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What's With That Buffalo? WYSO Curious Meets A Downtown Dayton Icon

Community Voices producer Jim Kahle seeks out the origin story of the buffalo statue in front of K12 Gallery.
Jim Kahle
Community Voices producer Jim Kahle seeks out the origin story of the buffalo statue in front of K12 Gallery.

"I have been curious about the big buffalo statue that stand outside K12 Gallery in downtown Dayton," says WYSO listener Gwen Owen. "I looked at again this morning on my way in and thought, 'what is your deal, you're this big serious heavy looking buffalo statue...' and I feel like it must have a story. Where did that thing come from?"

For that answer I went to the K12 TEJAS  gallery at the corner of South Jefferson Street and South Patterson Boulevard and asked long time arts supporter and fearless leader of K12, Jerri Stanard, just how that buffalo came to be there.

"So that happened in 2015," says Stanard. According to Stanard, here was no preamble, no meeting where the board of directors got together and said they needed a buffalo. "Mark Parker drove up in the lot with a large Buffalo Bison on his truck, [laughs] and he said 'hey what do you think about putting this out front to see if you can sell it?' I’m like, yeah that would be cool, that would be a lot of fun."

I asked whether the buffalo has a name after being at K12 for four years.

"Well, he’s still for sale," replied Stanard.

I traced down the owner of the nameless buffalo, Mark Parker, proprietor of West Side Auto Salvage, and asked him how he came to own a 16 foot long, nine foot tall, five foot wide fiberglass buffalo.

"The buffalo originated from The Greene," says Parker. "They had them at different places there, and after the holidays, they put them in storage.  Then, what I was told was, somebody else bought The Greene and they didn’t want to put them up. So actually they were in the parking garage of The Greene. One day I was looking on Craigslist, and I called the guy. I went up there and ended up cutting a deal and I bought all ten animals. We didn’t think about coming out of the parking garage, but when we got to the end, it was so low we couldn’t get it out. So we had to unload it again. It took ten of us to unload it and put it on these wheels and roll it out of the garage then put it back on this flat bed tow truck and bring it  to where it is."

We will never know all the stories the Buffalo could tell about its journey from a Wisconsin studio specializing in oversized animals and fiberglass sculpture to its current, temporary home at K12 Gallery where it's become a downtown Dayton icon.

Jerri Stanard says there's no clear path for the buffalo's future, but if K12 were able to come up with the money to purchase him or somebody decided to donated him, "He would definitely get a name!"

Ohio was once the home to countless wild buffalo roaming the great plains. The huge herds are long gone, but  downtown Dayton, Ohio is at least a temporary home to one nameless fiberglass buffalo._

Copyright 2021 WYSO. To see more, visit WYSO.

Jim Kahle