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Artist scatters leaves of hope

The artist hopes blocks will inspire people to think. or give them a better outlook on life.

By Don Glynn
Niagara Gazette
     Eleni Sarraf, a tourist from Istanbul, Turkey, took a second look Friday at the colorful leaf painted on the 3 and a half by 4 and a half inch wooden block propped on a bench near the Prospect Park Observation Tower.
     Intrigued by the tiny painting, she picked up the block and discovered a message on the back: "You have just turned over a New Leaf.
     " Sarraf, somewhat hesitant to take it, finally decided – correctly – that it has been left there for a purpose – for anyone to pick up. She left the park without saying much about her find.
     That leaf and similar ones that might be found around Prospect Park, the Three Sister Islands off Goat Island, and maybe the Wintergarden, among other spots, are the handiwork of Carol Ann Newsome, 40, a Cincinnati artist visiting in the Buffalo-Niagara area this weekend.
     She is trying to convey a couple of messages to people about art and life in general.


James Neiss/Niagara Gazette
INSPIRATIONAL: Cincinnati artist Carol Ann Newsome holds a wooden block with a leaf painted on the front and the message, "You have just turned over a New Leaf," on the back.
     Why Niagara Falls for scattering the unique leaves?
     "I actually prefer to stay away from art meccas," said Newsome, who hopes the small block – about the size of an index card – will inspire people to think about art, autumn, freedom or maybe just a better outlook on their lives.
     Even if people just look at the leaf, without taking the painting, it’s OK with Newsome. "After all, art is individual interpretation," said Newsome, who has a master’s in fine arts from the University of Cincinnati. "So, if some folks Take away from it, that’s their right," she said.
     But people are picking them up because she continually hears from those who respond to her Website; the ’ address is printed on the back of the block. For some, the idea of turning over a new leaf has
affected their own lives. "One guy who was at a low point in his career said finding the leaf made him think about another course to pursue. And things actually worked out for him," Newsome said.
     "It’s her unique way of bringing art to the general population," said Ann Pappalardo of Cincinnati, who joined her friend for the trip to Buffalo.
     While her New Leaf project is inexpensive, it is labor-intensive, Newsome said. She has spent about $500 for wood to create 3,800 blocks, which she said should last several more. years.
     A native of Pittsburgh, Newsome also runs a DUI driver intervention program.
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