Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

A closer look: 'Fargo Dinner'


Colleen Stillwell, left, and Dennis Maher will host a joint art and food event on Saturday. Photo by Ginny Rose Stewart.

Title: "Fargo Dinner" // Artists: Dennis Maher and Colleen Stillwell // Saturday in The Fargo House // Sold out

If art can be food and food can be art  -- and at this moment in Buffalo's cultural and culinary evolution, it would be straight-up foolhardy to dispute the notion -- then this new collaboration between architect and artist Dennis Maher and pastry chef extraordinaire Colleen Stillwell has to rank as an ideal marriage. On Saturday, 50 guests will filter through Maher's Fargo House, an ever-evolving sculptural creation where he lives and works as they experience "nine different courses in nine different atmospheres."

According to curator Claire Schneider, formerly of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and now working independently in Buffalo and elsewhere, "the ingredients, presentation and taste of each course will resonate with the rooms within which each plate is set."

"The cycling of guests and culinary delights throughout the house is meant to echo the movements of objects and materials that are continually reorganized within Maher's own living space," she continued. "Participatnts will metaphorically 'consume' the house -- its walls, floors, ceilings, furnishings and objects."

No word yet on exactly what the house will taste like, but if the sold-out event goes well, we can expect to see more such fusions of art and food in the future.

--Colin Dabkowski

Stacey Robinson: 'Where is the black art at the Albright-Knox?'

On a Friday night in early April, Buffalo artist Stacey Robinson stood in a corner of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and gave this performance:


As you can hear from the chatter echoing through the gallery, very few people paid any attention to it.

In the brief performance, he raised many questions that have long preoccupied black artists about where they belong in the pantheon of mostly white, mostly male artists whose work makes up the majority of most museum collections.

In the talk, Robinson asked a series of increasingly agitated questions about what he sees as a lack of representation of black artists in the gallery's collection. He mentioned that the collection contains work by Carrie Mae Weems, Romare Bearden and Lorna Simpson (though curiously he did not mention the work of Kara Walker, whose mammoth temporary sculpture in Brooklyn is now the talk of the art world), but wondered aloud why the gallery's collection of work by black artists doesn't go deeper.

"Black art I'm looking for you, but I can't find you in the circulating collection at the Albright-Knox," Robinson says, addressing the work of black artists as if it is an actual person. "Am I the only one who cares that there is a lack of equal representation of Black art collected at the Albright-Knox?"

In Buffalo, one of the most segregated cities in the United States, it's rare to see a non-white face at an art opening. There are few Buffalo-based artists of color whose work is shown in local galleries. So the questions Robinson raises are relevant not only to the upper echelon of the local art world that the Albright-Knox and its collection represents, but the broader makeup of the city's creative community.

I'm posting his performance in hopes of kicking off a conversation about this stark reality. I've talked to Robinson at length about the performance and plan to follow up with someone from the Albright-Knox for a future column.

Please share your thoughts about Robinson's performance in the comment section.

-Colin Dabkowski

Filmmaker Nathan Peracciny releases new doc on Buffalo photographer Marshall Scheuttle

Local filmmaker Nate Peracciny has released a new short documentary about photographer Marshall Schuettle, whose work was featured in a solo exhibition in CEPA Gallery last summer.

In the film, which features many photographs from Schuettle's "Borderland" series, the artist talks about his inspiration and his process.

"When I finish a series, I want it to be like a damn good poem," Schuettle told Peracciny. "I want every line in that thing to be its own little world."

Here's the final result, worth more than one watch:

My review of Scheuttle's CEPA show is after the jump.

--Colin Dabkowski

Continue reading "Filmmaker Nathan Peracciny releases new doc on Buffalo photographer Marshall Scheuttle" »

A closer look: 'The Eternal Blast' at Eleven Twenty Projects


An architectural rendering of Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester is part of "The Eternal Blast" in Eleven Twenty Projects.

Artist: Ludocivo Centis with University at Buffalo architecture students // Title: "The Eternal Blast" // Through May 18 in Eleven Twenty Projects

The complex and painful legacy of the Manhattan Project was the impetus for this exhibition that documents various buildings and other sites throughout the United States that were involved in the secretive and far-reaching project. The image above depicts Rochester's Strong Memorial Hospital, which, according to project leader Ludovico Centis, UB's 2013-14 Peter Reyner Banham Fellow, "was home during the Manhattan Project years and the following decades to non-consensual human experimentation programs with radioactive solutions." (You can read more about those programs in Andrew Goliszek's book "In the Name of Science.")

