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Fragments: Tonight

Tonight, four local artists will be stepping out of the city’s traditional gallery spaces and releasing their creative energy onto the walls of one of Buffalo’s more industrial venues. Chuck Tingley, Max Collins, Matt Grote (a.k.a. OGRE), and Thomas Webb will be hosting “Fragments”–a collaborative exhibition of their individual work–at Hi-Temp Fabrication, located in The Cobblestone District. 
“I would consider what we’re doing kind of like a pop-up show,” Tingley said. “I would like to see more of those happening with all the spaces and artists we have.” Taking the road less traveled led them to discover the space at Hi-Temp and it’s raw, spacious warehouse feel. Tingley and the others found it ideal for their group show and hope theirs will spark a wave of pop-up art shows in local warehouses. 
“A great thing about the space is it was available to us without having to go through this whole application process. With galleries you usually have to wait like a year to get in, but we were able to get around that,” Grote said. 
Taking the reigns in putting a show together independently proved to be a learning experience for the four, especially with it being a non-traditional setting. “You can do what you want and you’re in complete control, but you have to find the time to hang show, price it, promote it–it’s all on us,” Tingley said. “You have your ups and downs with all spaces. Curating in a warehouse is a challenge in itself. Some of the walls are tricky because they’re brick, and the lighting can be tough.” 
Still they managed to maneuver their way around their full-time job schedules and limited business hours at the warehouse, bringing in palates loaded with art to fill the space. Each artist will be exhibiting his own separately titled show, though a common tread ties the fragments together. The pieces will all focus on the human form, with each artist examining it through his own unique lens.

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“We’re all looking at people–that’s the top concept that kind of gets broken down as you go down,” Grote said. “We’re each splicing it in our own way and breaking it down into symbolic things.” This common theme of examining humanity through figurative drawing and portraiture is common to each artist’s work, though their respective styles are diverse. 
The show will take place from 6-11 p.m. at Hi-Temp, located at 79 Perry Street. The opening will be free and open to the public, with baked goods from Wandercrust, which are being themed after each of the participating artists. 
Here’s a breakdown of each artist’s collection: what inspired them, what methods they use, and what they’re trying to convey to the viewer in their piece of the Fragments exhibit:
Chuck Tingley: Nothing Lasts Forever
“It’s kind of like the Seinfeld of art,” Tingley said. “It’s about nothing–it’s about my life and that’s it. Essentially I’m painting things to figure out my own life. And the only thing constant is change.”
Tingley utilizes found objects, namely doors and windows, to convey this theme of inevitable and consistent change taking place all around us. “To me it’s a metaphor; through doors and windows you can only see so far. That applies to life and the Internet where technology is always changing, and secondhand becomes firsthand,” he said. 
The artist credits his childhood love of exploring forbidden spaces in explaining his newfound obsession with found objects. “Since I was a kid, I liked exploring buildings and places I shouldn’t be in and I was always fascinated with finding something I wasn’t supposed to find.” Over the past couple years, Tingley rediscovered his explorer’s spirit and began collecting windows and doors–an effort that will culminate in his largest installation yet. 
“I’m really into installation work and the idea of transforming a space into another world,” Tingley said. Consistent with the theme of his current exhibit, Tingley’s methods and his perspective have evolved since his first solo show. Painting, drawing and spray-painting formed a foundation for him to incorporate found objects and installation work into a more comprehensive view of his ever-changing perception of the world he creates in. 
OGRE: OGRE make friends
“Ultimately this series is about life for me–it’s about people in my life that mean something to me and spending time thinking about them and how to represent them,” Grote said. “It’s not done in a literal way, these aren’t accurate representations of the people. They’re more like caricatures. I’m trying to bring out some of their essence, what they’re about symbolically.”
Grote uses bold lines and bright colors, tailoring them to embody the personality of the person he is illustrating. His pieces draw inspiration from the cartoon realm, where black lines add definition and the general laws of physics seem to bend. “I do a lot of twisting things–I’m not sure why, I guess I wanted to challenge myself. There’s nothing that says I can’t do it, so I do it. And I like to make people feel kind of uncomfortable, so I’ll put things like gnarly fingernails in–just little things to poke at people,” he said.
Producing the figurative pieces for this series was a change for Grote, who defines his creative norm as a bit chaotic. “A lot of the time I come up with an idea and I just do it. I decided that I was going to commit to something even if it was going to take me 10 years to do it. Focusing on figurative work helped me to figure out how to put bodies of work together moving forward,” he said. “But I’m still all over the place, I don’t think that’s going to change.”
Grote began working on this series in late 2010, making sure to take the time to incorporate all the people who mean the most to him in the show.  The pieces were produced as gifts to their subjects, thus they will not be for sale. “I wouldn’t feel right separating the painting from the person it was meant to be with, because they mean so much to me,” he said. His work will be displayed in a random order, so as not to give too much away, but he thinks that viewers will notice his progression as he developed his figurative technique.  

