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Precious Cargo: Living In A Great Lake Community

By Nate Drag:

In environmental debates over the Great Lakes, it is easy to forget that there are tens of millions of people that live, work, and play along the shores of the waters. Even here in Buffalo, the presence of the Lake Erie can fade into the background and offer only the simplest context to our busy lives. But for certain people, the Great Lakes offer inspiration and exploration. One such individual, Paul Lloyd Sagent, is artist in residence and curator of a new exhibit opening this Thursday March 18th at the University at Buffalo’s Center for Fine Arts.

The exhibit, entitled Precious Cargo, features a variety of work by artists and activists interested in issues that deal with the inherent contradictions that Great Lakes communities like ours, and places around the world, are facing as we move further into the 21st century. This multi-media exhibit explores our lives in our local environments and how, where, and why they intersect with global economic and environment forces. Ideas of international-national transportation networks versus regional and local transport, supply chain versus disposal chain concepts, resource exhaustion versus sustainable culture, and consumption versus reuse are some common themes that run throughout the exhibit.
Paul Lloyd Sargent, a multi-disciplinary artist, freelance video editor, and writer, is originally from the Syracuse area and grew up in the Thousand Islands region of New York. After living in New York City and receiving his Masters in Fine Arts. Sargent work began to explore the relationship of global economic forces, a disposable culture, and the transportation network that maintains them. From this, a project entitled Not To Scale took form. This concept of this piece is a working relief map of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway made entirely from discarded objects that were found in Buffalo and along the locks, canals, and waterways necessary for travel from the Atlantic Ocean to each of the Great Lakes.
Inspiration does not, however, have to come from examinations of global systems. It can also come from your own backyard.  In conjunction with the Precious Cargo exhibit, Alberto Rey, a SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Visual Arts and New Media from Fredonia State will be presenting the Lightwell Project as a continuation of his Biological Regionalism series.  Throughout this series, Rey aims to reestablish a connection to local landscapes by introducing fish found in local bodies of water through video and traditional painting. For the Lightwell Project, Rey will be using source material collected at Ellicott Creek to capture the colors and movements of largemouth bass during their annual migration.

Finally, another local artist located in Buffalo, Stella Marrs, will be presenting her Shopping Cart Victory Gardens. This instillation, created to honor the memory of Buffalo’s Rosa Gibson, brings Marrs’ mobile urban gardens built in discarded shopping carts to a new focus: vermaculture.  Shopping Cart Victory Gardens, just like the other exhibits, communicates the interconnection of issues of community, environment, and water that Precious Cargo hopes to promote. The exhibit also highlights the work of The Center for Land Use Interpretation, The Center for Urban Pedagogy, Thomas Comerford, Compass Group working in the MRCC, Thomas Frank, Sabine Gruffat and Bill Brown, Chris Jordan, Mary Mattingly, Lize Mogel, Stephanie Rothenberg, Sam Sebren, The Waterpod® and Alex Young.

Precious Cargo opens this Thursday at UB’s Center for Fine Arts from 5-7pm and runs through May 15th. 

In addition to this opportunity to reexamine the international economic and ecological systems working in the Great Lakes through art, there are number of lectures, presentations, and exhibits throughout this spring as part of the Exploring the Past, Present, and Future Relationship between the Environment and Trade Lecture and Film Series. These events include:

Tuesday, March 30 at 6pm, Center for the Arts, Screening Room
• Jeff Alexander, award winning journalist and author “Pandora’s Locks: The Opening of the Great Lakes-St Lawrence Seaway”

Thursday, April 1 at 12pm, UB Art Gallery, Center for the Arts, First Floor Gallery
• Alberto Rey, SUNY Distinguished Professor, Visual Arts and New Media.
“Looking for Home”

Thursday, April 8 at 12pm, UB Art Gallery, Center for the Arts, First Floor Gallery
• Jennifer Nalbone, Great Lakes United, Director on Navigation and Invasive Species “Hindsight on Highway H2O”

Thursday, April 8 at 6pm, UB Art Gallery, Center for the Arts, First Floor Gallery
• Paul Lloyd Sargent “Precious Cargo: the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River”

Thursday, April 15 at 12pm, UB Art Gallery, Center for the Arts, First Floor Gallery
• Dr. Margaret Wooster, Habitat Coordinator, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper “I Drink Therefore I Am”

Saturday, May 1 at 10am, UB Art Gallery, Center for the Arts, First Floor Gallery
• Richard Price, Seedsavers’ Exchange Member, Former NOFA-Certified Organic Market Gardener “Grow-Your-Own Garden Seedlings Organically”

Friday, May 14 at 8pm, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center
• Film screening and performance featuring work by Paul Lloyd Sargent, Thomas Comerford, Bill Brown and Sabine Gruffat, $7 general, $5 students/seniors, $4 members

Check out the UB Art Gallery webpage for more info.

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