricky,” said Chris P. He began working at Hyatt’s All Things Creative in Buffalo, an art supply store and a great fit as Chris continued to pursue his art. Although he has been creating art for many years, he only began painting outdoor murals two years ago.
“Murals were something I wanted to get into for the longest time,” shared Chris P. “I constantly brought it up to other artists, looking for an opportunity.” In 2019, his opportunity would finally arrive thanks to the inaugural Hertel Alley Street Art Festival in North Buffalo. “That was the culmination,” said Chris P. “It was organized by local artists as well as artists from out-of-town and paid for by the artists. The idea was to donate our time to create a fun event.” “It was a blast!” recalled Chris P. “Painting my first mural went as well as I could have hoped,” It was a Saturday and Sunday event, but I was only able to work on my mural Saturday night and Sunday. I had been practicing for a while, but I still learned a lot. For example, a wall is very textured, so I have transitioned from using a roller to using a spray gun when prepping a wall for a mural. It gets into the wall’s texture very well and provides a good base coat. It was a lot of fun!” The theme of Chris’ first mural? A sunset with flowers!
Chris, a camping enthusiast and former Boy Scout, loves nature but is quick to clarify that he would not consider himself a “nature nut.” He began incorporating many florals into his work because “they are organic and can never be painted the same way twice.” He gravitates towards pollinator friendly flowers which grow well locally, with the exception of his Hertel Alley Hawaii-themed plumerias. “The saying is that if the bees go, they are taking us with them,” said Chris P. “And I love honey! I can’t say my belief is any more complicated than that.” Fun and brightly colored, Chris’s mural mix of pop art and street art, floral imagery and geometric elements, quickly caught on, and requests began coming in. Then, COVID-19 arrived. “COVID changed so much, honestly,” he said. “Hyatt’s was able to remain open, and in that unique situation, I was left in charge of the entire building. This was a huge opportunity for me and has led to great things. During 2020, I was only able to do two murals, but they were massive.”
One of these two massive murals is in Williamsville and the other is in Medina, his furthest mural from Buffalo so far. “My Williamsville mural is a 1,700 square foot piece near the Williamsville Village Hall, and my Medina mural is 17 feet high and 70 feet long off of Main Street in the heart of Medina,” he said. These murals, two of the seven Chris has created so far, are both open to the public, although he has done some private pieces, as well. His point in creating these mammoth masterpieces? To make people smile. “I do hope people support their local pollinators and flowers, but my main goal is just to brighten people’s day,” Chris P. explains. “If they see my murals and smile, my job is done. That is a good thing and is important to me.”