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Behind the internationalism of 'Beyond/In Western New York'

Pasquette_Copenhague recadrée

French tightrope walker Didier Pasquette on a recent walk. Photo courtesy of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

In an event aimed at drawing attention toward the city-wide art exhibition "Beyond/In Western New York" organizers announced recently that French tightrope walker Didier Pasquette has planned a walk across the two towers of the Liberty Building in downtown Buffalo.

In my story on the walk today, I noted that the exhibition, for the first time in its history, will include several artists from outside the region. Here's a bit about their concerns about the regional/international makeup of the exhibition, which didn't make it into today's story:

Beyond/In Western New York‘ organizers, clearly excited about the prospect of hosting internationally recognized artists, stressed that the exhibition will remain resolutely focused on the work of regional artists. The internationally famous artists' work is being added not to overshadow the work of regional artists, they say, but to foster dialogue between the art of the region and the world at large.

"In my mind, it's very much a natural evolution," Grachos said. "But we wanted to be very careful that the internationalism doesn't consume what we think is so beautiful about this project, which is that it really embraces a region that in itself has some great diversity."

As for the local and regional artists included in the show, said Hallwalls curator John Massier, who has been involved in the project since it launched in its current version in 2005, said the quality of the submissions was the most impressive he's seen.

"It was the strongest set of submissions we got and the strongest set of studio visits, and overall, with the greatest diversity and depth we've had so far. It's kind of great. There were a lot of submissions from people that weren't even around in 2006 or 2007," Massier said.

Grachos stressed that "Beyond/In Western New York," far from some recently established biennial shows in other cities that have drawn the ire of some critics for their lack of focus, is a unique, grassroots approach to the large-scale regional art show.

"We did not want the outside world or the regional world to think this was just another attempt at doing an international biennial," Grachos said. "We really want the heart and soul of this project to be a real look at our region, and I think that's something that this project has done very well. And we're very proud of it."

--Colin Dabkowski
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