It’s a great time for public art in Buffalo, mainly due to the numerous partnerships being struck up by local cultural groups and organizations. When you stop to think about the low hanging fruit, the no-brainers so to speak, one would think that the gallery district would offer up plenty of opportunities for collaborations. Just think – there’s The History Museum, The Albright-Knox, Burchfield-Penney, SUNY Buffalo State, Delaware Park, and The Richardson-Olmsted Complex. Together, all of these institutions create a cultural campus unlike anything else in the city. The Albright-Knox already has some sensational works of public art featured on its campus. And this past January, a significant sculpture was introduced to the roundabout in front of the Hotel Henry Urban Resort Conference Center.
When you take a look at all of the land components, we see that there is huge potential to create a museum without walls. The Buffalo State campus showcases a number of significant sculptures, and then there’s the monolith projectors in front of the Burchfield-Penney. There are even magnificent works along the Scajaquada Expressway (all the more reason to downgrade to a boulevard). The Albright-Knox recently revealed its latest expansion plans, which will remove the surface parking along Elmwood, thus creating a green plaza. It’s easy to see that Frederick Law Olmsted’s and Calvert Vaux’s influences, their original vision for this area, are finally getting the respect that they deserve. We’re starting to see how all of these cultural institutions will one day work together, to create a seamless campus that is not just pedestrian friendly, it will also tell the story of this city’s affinity for architecture, history, art, education, and the landscape that ties it all together.
Towards this aim of bridging the culturals within the Elmwood Avenue Cultural Corridor, The Albright-Knox Art Gallery has teamed up with the Richardson-Olmsted Campus to transplant a significant sculpture from one campus to another.
Since 2006, the work by Jim Hodges (American, born 1957) has made its home in the AK’s sculpture garden, mainly viewable when dining at the AK Café. Titled look and see, the work has been somewhat obscured from public view, which was not the original intention of the artist. But that’s all about to change.
In this sculpture, Hodges alternated areas of highly polished, cut-out, and painted stainless steel in a camouflage pattern that does not so much hide as fundamentally transform your perception of this space.
“We are delighted by the opportunity, through the museum’s Public Art Initiative, to share this wonderful work from our collection with the broader community thanks to our friends at the Richardson Olmsted Campus,” said Albright-Knox Deputy Director Joe Lin-Hill. “This playful sculpture by Jim Hodges was conceived and first installed as public art, and a more public location on the Elmwood Avenue Cultural Corridor is an ideal location for it. We are thrilled to work with our partners to provide engaging, thought-provoking public artworks for students, residents, and visitors to enjoy.”
Mirrored surfaces (on look and see), the artist explained “bring the viewer into the experience . . . and your location becomes in question. The images are created by who’s seeing it. It’s always going to be changing.”
“The Richardson Olmsted Campus is very excited to continue bringing exceptional public art to our Olmstedian landscape,” said Richardson Olmsted Campus Executive Director Mark Mortenson. “This historical landscape was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted to bring beauty to the site and provide spaces for reflection and healing. By partnering with our friends at the Albright-Knox, we have the pleasure of sharing with our community modern installations that reflect and complement the grounds’ original intentions. We welcome the public to enjoy the harmony between old and new on their next visit to the South Lawn at the Richardson Olmsted Campus!”
Images of the sculpture courtesy Albright-Knox and Richardson-Olmsted Campus