John Brent -
Table of Contents
..................... Public Art - Table of
Public Initiative on Buffalo Architecture & History .................. Albright-Knox
Public Initiative - Official website
John Brent Mural
The Buffalo Zoo, Crandall Road, Buffalo, NY
Artist: James Cooper III
|September 2020 photos
Left trees: Amherst and Parkside
Brent-designed entrance ... Three details below:
John Brent Mural ... Five details below:
John Brent photograph as a young man
"The cast iron [Zoo] gates, numbers three and four, were created in 1935 and anchored in concrete piers with Onondaga limestone veneers. The structures were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013."
Note sketches of the Michigan Avenue YMCA (pictured below]
Artist James Cooper III
Photo by Tom Loonan ... Photo source: Albright-Knox: James Cooper III (online Sept. 2020)
Buffalo Artist James Cooper III Creates New Mural Honoring John E. Brent
Albright-Knox, August 20, 2020
Buffalo, NY – The Albright-Knox’s Public Art Initiative recently installed a new mural by Buffalo-based artist James Cooper III, depicting John E. Brent, Buffalo’s first African American architect, at the Buffalo Zoo.
Cooper produces colorful and evocative abstract works for traditional and public settings. Most recognizably in our landscape, he worked with William Cooper (no relation) to produce two large fifty-foot by twenty-foot murals installed at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus near the intersection of High Street and Michigan Avenue. Cooper has also worked with John Baker and other local artists to produce murals for the Buffalo Sabres and the City of Buffalo.
For this project, Cooper collaborated with Christine Parker, a local historian and authority on the life and legacy of John Brent. Parker curated an exhibition at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Through These Gates: Buffalo’s First African American Architect, John E. Brent (October 9, 2015–March 27, 2016), detailing Brent’s contributions to our region. In addition to his architectural work, Brent was an active leader in the African American community, serving as the first President of the Buffalo Branch of the NAACP.
Among Brent’s most significant architectural designs is the Michigan Avenue branch of the Y.M.C.A. (1928), which was his first large commission. He posthumously received recognition in Buffalo for the gates and landscape architecture he produced for the Buffalo Zoological Gardens. The cast iron gates, numbers three and four, were created in 1935 and anchored in concrete piers with Onondaga limestone veneers. The structures were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.
Cooper has utilized the scholarship and materials provided by Parker to create a mural celebrating Brent’s accomplishments, with the finished work installed at the Buffalo Zoo adjacent to Brent’s iron gates.
Mural will celebrate the life and work of John E. Brent, Buffalo’s First African American Architect
Buffalo Rising, July 10, 2020
Buffalo’s history is chock full of celebrated architects. But every once in a while a new name surfaces that makes us stop and think. Take, for example, Buffalo’s First African American Architect – John E. Brent (1889–1962). Aside from breaking down racial barriers via his time served as first President of the Buffalo Branch of the NAACP, Brent also managed to design a very impressive building – the Michigan Avenue branch of the Y.M.C.A. (1928), which was unfortunately demolished (1977), along with numerous other significant structures along Michigan Avenue.
But it was his work at the Buffalo Zoological Gardens that garnered him the most accolades and recognition as an architect.
While many Buffalonians are aware of The Zoo’s iconic cast iron gates (located at the Entrance Court) and landscape architecture, most do not know that it was Brent who was the creator. It was in 1935 that these gates first became a focal feature of the grounds. Then, in 2013 the gates officially made it into the annals of National Register of Historic Places. Today they are a tangible testament for all to see and appreciate.
In order to acknowledge the life and work of Brent, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is working with Buffalo-based artist James Cooper III to create a new mural at The Zoo that will shine a light on the esteemed architect. In researched the life of Brent, Cooper came across Christine Parker who is a historian and authority on the life and legacy of John Brent. The two collaborated on the scope of the mural, which will ultimately be positioned next to Brent’s beloved iron gates.
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