Buffalo, NY – Albright-Knox Peggy Pierce Elfvin Director Dr. Janne Sirén and County Executive Mark Poloncarz unveiled a new public work of art at Canalside this afternoon. The work, entitled Shark Girl, by artist Casey Riordan, is among one of the first works to become part of the Albright-Knox Public Art Collection as part of an innovative partnership between the museum and the County of Erie. The partnership, known as the Public Art Initiative, seeks to enrich the lives of Erie County residents by placing significant works of art in public locations throughout the region. Erie County has helped fund the salary for a Public Art Curator at the Albright-Knox to oversee the initiative, and the AK has committed a portion of its endowment annually to purchase works of art in a variety of media that will surprise and delight residents across the area. Mayor Byron Brown and members of the Buffalo Arts Commission were in attendance at the unveiling, pledging additional financial support for the Public Art Initiative.
“I want to extend my sincerest thanks to County Executive Poloncarz, Deputy County Executive Tobe, and our Erie County Legislators for making this new partnership possible. Their dedication and commitment to the growth and development of our region both as a destination for tourists and an outstanding place to live, work, and grow is commendable, and I am delighted that the AK joins them in this effort,” Sirén said at the unveiling today. Poloncarz added, “Partnerships and new thinking are essential to moving Erie County and our region forward. The County’s investment in the Public Art Initiative demonstrates that our community has the creativity, innovation, and forethought to build vibrant public spaces that draw visitors and private investment. We can now spotlight cultural developments along with the economic developments that are transforming our area.”
Sirén went on to thank Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, members of the Buffalo Common Council, and members of the Buffalo Arts Commission. “Mayor Brown and members of the Common Council, thank you for your commitment to this initiative. Your support will help to accelerate development of the project for the benefit of this entire community. Thank you,” Sirén said. He continued, “Finally, thank you to Robert Gioia, our friends at Canalside, and the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation for being such gracious hosts of this wonderful new work of art.”
Sirén advised city and county residents to be on the lookout for some upcoming projects in surprising places over the coming months and announced a partnership with Lamar Advertising that will place a new public art project on billboards throughout the County, noting, “I won’t say any more for now, but start looking in the next few days. I want you all to discover and be delighted by this project! On behalf of Erie County and the AK, thank you to our colleagues at Lamar, Account Executive Todd Schaefer and General Manager Rick Dvorak.”
Speaking about the partnership, Schaefer said, “Lamar is excited to partner with the Albright-Knox on this project. From the expressways of downtown Buffalo and her suburbs to the rural roads throughout Erie County, the artwork will surely attract the eyes of millions of unsuspecting drivers, adding to the beauty of the County landscape while highlighting the power that billboards deliver as a media.”
In October, as many as 200 county residents will participate in the creation of an arena painting with nationally known Buffalo-born artist Charles Clough. The massive painting will be made on October 25 at the William E. Swan Auditorium at Hilbert College in Hamburg. The completed work will be installed in the newly renovated Hamburg Public Library in mid-December. Members of the public who would like to sign up to participate are asked to visit the Albright-Knox’s website for details.
Sirén also reminded the community to visit the Central Branch of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library to see Buffalo Caverns, a temporary public art installation by Tape Art, a collective of artists based in Providence, Rhode Island. The public is invited to help remove the mural on Friday, August 29, at noon.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Shark Girl is the work of Casey Riordan (American, born 1973). The character appears in nearly all of her paintings, drawings, and sculptures. Shark Girl is a funny, bittersweet girl trapped in an awkward state; a blend of whimsy and alarm, she is half Lewis Carroll’s Alice, half great white shark. Here, in Riordan’s first public sculpture, Shark Girl patiently waits, legs daintily crossed, hands folded, for her companion seat to become occupied. Everyone is encouraged to take a moment to join her. Riordan earned her BFA from Ohio University in 1994. Her work can be found in numerous public and private collections, including those of the Cincinnati Art Museum, the University of Cincinnati, and Ohio University. Riordan will visit Buffalo in the fall.
Charles Clough has taught art at Columbia University and the Rhode Island School of Design and been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation. His paintings are included in the collections of more than 70 museums, including those of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, which holds more than twenty works by the artist. Clough currently lives in East Aurora.