Albright-Knox Public Art Initiative Blankets Buffalo Buildings in Color
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Buffalo, NY – In the coming week, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s Public Art Initiative will complete the installation of a monumental multi-site artwork by Brooklyn-based artist Amanda Browder (American, born 1976). The work, titled Spectral Locus, will be temporarily installed on the facades of three prominent buildings in Buffalo—the former Richmond Methodist Episcopal Church at 467 Richmond Avenue, the Eckhardt Building at 950 Broadway, and the Albright-Knox’s Clifton Hall.
Browder is a textile and installation artist who, with the help of hundreds of volunteers, uses donated fabric to create massive quilts, resulting in striking alterations to large architectural structures. Since April, she has hosted public sewing days throughout the region to help produce the piece. Local craftspeople, artists, and novices alike have joined in the production. "Working with something hands-on offers community members a sense of ownership of the piece, and something to be proud of as a maker and a citizen of this wonderful town,” said Browder.
“We are thrilled to contribute these joyful works of public art to our Buffalo neighborhoods,” said Janne Sirén, Peggy Pierce Elfvin Director of the Albright-Knox. “Our community has come together to gather large amounts of fabric, people have volunteered their time to stitch these colorful quilts, and now, for four weeks, we will see the stunning results of their collaborative creative work. Projects such as this enable everyone to be artists. They bring our community together in a meaningful way and help revitalize neighborhoods across our beloved Buffalo.”
With the Albright-Knox as a central point, the three locations represent a civic conversation that links the East and West sides of Buffalo. In a time of construction and redevelopment, all three sites will see changes in the coming years as Buffalo continues its renaissance.
“This unique public art project is the latest installation of the Albright-Knox’s Public Art Initiative that will be enjoyed by Erie County residents as well as visitors to our region. I want to thank Peggy Pierce Elfvin Director Sirén and Curator of Public Art Aaron Ott for their vision and commitment throughout this Initiative and for helping to make public art accessible,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz.
Installation Site 1:
The first installation site will be the Eckhardt Building at 950 Broadway. Built in 1940 by noted local builders Metzger Bros. Construction, its architectural style has been recently classified as Art Moderne, an evolution of Art Deco and the Bauhaus movements of the 1920s and 1930s.
The Eckhardt family owned this corner and operated general and department stores here since the late 1880s. The last two tenants moved out of the building in 2004. The first floor was reconfigured for the regional offices of the New York State Department of Labor. The second floor was reconfigured by a neighborhood-based education and job-training program, 78 Restoration Corporation, for offices and classrooms.
“We are honored to be a part of the art installation and the Public Art Initiative set up by the Albright-Knox,” said Kayleigh Martin, Marketing Director for Cedarland Development. “We believe the Public Art Initiative is a great way to get the community involved.”
Installation Site 2:
The second installation site will be at the former Richmond Methodist Episcopal Church, built from 1885 to 1891. The space has undergone construction this summer in advance of adaptive reuse as a visual and performing arts center. Currently referred to as the future Rosanna Elizabeth Visual and Performing Arts Center (REVPAC), the building will also house the Benjaman Contemporary Gallery, a business incubator, and residential apartments.
The Richmond Ferry Church Project is a social enterprise that will ultimately offer collaborative art spaces, a contemporary gallery, a resource center for arts-related organizations or individuals, and a catering kitchen. Its mission is to advance artistic production, multicultural educational opportunities, and the development of small culinary enterprises.
"We are thrilled to partner with the Albright-Knox and honored to host Ms. Browder's amazing work,” said Rachel Heckl, owner and developer of the Richmond Ferry Church. “This unifying piece represents the beginning of our vibrant transformation into a multipurpose arts campus on Buffalo’s emerging West Side. It reminds us to work together and dares us to dream and do big things."
Installation Site 3:
The third installation site will be Clifton Hall at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, which was constructed in 1920 as the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences. Donated to the Albright-Knox in 1927 by Colonel Charles Clifton, the Elmwood Avenue building became the Albright Art School in 1929, and two wings were added in 1938 and 1945. Ownership of Clifton Hall was transferred to the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1959, and back to the museum in 1988. Clifton Hall currently houses the AK Innovation Lab, offices, and the G. Robert Strauss, Jr. Memorial Library.
Born in Missoula, Montana in 1976, Amanda Browder received an MFA/MA from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, producing large-scale fabric installations for building exteriors and other public sites.
Other recent AK Public Art Initiative projects include Alice Mizrachi’s Dream Keepersmural at the Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology; Roberley Bell’s Locus Amoenusinstallation at the Tifft Nature Preserve; Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn’s muralNoodle in the Northern Lights at Shea’s 710 Theatre; Kaarina Kaikkonen’s installationWe Share A Dream, currently on view at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport; Jenny Kendler’s Milkweed Dispersal Balloons and ReWilding New York (Community Seed Stations), a two-fold work that took place over the summer of 2015; Shayne Dark’s 2015 exhibition Natural Conditions and residency at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens; Jaume Plensa’s Silent Poets, on view through October 2016 at Canalside; Casey Riordan's Shark Girl; Tape Art’s Buffalo Caverns, a massive, temporary mural made with low-adhesive drawing tape on the north wall of the Central Library branch of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library; a billboard- and sticker-based iteration of Matthew Hoffman’s You Are Beautiful project, made possible in part through a partnership with Lamar Advertising; and Charles Clough’s collaboratively produced Hamburg Arena Painting, which is installed in the newly constructed wing of the Hamburg Public Library. The Public Art Initiative has also distributed 30,000 art kits to students throughout Erie County.
The Public Art Initiative is supported by the County of Erie and the City of Buffalo. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.