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Benetton visit yields artistic rewards

It was a little more than a year ago when a couple of impressive yachts pulled into the Erie Basin Marina (see here). It was soon discovered (thanks to my dad), that one of the yachts (named M/Y Tribu’) was owned by United Colors of Benetton’s founder Luciano Benetton.

Fast forward one year later, and that unexpected visit from Benetton has yielded an uncanny fringe benefit. It turns out that while the Benetton was visiting the Albright-Knox, an employee suggested that he also pay a visit to Buffalo Arts Studio (BAS), in order to get a taste of the local art scene. You would think that that suggestion would have fallen by the wayside, but instead the billionaire art collector followed the lead and wound up at the Tri-Main building, where he ultimately threw down $19,000 on a series of works from artist Dennis Bertram.

And if that wasn’t enough, a relationship was struck between Benetton and Buffalo Arts Studio that soon helped to commission four resident BAS artists (Dennis Barraclough, Fotini Galanes, John A. Sargent III, and Hyeyoung Shin) to create new works on mini canvases to be included in the Benetton Collection.

The Buffalo artists were selected by BAS Artistic Director Cori Wolff, and the works were ultimately photographed and published in the catalogue Imago Mundi:  Contemporary Artists from the USA. Other noted American artists that were also featured in the catalog included Laurie Anderson, Devendra Banhart, David Byrne, and Swoon. The culminating exhibition called ‘Imago Mundi’ is on view now as part of the Venice Biennale event, running August 27 through October 27, 2013, at Fondazione Querini Stampalia in Venice, Italy. The show features min-canvases by artists from Australia, Korea, India, Japan, and the USA.


Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette, and the Madd Tiki Winter Luau. Other projects: Navigetter.

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  • brownteeth

    Pretty cool story!

  • paulbuffalo

    Great story.  Buffalo could use more art patrons and visitors to local galleries.
    As much as people say they love the Albright-Knox, they don’t seem to visit and support it in the numbers necessary for the museum to get its operating budget under control.  The museum was very fortunate to receive the recent bequest by Peggy Pierce Elfvin.

  • texpat

    Great story.  It would have been amazing had he given a donation to the AK.  Even though he didn’t though, his patronage of the Buffalo artists he did buy/support is incredible!

  • Rccooper

    This filthy rich 1%er must not be taxed enough if he can afford to buy this overpriced art.

  • texpat

    He is Italian so I dare say he pays a lot more than he would were he American.

  • ajthomas24

    Really cool story! Now I’m off to the United Colors of Benetton store downtown that was opened when City Hall’s finest rolled out the red carpet for him when he visited last year. Oh wait…

  • Rand503

    ajthomas24 Good will among the movers and shakers around the world pays its own dividends.  If he had a great time here and liked what he saw, he will likely mention to other people in his circle, and that might draw more people to the city.  Word of mouth is quite powerful, especially when it comes from someone on his stature, who has surely seen the world.

  • micahh64

    Or maybe the red carpet wasn’t rolled out because City Hall’s finest were unaware of his visit — or were aware and were respecting his privacy . . .

  • ajthomas24

    Rand503 ajthomas24  
    As much as I respect that logic I don’t necessarily buy into it. Maybe micahh64 is right and city hall didn’t know he was here and, if they did, wanted to respect his privacy. That’s all well and good. I just think that with the state of the city’s retail industry and the paucity of quality clothing stores, the incredible empty stock of downtown store fronts and department buildings, someone from city hall would’ve made more of an effort entice a UCofB store to open in the city.

  • paulbuffalo

    Entice how?  Beg?  Hey, we promise you’ll have customers.  Just, please, build something.
    It doesn’t work that way.  If the demographics work then retailers will clamor to open stores downtown.
    Locals aren’t supporting the Albright-Knox in adequate numbers.  Perhaps, patronizing the existing culturals and local businesses in stronger numbers will get the attention of national retailers.

  • ajthomas24

    paulbuffalo ajthomas24  
     Really, are you kidding me? How does it work? Corporations are enticed all the time with incredible tax breaks and wonderful loopholes. These people should be wined and dined at Tempo or Oliver’s and given a personal tour of the city by the mayor himself.

    And maybe locals aren’t supporting existing culturals and businesses perhaps because local culturals and businesses aren’t listening to what people actually want.

  • LouisTully

    ajthomas24 paulbuffalo “Corporations are enticed all the time with incredible tax breaks and wonderful loopholes”
    That worked really well with Bass Pro.  Getting off its knees was the best thing that could have happened for this region.  Let’s not embarrass ourselves again, please.
    Please bring back the down-vote, BR.

  • ajthomas24

    Why do you need a down-vote? if you don’t like my opinion just say it. Quite frankly I didn’t like the Bass Pro idea and I am glad that the project is moving forward and will ultimately benefit without it. All I am saying is that when a billionaire comes into town on his yacht, owns an international chain of retail stores, it would be nice if we got more than a $19,000 purchase of art work and a relationship with BAS. But, I guess I should be happy with anything we get, right?

  • paulbuffalo

    Corporations are enticed all the time with incredible tax breaks and wonderful loopholes.
    Not the same thing.  Corporations don’t depend on foot traffic: retail does.  Unless someone can guarantee you ‘x’ number of people with adequate disposal income entering your store, sorry, you’d be foolish to build your store because you were treated to a nice dinner.
    I empathize with your frustration, though.  Yes, Buffalo doesn’t have a great mix of retail.  Once the demographics catch up then retailers will be interested.
    Personally, I’m more concerned about entities like the Albright-Knox.

  • micahh64

    paulbuffalo ajthomas24  
     “Corporations don’t depend on foot traffic: retail does.  Unless
    someone can guarantee you ‘x’ number of people with adequate disposal
    income entering your store, sorry, you’d be foolish to build your store
    because you were treated to a nice dinner.”
    This, exactly.
    Besides, given the incessant whine about not supporting chains — both here on BRO and on other Buffalo-centric blogs — if Luciano himself were to hear about them, he’d be more likely to open the newest UCoB store in New York State in the same place he has the eight current ones:  the NYC area . . .

  • i’m guessing that the guy would appreciate being able to take a vacation without the development agencies in every port hitting him up for a store.