The renderings and other material in the "Eternal Blast" show, including interviews with experts compiled in a separate publication, add up to a reconsideration of exactly what a "monument" is and how it functions. For most of us, buildings like Strong Hospital seem to stand for certain easily identifiable things, chief among them the noble pursuit to cure diseases and eradicate human suffering. But this exhibition aims to make viewers aware of the much more complicated legacies of our buildings and other monumental structures, which just as often serve as testaments to more shameful and painful periods in human history. At Strong, where more than a dozen patients were injected with plutonium or uranium without their knowledge, this is especially true.

According to the exhibition's organizers, the renderings in the show are "spinal landscapes," or "places where the ever-increasing tension between nature preservation and collective consciousness, and between the need for secrecy and the demand for participation, is truly tangible."

--Colin Dabkowski

Louisiana-Exchange open studio event planned for Saturday

Tingley-tomasello studios main wall

Artists in two buildings near Buffalo's Old First Ward will fling open their studio doors to visitors on Saturday between 12 and 6 p.m.

At 225 Louisiana St., artists Chris Kameck, Marissa Lehner, Frederick Mount and Gary Sczerbaniewicz will display their work.

At 567 Exchange St., a dozen more artists and design studios will host visitors. They are:

OGRE, Joel Brenden, Anne Muntges, Adam Weekley, Chuck Tingley, Rich Tomasello, Charlie Ertel, Matthew John Pasquarella, Tom Sander, Philip Kuznicki, Studio 33 Design Concepts and WEBB Exchange.

--Colin Dabkowski

Albright-Knox’s Board of Directors and staff are committed to the importance of public art and we enthusiastically applaud the City’s renewed efforts to commit funds to its public art program.  This will be an important addition to the public art initiative that Erie County approved in its most recent budget

A closer look: 'Amish Barn' by Joe Mortellaro

Amish Barn-Leon NY_color

Title: "Amish Barn" // Artist: Joe Montellaro // On view in "York by York West," River Art Gallery, Saturday through June 26

At first glance, this piece by Joe Mortellaro seems to be a nostalgic recreation of a pastoral American scene in a rote, neo-impressionist style. Upon closer examination, however, what appear to be strategically placed daubs of paint take on the appearance of torn paper. On even closer examination, the "painting" reveals itself as a meticulously manipulated digital object. Those torn shreds of paper are not what they appear to be, nor are the daubs of paint really daubs of paint.

A detail of "Amish Barn":


I asked Mortellaro for an explanation of his process, which he was hesitant to explain too specifically in order not to disclose any trade secrets:

"I usually begin with sketches and color studies and combine them with photography, and various collage techniques. I then take the work-in-progress into a software environment. I experiment and develop methods using some of the most advanced and exciting software available, including physics-based lighting and particle systems. The resulting work has its roots in, among other things, impressionism, modernism and the colorist movement but is built upon a fusion of digital mark making and traditional composition and subject matter."

His exhibition "York by York West," opening Saturday in North Tonawanda's River Art Gallery, explores the connections between York and Yorkshire in England and the Western New York landscape. According to Mortellaro, "Amish Barn" is meant to be an American reflection of Yorkshire's traditional stone farm buildings and barns.

"The show is not a one-to-one comparison of landmarks and scenery between the two 'Yorks,'" Mortellaro wrote in an email. "Rather, it is my hope that while viewing my work, the observer will experience a fluid movement between the two regions and perhaps loose any preconceptions of location and time that they may have brought with them."

--Colin Dabkowski

A closer look: 'Fall on me (Route 5)' by Max Collins


Title: "Fall on me (Route 5)" // Artist: Max Collins // Ró, 732 Elmwood Ave. through June 10

Buffalo photographer Max Collins, known for his community-focused wheatpastes throughout the region, is taking on one of Buffalo's most controversial structures: the Skyway. His new series, which shows the elevated highway snaking through downtown Buffalo against weathered wooden panels, was inspired by a recent list of problem highways in American cities compiled by the Congress for New Urbanism called "Freeways Without Futures."

That list, which went viral on Facebook earlier this year and was the talk of local urbanists for some weeks, includes Syracuse's I-81, the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto and Rochester's Inner Loop. Collins' pieces are photographs of the structure wheatpasted to wood panels that have been smeared and scarred with dirt, rocks and cement from construction sites around Buffalo.

