Installers lower a slice of Spanish marble onto Jaume Plensa's new sculpture, "Laura," at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery on Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Derek Gee / The Buffalo News.
Yesterday, I caught up with the artist Jaume Plensa -- creator of the popular Crown Fountain installation in Chicago -- as he oversaw the installation of his new sculpture on the north side of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Here's what he had to say:
"Messiaen V," a 2010 by Catherine Parker from the collection of the Burchfield Penney Art Center.
Nancy Weekly, the longtime curator and Charles Burchfield expert at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, has posted a remembrance of the beloved and prolific Western New York painter Catherine Parker, who died Tuesday. An excerpt:
She enriched our lives by bringing people together in the name of world
peace and universal understanding. Surely we knew her art as the most
visible part of her life, but she was more than a painter. She will be
missed, but through her paintings, we have come to see what is
meaningful in life.
Look for my column on Parker's life and contributions, as well as a video interview with Parker's friends and collaborators Janz Castelo and Roland Martin, on Sunday.
Tom McCarthy, one of the more striking new talents to emerge from British
fiction over the past decade, reads from his work tonight at 7 p.m. in the
University at Buffalo's Exhibit X Fiction Series at Hallwalls Cinema, 341
Delaware Avenue, near Tupper St. The
event is free and open to the public.
McCarthy is the author of “Remainder” (Metronome Press, 2005), a debut novel
which dealt with questions of trauma and repetition, “Men in Space” (Alma
Books, 2007), set in Central Europe during the collapse of communism, and “C” (Alfred A. Knopf, 2010) , a novel set
in the early 20th century that explores the relationship between melancholia,
violence and the emergent radio technology of the era, as well as the essay
collection “Tintin and the Secret of Literature,"an exploration of the themes and patterns of Hergé’s comic books, published by
Granta Books in 2006.
“Remainder” won the 2008 Believer Book Award and is currently being adapted for
cinema by FilmFour Films. "C"
was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2010.
In addition to his work as a fiction
writer, essayist, and critic, McCarthy is the founder and General Secretary of
the International Necronautical Society (INS), a semi-fictitious avant-garde
network of writers, philosophers and artists whose work has been exhibited
internationally at venues including the Palais de Tokyo Paris, Tate Britain and
Moderna Museet Stockholm.
During the most recent Allentown First Fridays event, I wandered into Sp@ce 224, an art gallery on Allen Street. I found the artist Francisco Amaya (a Buffalo ex-pat and erstwhile Infringement Festival participant) operating a homemade harmonograph which had produced a number of intricate prints that were hanging on the gallery walls. Here he demonstrates how the contraption works:
On Sunday, my column about Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz's proposed 2013 budget appeared in The News. The budget includes increased funding for arts organizations but also a 3.4 percent property tax hike. On Monday, the county executive's communications and policy director Mark Cornell responded. And today, Halllwalls Contemporary Arts Center director and outspoken arts advocate Edmund Cardoni responded to Cornell's suggestion that the cultural community needs to continue to make an argument for why it deserves county funding.
Here's an excerpt of Cardoni's comment:
"...Speaking for myself and my fellow arts advocates (and, if I may, library supporters), we don't take anything for granted and understand full well that we need to go to bat for your budget with 100% effort, not only in the interest of our sector, but for the good of all the citizens of Erie County, because those of us who work in the arts and the individual artists for whom we advocate (most of whom are homeowners and taxpayers ourselves), our audiences and individual supporters, the children served by our arts education programs, and the owners of all the small businesses we patronize ourselves and help generate business for are ALL citizens of Erie County. It's a balanced budget, a compassionate budget, a responsible budget, and a budget that will keep Erie County's regional economic development moving forward. We support it all."
Today, I had a chat with Mark Cornell, director of policy and communications in the office of Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. He was responding to my recent column about the county executive's proposed 2013 budget, which includes increased arts and cultural funding but also includes a 3.4 percent property tax increase.
Cornell took issue with my assertion that Poloncarz tied the tax increase to arts, culture and libraries as opposed to subsidies to the Buffalo Bills, renegotiating expensive employee contracts or the Erie County Water Authority's continued use as a patronage trough.
I intended the statement as a general illustration of places that might merit more financial scrutiny and conversation rather than a specific suggestion about how to solve the $8 million budget gap that Poloncarz is filling with increased tax revenue. But Cornell made plenty of good points, so I wanted to give him a chance to respond:
Poloncarz's proposed budget -- summed up in this story by The News' Denise Jewell Gee -- includes $5.57 million for arts and cultural organizations, which represents an increase of $148,000 over last year's budget. It also funds 14 new organizations which have not received county funding in years past.
But Poloncarz has also directly tied the arts and library funding in his budget to a 3.4 percent property tax increase, thus increasing the chances that the arts may once again become a political football in the ensuing debate over the budget in the Erie County Legislature. From Gee's story, emphasis mine:
Without the tax increase, Poloncarz said, the county would have had to
severely cut back on services such as libraries, arts and cultural
funding and sheriff’s road patrols to make up for an $8 million deficit
that remained after his staff trimmed vacant jobs and other budget
During last year's heated debate over county cultural funding, one of many arguments the cultural community put forward was that tax increases were not necessary to continue or even increase cultural funding. The proposed tax increase, and the way Poloncarz has tied it directly to arts and library funding (along with other issues) complicates that narrative and gives the cultural community a tougher job in declaring its worth to Republican legislators, who are unhappy about the proposed increase, and the suburban taxpayers many of those legislators represent.
Look for more on this in my column next Sunday, Oct. 28.
The British blogger and author Norman Lebrecht calls our attention to a controversy surrounding the most famous portrait of Mozart. A friend kindly alerted it to me on Facebook. It seems this portrait, pictured above, is generating quite the buzz.
It was painted by Mozart's brother-in-law Joseph Lange, who married Aloysia Weber, the girl Mozart had originally been in love with. This portrait stands out among other Mozart portraits because it is the only one that appears to hint at his genius. The others all look kind of vapid and two-dimensional.
Our authority on this portrait is Michael Lorenz, a musicologist and scholar. Looking over what he wrote he seems to be telling us that the portrait was expanded from a miniature. I will have to read it in more depth. One thing, the portrait always did look a little funny to me by the way it is unfinished but the boundary between the painted and the unpainted areas is so pronounced. It looks like a paint-by-number painting might if you had not finished it.
I like how Lorenz knows Lange's work and calls him one of the best amateur painters he has run across. It is fortunate that Mozart had his portrait painted by someone halfway decent. Other than that, Mozart was unlucky in that regard. You think of Chopin, being painted by Delacroix ... I saw this in the Louvre..
Daemen College's new Center for the Visual and Performing Arts opened on Oct. 4. Photo by Charles Lewis / The Buffalo News.
Earlier tonight, Daemen College celebrated the opening of its new Center for Visual and Performing Arts. The building, formerly the college's library, was transformed by local architecture firm Lauer-Manguso. The firm's Glenn Jones spoke to me about the concept for the design during a break from the celebration in the structure's outdoor classroom area:
And here's a short video of Daemen College President Edwin Clausen giving some remarks about the building's importance to the college and to the community at large:
Look for Charles Lewis' photos later on, and my column on the new center in Sunday's paper.