The Artpark LegacY

The late Senator Earl W. Brydges, a Western New York Politician, Majority Leader of the Senate, and Artpark's namesake was the visionary for Artpark.  Following years of planning Arpark opened in the summer of 1974.

 

From its beginnings Artpark has been a cultural gathering place accessible to everyone. Visitors experience world class talent night after night.  "It's magical here." Rose Gellman, Board Member, Artpark.

 

Many awards and accolades later, Artpark celebrated its 40th Anniversary Season in 2013. The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and nearly 50 visual artists returned to include their work to help recreate opening night just as it was the 1970s.

 

Artpark... Where art and nature thrive together!

 


Many thanks to WBBZ-TV and Laurie Lisowski-Frey for the creation, editing and use of this video

 
 
 

 Earl William Brydges (EWB) was born in Niagara Falls, NY on May 25, 1905. He is most well known as a member of the New York State Senate from 1949 to 1972 representing Niagara and Orleans Counties and during that time the Majority Leader of the Senate from 1966 to 1972. EWB was engrained in Western New York (WNY) throughout his life graduating from Niagara University and the University at Buffalo law school and serving on Niagara University's board of trustees and the Board of Education in Wilson, New York for many years.

 

My Grandfather spent significant time in the Senate on educational policy and mental health issues to improve services Statewide for the developmentally disabled and special education students especially from K-12. In fact, he served as Chairman of the Senate Education Committee and  Senate Special Committee on Mental Health. Throughout the 1960s and early 70s, Granpa worked closely with Governor Nelson Rockefeller on policy development and legislation for educational issues and WNY economic development. He helped create the State University of New York (SUNY) system, develop new school state aid funding formulas, and reorganize the New York City mass transit system.

 

The Senator was a strong advocate for expanding WNY tourism and supported casino gambling in Niagara Falls in the late 1960s and early 70s. In 1972, he successfully passed legislation to legalize casino gaming in New York State through an amendment to the State constitution. Unfortunately, the legislation was ultimately turned down through the legislature and State's voters. That same year as Senate Majority Leader, Brydges became Acting Governor of New York for a period of time when Rockefeller and Lt. Gov. Malcolm Wilson were both out of the Country. Brydges did not seek reelection to the Senate and retired on Jan. 1, 1973.

 

During his brief retirement he was the prime motivator in the creation of Artpark, a theater and concert center that continues to attract thousands of visitors for live shows, visual arts, and family events. Granpa's desire to establish Artpark stemmed from his love for Broadway musicals - he was particularly fond of the Man from La Mancha. He was also a huge fan of reading poetry and incorporated some quotes into his public speeches (Granpa could quote verbatim many of the Yukon-themed poems from British/Canadian poet Robert Service). At the dedication ceremony in 1974, this all encompassing arts center was appropriately named in his honor. The main public library in Niagara Falls was also named after him shortly before his death from cancer in Lewiston on March 30, 1975; his funeral was attended by then Vice President Rockefeller.

 



 

 EWB - a great man being such a regular and friendly guy!


Contributed by: 

Jason Brydges, 

Artpark & Company Board Member and 

Grandson of Earl W. Brydges