New Lax-Inspired Mural in Olean, New York, His Hometown

(photographs © Marcia Kelly)

A major work of art honoring Robert Lax has been unveiled in his hometown of Olean, New York.

Painted on the walls of the Library & Liberal Arts Center on the Olean campus of Jamestown Community College, murals inspired by Lax’s circus poems now grace the spot where his father, Siggie, took him to watch the circus pull into town when he was a boy. (Note the railroad tracks in the foreground in the picture above.)

According to the Olean Times-Herald, more than 25 artists and volunteers helped “world-renowned muralist” Meg Saligman with the installation, and another 1,000 community members participated in “various summer paint day events.”

“Titled ‘Vantage Point: Our Valley of the Sun,’ the mural’s name is inspired by poet Robert Lax’s famous work, ‘Circus of the Sun,'” the newspaper reports. The project was supported by several local and regional organizations and is meant to celebrate those who live and work in the area. (One of Lax’s childhood homes once stood just steps away.)

Saligman–who grew up in Olean and went on to paint some of the largest murals in the United States–combined her own research with interviews with community members to come up with the murals’ designs. It was the discovery of the poems of Olean’s homegrown poet, however, that brought everything together.

To read more about the Olean mural, click here. To see more of Seligman’s work, visit her website:

[This post appeared first in the Robert Lax Newsletter. To sign up for this free bimonthly (or so) mailing, click here and enter your email address on the left-hand side of the page.]

The Circus of Creation: Composer Gwyneth Walker’s Tribute to Robert Lax’s Circus of the Sun

Marcia Kelly, Robert Lax’s niece and literary executor, told me an interesting story recently.  A few years ago, she and her husband Jack (who live in NY) received a message from a composer named Gwyneth Walker, telling them the composition she had written based on Lax’s Circus of the Sun would be performed in Sarasota, FL, in five days.  She had forgotten to let them know…but they happened to be in Florida and had plans to be in Sarasota that weekend already.  When they went to the concert, who should walk in but several members of the Cristiani family who lived nearby!  (Sarasota has long been the winter home for many circus people.)

The concert was fabulous, Marcia says, with a local celebrity dressed as a master of ceremonies reading the spoken parts and a sold-out crowd.

For more about the concert, including a review, Walker’s thoughts on her composition (called “The Circus of Creation”) and PDFs of both the orchestration and the spoken parts, go to Walker’s website.