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Jesse Walp talks about 'Life Forms' at Buffalo Arts Studio

On Friday afternoon, I talked with the artist Jesse Walp, whose ongoing show "Life Forms" includes sculptures of imaginary organic life forms meticulously carved out of wood. I'll post an in-depth look at how he created the show's biggest sculpture as part of my next weeky "Closer Look" post, but in the meantime, here's Walp talking about the inspiration for his new work:


--Colin Dabkowski

A closer look: The harrowing history of Degas' 'Mlle. Fiocre'

Artist: Edgar Degas // "Mlle. Fiocre dans le ballet La Source" // "Buffalo's Monuments Men," through April 6 // Albright-Knox Art Gallery

The dark and fascinating history of this painting by the French Impressionist master Edgar Degas, a prized part of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery's collection since 1958, was only recently discovered. As Mark Sommer wrote last week in his story about the Albright-Knox's "Monuments Men" exhibition, the painting was one of hundreds of works slated to be shipped out of German-occupied Paris by the Nazis in the final months of World War II. It had been looted from the collection of Jewish art collector Alphonse Kann, who fled Paris for London in 1938 and left much of his collection behind.

In a riveting talk at the gallery last Thursday, collection cataloguer Gabriela Zoller recounted the surprising story of the painting's provenance, which she discovered during some routine research for the gallery's database.In short, Zoller came across a copy of the Nazi catalog card for the painting, which indicated that it had been stolen from Kann's collection, given a new German title and was on its way to Germany when the Allies intervened. As Zoller noted, the Nazis' "documents of theft became the evidence of restitution."

The remarkable full story, transcribed from this video of Thursday's press conference, follows after the jump.

--Colin Dabkowski

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A new arts space on Grant Street?


For the past few days, Jason Lloyd Clement, avowed Buffalover and director of community outreach at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has been sending out cryptic Instagram and Facebook posts about a new project he's working on with Buffalo-born artist Casey Milbrand.

The pair has evidently rented a space next to Sweetness7 on Grant Street (above), where a huge heart with "#Buffalove" hashtag hangs behind windows scrawled with a tic-tac-toe board and an intriguing message: "Can't get enough of this place so we rented a space."

What's in store for the space? Clement, who fell head over heels for Buffalo during the National Trust's conference here in 2011, isn't saying. But keep an eye on the Grant Street space, and this digital one, for more info as he and Milbrand reveal their plans.

--Colin Dabkowski

A closer look: 'C.E.B In His Own Words'

Artist: Charles E. Burchfield // // Every day

Since early last year, the Burchfield Penney Art Center has been featuring a new snippet of text almost daily from its namesake Charles Burchfield, the watercolorist who also happened to be a prolific writer. The feature hsa provided consistently delightful peek into Burchfield's restless mind, his process and his poetic sensibility about the world around him. Today's entry is a perfect example. Here's today's entry, paired beautifully with his 1919 painting "Tree Ghosts":

A heavy snow –
     The snow is intense white
     Brilliant as the sun tho the sky is gray –
     Shadows on the snow pale steel-gray –
     Houses became very intense – What color there is glows like fire, vivid red yellows & blues – Stark brown natural wood becomes a rich velvety black-purple-blue
     Trees against the sky seems to have stubbier thicker branches which are outlines in milky purple
     The snow has slid from some slate roofs in jagged patches so the town is a sharp clutter of black triangles & squares against the vivid white snow.
Charles E. Burchfield, Vol. 33, February 5, 1920

--Colin Dabkowski

The naked truth about public art

In a delightful and highly chuckle-worthy story, The Washington Post is reporting that a realistic sculpture of a nearly naked man sleepwalking in his underwear on Wellesley College campus is creating a stir. Whether or not it strikes your individual fancy, the sculpture strikes me as the perfect piece of public artwork merely because of the conversation it has caused. My favorite quote from the story is a joint statement from the college's president and its museum director:

“The very best works of art have the power to stimulate deeply personal emotions and to provoke unexpected new ideas, and this sculpture is no exception,” the university’s president and its museum director said Wednesday in a joint statement. They said the sculpture “has started an impassioned conversation about art, gender, sexuality, and individual experience, both on campus and on social media.”

