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Nippers Pop Up In Albany

A public art project based on Albany’s famous canine resident and local landmark Nipper the Dog has taken off.

Albany Department of General Services workers on Wednesday began installing the first statue in the area's latest public art display, celebrating one of the defining features of the city skyline.

In 2005, the outdoor placemaking program (formerly “Sculpture in the Streets”) was established to connect downtown employees, residents and visitors with the places they share by reinventing public spaces with art.

Wednesday, the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District and the city marked the official installation of the first 10 three-foot-tall fiberglass "Nipper" sculptures for the "Downtown is Pawsome" exhibit.

BID executive director Georgette Steffens: "We had such an overwhelming response that we had 82 artists applications to paint our 10 dogs so, we decided to add another 10, doubling our project size and we'll have 20 dogs in total by mid-July."

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Jessica Mansmith is among the regional artists who joined in colorfully customizing the dog statues. This is her treatment.

Jessica Mansmith is among the regional artists who joined in colorfully customizing the dog statues.  "As an artist, I'm always looking for ways to show my work in the area, so I look for different calls for submissions from different arts organizations, and I happened to see something, probably on social media, from the Downtown Albany BID that they were doing this wonderful placemaking exhibit using the Nipper dog. So I went ahead and submitted a design and waited to hear back."

The “Nipper Building” at 991 Broadway.
Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
The larger-than-life pooch sits atop the old RCA building at 991 Broadway.

Steffens notes locals are quite familiar with Nipper, who, at 28 feet tall, looms over the warehouse district from his perch atop the roof of the old RCA building on Broadway near Tivioli Street. "We're really trying to identify things that make Albany unique, and that resonates with our resonates and with tourists, and we believe the Nipper dog definitely does that. I drive on 787 and first thing my little girls do is they scream 'Huck Finn's Playland,' and then the second thing they do is scream 'The Dog!' It resonates with Albany residents for sure."

And it resonates with artists as well. Mansmith loved the concept and worked up a unique treatment for her carefully crafted statue.  "I probably underestimated how many hours it would take. My design, I think, compared to some of the other wonderful pieces that I saw, is relatively simple. And I did certainly have it all sketched out. But it took probably 30 to 40 hours of painting because I was being very deliberate about not making any mistakes, because blue on white, it's very easy to make a mistake that's easy to see. So I wanted to be very careful and have some nice, clean lines on the sculpture."

The project gets its official launch with the "Downtown is Pawsome Garden Party" on Friday at Tricentennial Park, at Broadway and Columbia Street.  (Rain location: Albany City Hall Rotunda).

Tickets for the Garden Party may be purchased at www.downtownalbany.org/pawsomegardenparty.

Sculpture NameArtistLocation
“Een grote delft blauwe doggo”

Jessica Mansmith


Albany Heritage Area Visitors Center  |
25 Quackenbush Square
“Second Chances”Bob AndersonWallenburg Park entrance | N. Pearl between Clinton Avenue & Orange Street
“Mark”Sarah Bassett & Hannah McGrathTricentennial Park | Broadway between Steuben & Columbia Streets
“Scooby Doodle”Upside CollectiveHudson River Way Pedestrian Bridge | Broadway & Maiden Lane
“Steampunk Nipper”Elaine Wilson80 State Street
“Bright Side”Melanie Lucia ClarkeAlbany Capital Center | Eagle & Howard Streets
“Almos”Diane CubitS. Pearl & Howard Streets
“City Lines”Mitchell BiernackiBroadway, between Beaver Street & Hudson Avenue
“New Neighbor Ned”Tim FealeyMadison Avenue, between Grand Street & Trinity Place
“Tulip Festival”Myers Middle SchoolAlbany Coliseum | 153 S. Pearl Street

Ten more sculptures will hit the streets in early July, featuring artwork by:

More information, including walking tour maps, will be available on the BID’s website at downtownalbany.org/downtownispawsome on Friday, June 16th.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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