BY BILL WOLCOTT
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Lockport native Peter Boes, who did not become interested in art until after serving in the Army, earned honors in three categories at the Veterans Creative Arts Festival this week.
There were 64 veterans who participated in the semi-annual program at Freedom Hall at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Buffalo. Boes, a 4-year Army veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, is an outpatient at the VA.
”I consider myself a layman of sorts in many areas of life,” wrote Boes, 38, who lives on Akron Street and works for Capital Management in Buffalo. “As an artist, I have a proclivity to sculpture, art appreciation and writing. My mission statement in the community is to inspire others to create.”
Boes (which rhymes with goes) experiments with metallic materials and uses everyday objects. He likes to create aesthetically pleasing sculpture from discarded items. Boes found a muffler on the road and turned it into “Shhh...Quiet” which was entered in the festival.
“A lot of my work with sculpture expresses simplicity in design coupled with balance,” Boes said. “When there is balance, stability follows. Allowing for the freestanding of sculpture and the ability to interact with my work is my main goal in creating something unique.”
Boes, 38, graduated from Lockport High School in 1993 and earned a liberal arts degree from Niagara County Community College. He enlisted in the Army and served as a communications soldier in the First Armored Division.
The program helped Boes discover he had talent and a knack for creating art work, while providing him with more confidence. This year Boes submitted two poems and had entries in the mixed media competition.
Boes has entered exhibits twice to showcase his work. The Veterans Creative Arts Festival will have a summer show on Aug. 15.
The Buffalo VA joined the nationwide Department of Veterans Affairs program four years ago with Ralph B. Sirianni, a member of the Vietnam Veterans Art Group, named the coordinator.
Sirianni, a Buffalo native who lives in the Town of Tonawanda, is a Marine veteran who served from 1968 to 1972.
Sirianni, who began working at the VA in 1977, holds degrees from Buffalo State and the University at Buffalo. He has been honored by the state Senate and has received the Mayor’s Award for art that serves the city of Buffalo. He has citations from the Buffalo Police Detectives, ARTVOICE and Leatherneck Magazine for Marines.
Some of the participants in the Creative Festival are World War II veterans.
“We try to get them involved in art,” Sirianni said. “We keep options as vast as we can. Hopefully we find something we can start with, an avenue to get away from negativity in their lives.”
Sirianni works primarily with people dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse, leading them in hands-on art, music and other creative projects.
According to a story by Grace Lazzara for the UB Alumni, Sirianni learned to take control of the horrible things that happened in Vietnam—using them in a way that has helped him express himself and has helped him connect with hospital patients.
Tuesday’s competition included 53 art categories, ranging from oil painting to leather work. There are 120 categories pertaining to all aspects of music, dance, drama and creative writing. The creative writing division is a more recent addition to the competition and includes original works in poetry, essay, short story and personal experience writing.
Local winning entries will be submitted to the national selection committee which chooses first, second and third place winners among all of the entries. Select winners are invited to attend the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival from Oct. 21-27 in Reno, Nev.