The "Freeways Without Futures" list, Collins said, "made me think I should begin to document them simply for historical value, but being also aware that these structures hold a much deeper sociocultural significance." The series, he added, was also partly inspired by the work of Daniel Arsham, a sculptor whose work gives modern objects an ancient patina.

"In a similar vein of how Arsham uses materials to speak to the work, I found it appropriate to utilize more ephemeral materials like wood and paper to create pieces that highlight such permanent structures," Collins said of his new series. Collins' new work also bears a striking resemblance to Catherine Opie's groundbreaking "Freeway" series of the early 1990s, which depicted the concrete structures criss-crossing the landscape from below, bringing out a beauty hidden to drivers.

Unlike the list that inspired them, Collins' pieces take no definitive position. It's possible to see in them all the divergent things people see when they look at the Skyway itself: an unoffensive relic of the mid-20th century, an architectural underdog whose beauty is underrecognized or an assualt on the senses and an impediment to the city's unrealized potential.

--Colin Dabkowski

Buffalo Common Council may revive public art program

Coronation Day

Kenneth Snelson's "Coronation Day," from 1980, is the latest large-scale piece of public art in downtown Buffalo. Picture from Buffalo Arts Commission.

A longstanding and long-ignored provision requiring the city to set aside 1 percent of the money for capital projects over $1 million for public art may be revived on Tuesday by Buffalo's Common Council.

According to News Reporter Jill Terreri, councilman Michael LoCurto has drafted a resolution that calls for the program -- officially incorporated into the city charter in 1999 -- to be fully enforced. The resolution "supports reviving the 1% for Art in Public Places Program, and requests responsible City officers and departments develop and coordinate internal processes and mechanisms that will help ensure this law is enacted to the fullest extent by the beginning of fiscal year 2014-2015."

It also requests that Buffalo Public Works Commissioner Steve Stepniak compile a list of current and future capital projects that qualify for the program and submit it to the council by May 27.

"It not only adds to the urban experience and what makes city living interesting, but it’s also supporting local artists, which is always a good thing," LoCurto told me in an interview about the stalled program last year. "We have such a vibrant arts and cultural community that I think it’s important for the city to do what it can to support it."

The council may vote on the resolution as early as Tuesday, or at its next meeting on April 29.

Here is a copy of LoCurto's resolution:

--Colin Dabkowski

City of Night puts out a call for site-specific work

City of Night, the grassroots multi-arts festival which will take over Silo City on June 28, is seeking proposals for "performance art, installations, sound art, murals, dance, theater, and light-based works."

Emerging Leaders in the Arts Buffalo, the group behind the popular festival, released a teaser video in hopes of inspiring Western New York creative types to apply. Check out the City of Night website if you're interested in applying. Here's a look:


And a handy walkthrough of the site for artists interested in exactly what they're applying to:

 --Colin Dabkowski

Albright-Knox curator Douglas Dreishpoon to scale back

Albright-Knox Art Gallery Chief Curator Douglas Dreishpoon will scale back his duties in May. Photo by Derek Gee / The Buffalo News

Mark Sommer reports today that Douglas Dreishpoon, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery's chief curator, will be stepping into a more limited role at the gallery as of May 1.

Dreishpoon's move, which he said was inspired by his desire to spend more time writing and organizing exhibitions in Buffalo and elsewhere, is the latest in a series of changes to the gallery's top staff. Here's a timeline of the changes since Louis Grachos' departure in 2012:

2012: Former director Louis Grachos departs for the Contemporary Austin, followed shortly thereafter by curator Heather Pesanti

April 2013: Janne Sirén becomes the 11th director of the Albright-Knox

October 2013: Longtime deputy director Karen Spaulding leaves for the Oishei Foundation. Gallery announces hiring of Cathleen Chaffee as new curator

January 2014: Joe Martin Lin-Hill begins his tenure as the gallery's new deputy director

April 2014: Aaron Ott becomes the gallery's first public art curator

The gallery has not announced its plans to fill Dreishpoon's position.

Here's a look some of our coverage of Dreishpoon's exhibitions over the years:

Edwin Dickinson: Dreams and Realities” (2002)

Robert Mangold: Beyond the Line, Paintings and Project, 2000-2008” (2009)

Guillermo Kuitca: Everything, Paintings and Works on Paper, 1980-2008” (2010)

Ken Price: Slow and Steady Wins the Race, Works on Paper, 1962-2010” (2013).

The Long Curve: 150 Years of Visionary Collecting at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery” (2011)

DECADE: Contemporary Collecting 2002-2012” (2012)

--Colin Dabkowski

« Older Entries