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Albright-Knox’s Public Art Initiative Will Add New Mural at 710 Main Theatre

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Buffalo, NY – Today, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s Public Art Initiative announced a new collaboration with Shea’s Performing Arts Center to create a mural on the wall of the 710 Main Theatre, currently owned and operated by Shea’s. The mural will be designed by artists Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn, a Baltimore-based artist team that works to transform public spaces into playful and vibrant experiences.

The 710 Main Theatre is a prominent cornerstone of the Buffalo Theater District, with an expansive block-long wall that stretches between Main and Pearl Streets at Tupper Street. The artists, collectively known simply as “Jessie and Katey,” working with this wonderfully conspicuous wall, will make a noticeable impact in the city.

Anthony Conte, President of Shea’s Performing Arts Center said, “We are excited to be collaborating with the Albright-Knox Art Gallery on this project and very anxious to see this mural become a feature in Buffalo’s Theatre District.”

The Buffalo Theater District has been home to many prominent murals in the past, but changes in ownership, lack of direct oversight, and myriad economic struggles have all taken their toll. The production of a striking mural that is an unmistakable expression of our new visual culture—one that simultaneously resonates with the history of the location as it points to our prosperous future—will be a monumental addition to both the district and the AK Public Art Initiative.

“Buffalo’s Theater District is poised for a big opening of another kind as our Public Art Initiative debuts with a building-sized mural that will draw outsized attention to the wall side of 710 Main Street,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “As a huge canvas, the wall will be transformed into a stunning work of art that will be seen by thousands of people each day and will provide an emphatic statement on the vibrancy of the arts in Erie County.”

“The Albright-Knox Art Gallery is delighted to be partnering with Shea’s Performing Arts Center,” said Janne Sirén, Peggy Pierce Elfvin Director of the Albright-Knox. “This bold mural will be a dramatic and wonderful addition to our Public Art Initiative, and will continue Buffalo’s transformation into a vibrant and energetic place to live, work, and grow.”

Jessie and Katey met while at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 2001.

Since 2011, they have been creating large-scale, public murals. The socially engaging nature of creating art for the public is a driving force in their practice. Inspired by the architectural surfaces of each environment, their dynamic paintings often curve around corners and spill onto the ground. Their work explores themes of movement and symmetry inspired by bold color combinations, patterns in nature, and woven textiles.

They have been awarded two PNC Transformative Grants to bring their striking geometric paintings to Baltimore. Their artwork earned the team residencies with the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine, and the John Michael Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  

In May 2015, the artists were selected for the New York Department of Transportation’s 191st Street Subway Tunnel Beautification Project. In addition, they worked with Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program to create Summer Kaleidoscope, a 400-foot-long temporary floor mural and pop-up park.  

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s Public Art Initiative is a partnership between the Albright-Knox and Erie County established in 2013 to enhance our shared sense of place and cultural identity in the urban and suburban landscapes of Western New York. The City of Buffalo joined the partnership in 2014.

Other recent Public Art Initiative projects include Kaarina Kaikkonen’s installation We Share A Dream, currently on view at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport; Jenny Kendler’s Milkweed Dispersal Balloons and ReWilding New York (Community Seed Stations), a two-fold work that took place over the summer of 2015; Shayne Dark’s 2015 exhibition Natural Conditions and residency at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens; Jaume Plensa’s Silent Poets, on view through October 2016 at Canalside; Casey Riordan's Shark Girl; Tape Art’s Buffalo Caverns, a massive, temporary mural made with low-adhesive drawing tape on the north wall of the Central Library branch of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library; a billboard- and sticker-based iteration of Matthew Hoffman’s You Are Beautiful project, made possible in part through a partnership with Lamar Advertising; and Charles Clough’s collaboratively produced Hamburg Arena Painting, which is installed in the newly constructed wing of the Hamburg Public Library. The Public Art Initiative has also distributed 30,000 art kits to students throughout Erie County.

This mural is the result of a partnership between Shea’s Performing Arts Center, the 710 Main Theatre, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery with generous support from Gregory and Sandra Norwood.

The Public Art Initiative is supported by the County of Erie, the City of Buffalo, and Margie and Sandy Nobel. 

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