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Max Collins: No More Talking
Collins will be presenting the third installment of his “No More Talking” series, which examines the severity of our reliance on digital technology. He poin
ts out that the message behind the portraits is not intended to dismiss digital technology, but to draw our attention to how significant our interactions with it have become.
“With this chapter, I’m focusing on children as subjects. I’ve noticed with the development of products like the iPad, children are interacting with this technology at an incredibly young age, so I want to start focusing on the root of this digital addict behavior,” he said. 
The idea for the series was sparked by a conversation that Collins had with a family friend who was interviewing applicants for his company years ago. “He noted that these fresh college graduates were coming in with great resumes, but continually lacked charisma.  He described their expressions as ‘gamer faces,’ attributing the lack of social skills to a childhood spent playing video games; and ever since, I’ve remained observant of this trend,” Collins said. “I eventually did my thesis in school about Internet addiction and that’s when I started taking portraits of people lit with computer screens.”
The pieces have been produced through a combined process of taking photographs and wheatpasting them, which offered Collins the chance to be more physically involved with the creative process. “While I still utilize the benefits of photographing with a digital camera and editing with Photoshop, even more time is spent creating a physical object that separates my images from their digital origins,” he said, “demonstrating a mindset I try to maintain in my life that embraces the benefits of digital technology, while remaining proactive as to not allow it to consume me.” 
Thomas Webb: Projections 
Webb’s pieces will explore the balance of good and evil that exists within all of us, what brings an individual’s inner demons out, and how our attempts to handle those devils can impact the world around us. 
“Usually I work in ink, but this time I’m working with acrylics on canvas, which was different,” he said. “The concept of good and evil–it’s all black and white, people say it always has that theme to it, so I wanted to explore that.” 
Rather than depict solid structures, Webb uses static and chaotics to bring across that sense of evil in the figures he depicts. “For each painting there’s a different theme, but it all ties in together. There’s always going to be some percentage of good, just as there’s some percentage of evil. It’s just finding the balance between the two.” 
Webb says working on this show brought him back to a technique he hadn’t explored since his earlier days as an artist. “I always did figure drawing in school and had kind of gotten away from it. It was very cool to get back into.” He chose to produce his work on canvas for this show to coincide with the larger scale venue.
For further info on the show, visit the Facebook event page

Written by Sarah Maurer

Sarah Maurer

I moved to Buffalo to attend Canisius College in 2007 and began writing for Buffalo Rising as a journalism intern in 2010. Working with Newell and meeting numerous entrepreneurs, activists and everyday folks who were working to make their city better made a huge impact on my decision to stay here. After witnessing all the positive development and grassroots initiatives happening in neighborhoods throughout the city, I was inspired to pursue a term of service in AmeriCorps and a career in Buffalo's non-profit sector. I currently work in the housing department at the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center of WNY and am excited to be a part of their ongoing efforts to revitalize the Broadway Fillmore neighborhood. I also volunteer as the project coordinator for Artfarms Buffalo. I continue to write for Buffalo Rising because I love having the opportunity to stay connected to those working toward positive changes for the Queen City.

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