January 24, 2014

Griffis Sculpture Park Rejuvenation is No Surprise

Mushroom Sculpture in the Mill Valley Road Site

Griffis Sculpture Park in Ashford Hollow, New York was the dream of Larry Griffis, Jr over 50 years ago. His youngest son Simon P. Griffis was the director of the park for over 10 years, and carried on the legacy. The granddaughter of Larry Griffis Jr., Nila Griffis Lampan is now the director of the foundation.  Larry was always an artist, according to the foundation records, and he made it his mission to create a haven for imagination and play for his fellow neighbors to enjoy. His artistic devotion came later in life after his global travels. Griffis Sculpture park was the canvas for his artistic endeavors. Today, under his granddaughter's tutelage, Griffis Sculpture park has been rejuvenated and continues to meet the artistic mission, by providing visual arts, performing arts and education for the community.

The Park

The Griffis Sculpture Park rejuvenation began by additional maintenance to the trails, grounds and sculptures. The park is located on 450 acres in Ashford Hollow, which is 8 miles outside of Ellicottville, New York. The park is one of America's largest and oldest sculpture parks, featuring over 250 large scale steel and other media materials. The sculptures are built and designed by Larry Griffis Jr and other international artists. The unique feature is that these sculptures are displayed outdoors in settings that enhance the vibe and message the the artist created in the piece.The sculpture park is actually split into two sections, the Rohr Hill Road Site and Mill Valley Road
Map is from, Jan 2014
Site. The Rohr Hill area has towering sculptures set in fields and woods just off the road. You can park in a designated area on Rohr Hill and walk down to the sculptures and joins trails in the woods with more sculptures. Many of the large sculptures are visible from the road, but the cool part is seeing the details up close. Many of the sculptures in this areas are large and made of steel / iron. There are ducks in flight, giraffes and other objects / animals to peak your imagination.

The Mill Valley Road Site features both a smooth walk area, as well miles of trails through a variety of terrain. You can park by the entrance gate, which is in the lower portion of the park. There are many flat trails that lead to the trailheads that lead uphill to the Rohr Hill road area. This area has a variety of sculptures and themes. The bath is located here in a large pond.

Either park is accessible for the amount of time that you want to spend. You can spend all day or just stop by for a quick walk. In front of the Mill Valley Road site, there is a picnic area with tables and a vast meadow, perfect of a blanket and picnic basket. Just remember to take out what you brought in.


The rejuvenation also included resurrecting past festivals. Part of the tradition of for many years was the Griffis Sculpture Park Summer Music Festival. In August of 2013, the park again utilized the large pavilion at the top of the hill to revitalize the tradition of the annual summer music festival. The 2013 festival had diverse band performances, poetry readings, artist installations, crafts and art appreciation. Back in 1991, 10,000 Maniacs band performed on the very same stage. This festival is part of many new activities at the park, which show the splendor of the art and hillsides year round.

"Night Lights" picture from, Jan 2014
Some of the new events for the foundation include the "Moonlight Snowshoe Tour" and the "Night Lights". In February, there is the annual "Moonlight Snowshoe Tour", which allows access to the sculptures in a winter scene as well as learning about the history behind them from the guide. For $50 per person, you get snowshoe rental; some of the best local chili, cookies and snacks; a moonlight snowshoe tour of the Sculpture Park; and live music afterward.
Finally, in the November another new fund raising event is the annual "Night Lights", where visitors can hike the trails at night with the sculptures wonderfully illuminated. The sculpture and trails are glowing with vibrant colors, which creates an entirely different setting at the part and interpretations of the artistic sculptures. The event runs in the evenings and is usually $10 for adults and $5 for kids 7 to 12 years of age.

The Mission

Sculptures at the picnic area in the Mill Road Site
The park is a non-profit and part of the Ashford Hollow Foundation. The granddaughter of Larry Griffis Jr., Nila Griffis Lampan is the director of the foundation. The mission is "The mission of the Ashford Hollow Foundation is to promote the visual and performing arts as well as construct a dynamic relationship between the arts and education in Western New York to better its young people and the greater community." The Ashford Hollow Foundation oversees the Griffis Sculpture Park and The Essex Arts Center, which carry out the mission while hosting fund raising events to continue the legacy established by Larry Grirfis Jr. Nila's rejuvenations of the park appears to have meet the mission of her grandfather and maybe exceeded in it many ways. Creativity appears to run in the family!

No Surprise for This Hidden Treasure

The park is a great find and should be preserved for generations to come. The foundation and countless volunteers have exceeded the mission and now have revitalized activities and the beauty of the park. The Essex Arts Center and the Sculpture Park provide cultural education, visual arts as well as performing arts to western New York and the region. The park is a great value during normal hours, only $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and students and kids 12 and under are free. The park is normally open May 1 through October 31, as well as the special events in February and November. The foundation operates through the help of countless volunteers. It is no surprise that the volunteers and the family have kept the mission strong after all of these years. Once you visit the rejuvenated park, you will see why they invested time, creativity, labor and love  into this tranquil sculpture park in Ashford Hollow, New York. Thank you!

The foundation's website is, which post the list of activities at the Griffist Sculpture Park, the Essex Arts Center, maps, hours, and more about the history and legacy of Larry Griffis Jr. The site also provides information on how you can get involved in preserving the history and culture through volunteering, donations and more.

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