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Allentown Artist Profile: Andy Russell

One booth to make sure to look for while walking around the Allentown Art Festival this weekend is that of long-time participant Andy Russell. Andy produces original acrylic paintings and limited reproductions in a remarkable style he calls “extended realism”, and 2007 marks his 25th year meeting and greeting both old friends and new customers at the Festival.
“Normally, I attend up to fourteen shows a year,” he explains, in a room filled with the new canvases of the season. “This year, I’m focusing on developing my online presence, so I’ll only be attending about four.” He says the Allentown Art Festival is not only special to locals – “Every year, I hear from exhibitors in other cities that they enjoyed the Allentown Festival, and how much they like Buffalo. That word spreads.”
Andy himself does “a fair chunk” of his annual business at the Festival. Each year, he completes between 50 to 70 new works, choosing one or two for that year’s reproductions. To help to make his work available to a wider audience, prices range from under one hundred dollars for smaller reproductions to the $5,000 range for larger original pieces. Additionally, he allows for cash deposits and monthly payments while the customer holds onto the work. “It’s not about holding on to them,” he says. “I like to make room to create more of them.”
Andy’s current work is entirely landscape oriented, but not any landscape – his works are also entirely dream-inspired. “I had a series of recurring dreams that began in the ’70s, hundreds of them. I had to do something with them, so I taught myself to paint.” His bio states that the landscapes were “incredible lands of peace, beauty, and tranquility,” with “beautiful, unique foliage and incredible architecture.”
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“I like to call it an extension of reality – a perfect world of well-being.” His works have given many others the same sense of peace. Two stories he related included a son commissioning a work of his father’s long-time home, as he left it behind and retired to Florida. “The father called me and thanked me up and down,” he remembered. “He said it brought tears to his eyes.” In another touching story, he spoke of a husband and wife who commissioned him to create a piece entitled “Hope” after learning the husband was suffering from cancer. He said the wife later told him it had brought them both great solace during her husband’s illness, and after his death, she asked him to create a follow-up work, “Hope’s Angel”, which hints at his soul among the clouds.
Whether you prefer the mysterious glowing night scenes, the vibrant desert or tropical snapshots, or his soothing landscapes with imagined skies, there will be something of Andy’s that captures your heart and brings you back again and again.
Today, Andy is a signature member of the National Acrylic Painters Association (NAPA) with headquarters in England and a member of the Buffalo Society of Artists. His artwork is well represented in corporate and private collections in the United States and abroad including GTE, Aero Instruments and Avionics, The Castellani Art Museum, General Motors, and even celebrity artist Peter Max. With a son who is a professional drummer, and a daughter who is also a successful artist, Andy and his family have been brightening Buffalo’s artistic scene for some time, and will no doubt continue for years to come.
Be sure to see his work for yourself and give him a big Buffalo Rising “hello!” I can guarantee you’ll be a fan, if not a customer, once you see his work. Not able to make the Festival? His works are also available online.

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