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A closer look: 'Strip Appeal' at UB Anderson Gallery

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For too many years, the Central Park Plaza sat vacant and abandoned on the East Side, its shattered windows and crumbling bricks signals of the city’s larger misfortunes. But before crews finally knocked down its final building and left behind a lonely, empty lot, University at Buffalo architecture professors Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafailidis dreamed up a fantastic new plan for the long-neglected strip mall.

This close-up rendering of the retooled plaza, which is part of the UB Anderson Gallery’s imaginative and eye-opening exhibition “Strip Appeal: Reinventing the Strip Mall,” shows what an artist’s eye is capable of when applied to the city’s pressing problems of blight and decline. In Davidson and Rafailidis’ alternate universe, the plaza’s raw materials provide raw material for new construction projects, which in turn create bustling new center of urban activity where the derelict strip mall once stood. The exhibition argues convincingly that this Quixotic vision need not die a quiet death on a gallery wall –- it could actually become a reality.

Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafailidis: “Strip Appeal: Reinventing the Strip Mall,” through March 17 in the University at Buffalo Anderson Gallery, 1 Martha Jackson Place.

-–Colin Dabkowski

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