Right on. Hopefully, as the Albright-Knox moves ahead with plans to hire a public art curator and insert more public art into the daily lives of Western New Yorkers, more of those conversations will be taking place here as well.

--Colin Dabkowski

Infringement Fest issues call for work

The 2014 Buffalo Infringment Festival, scheduled for July 24 to Aug. 3, is now accepting applications from local artists, musicians, filmmakers, poets and performers of all stripes. Some info from the release:

Infringement welcomes all musicians, visual artists, dancers, poets, actors, filmmakers, performance artists and street performers to be involved. There are no fees to enter and every application is accepted. Once you have started an application, you can go back to it at any time and add or change information. Registering early keeps you in touch with the monthly events and fundraisers and links you with an organizer in your genre of art. It also helps organizers plan ahead with volume, as the festival grows larger every year. To celebrate our 10th year we encourage everyone applying to step outside with their creative ideas and transform the streets of Buffalo into the ultimate free venue!

To submit your proposal, click here.

--Colin Dabkowski

Albright-Knox preparing to send its masterpieces on the road

Today, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery posted this picture of Jackson Pollock's "Convergence," one of many works it is sending out on a national tour highlighting its collection:


My favorite comment from Istagram user arkady_dolgoruky: "Omg the pollock!?!?!"

Unfortunately for fans of the monumental masterpiece of Abstract Expressionism, yes. The tour kicks off at the Denver Art Museum on March 2 and travels from there to San Diego, Milwaukee and Bentonville, Ark.

--Colin Dabkowski

A closer look: Accidental environmental art at 1 News Plaza

Artist: Unknown // 1 News Plaza

On my way into work this morning, I stumbled across this series of bootprints, most likely left in the melting snow by one of my fellow Buffalo News employees. Since we've been seeing a lot more environmental art lately -- such as artist Andy Goldsworthy's temperamental "Path" installation at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery -- I thought it made sense to highlight one of the many accidental artworks we make on a daily basis. It's likely that the person who created this eye-catching impression of a six-footed monster outside the News' lobby did so merely out of boredom and didn't think of it as art. But I like to think of art as anything at all that adds a moment of intrigue or beauty to the day, anything human-made thing that counfounds your ideas and expectations about what surrounds you. I think that's true whether the creator thinks of it as art or not. If you have your own examples of accidental art you've run across this winter, please post links in the comment section.

--Colin Dabkowski

Babeville to host forum on art, culture and 'placemaking' tonight

Jason Schupback, director of design for the National Endowment for the Arts, will lead a forum on the role of art and culture in the development of urban spaces tonight at 7 in Babeville's Asbury Hall

As projects such as Larkinville and Canalside spring up in American cities recovering from decades of economic stagnation, developers, architects and politicians are thinking much more about the role of culture in creating new urban landscapes and economies. The term for that trend is "placemaking," a highly lampoonable piece of jargon The Atlantic Cities included on its list of "Urbanist Buzzwords to Rethink in 2014."

Whatever you may think of the word itself, the trend is well worth exploring. Tonight's forum is sure to touch on many important issues central to the development of Buffalo in the next few years. Anyone interested in the rapid development of the city should check it out.

The forum is sponsored by Partners for a Livable Western New York, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and presented by Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center. As seating is limited, those interested in attending should RSVP by calling Hallwalls at 854-1694.

--Colin Dabkowski

A closer look: #MuseumSelfie Day

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Museum Selfie Day // On Twitter at #MuseumSelfie

One of the more fun digital fads to spread through the art world was Museum Selfie Day, which clogged art-lovers' Twitter feeds on Wednesday with dozens of pictures of museumgoers posing with their favorite works of art. Above are five pictures from fans of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery posing with works by Jaume Plensa, Constantin Brancusi and others. See more on the Albright-Knox Twitter feed, and look at a compilation of some of the best of yesterday's museum selfies on the website of The Guardian.

--Colin Dabkowski

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