Wrocław, Poland–based artist Otecki (Wojciech Kołacz) aimed to reflect and celebrate the deep cultural diversity of Buffalo’s Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood in the design of Work and Play, a rich and vibrant tapestry populated by fantastical characters that are “part majesty and part mystery,” as the artist puts it.
Broadway-Fillmore has served as a stage for immigrant experiences, old and new, for nearly two hundred years. Beginning in the nineteenth century, the area was settled by many Polish families and their descendants; across the street is the Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle, established in 1895, which survives today as a Polish American social club and home to Torn Space Theater. A second Great Migration brought a number of new African American residents to the area in the mid-twentieth century, and recent decades have welcomed immigrants from Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and elsewhere. As Otecki’s mural suggests, it is this coming together of so many diverse citizens that makes the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood and the city of Buffalo at large such a meaningful place to work, play, and be in community with others.