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Public Art Abounds at Canalside with Addition of Plensa Sculpture

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Buffalo, NY  Today, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s Public Art Initiative—in partnership with Erie County and the City of Buffalo—unveiled the newest installation of public art at Canalside in downtown Buffalo. The artwork, Silent Poets by internationally acclaimed artist Jaume Plensa, is located on the Great Lawn at the Central Wharf, to be enjoyed by the more than one million visitors Canalside is expected to receive in 2015. The artwork will be in Buffalo through October 2016, with a visit by the artist scheduled for the fall of 2015. This project was made possible with generous support from the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC).

“Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation is honored to host Silent Poets at Canalside,” Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation Chairman Robert Gioia said. “Art attracts attention and public art, especially from an artist as world-renowned as Jaume Plensa, will draw even more visitors to Buffalo’s waterfront, stimulating conversation and transforming the look and feel of our vibrant environment. Shark Girl and Silent Poets are just the beginning of ECHDC’s collaboration with the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and we look forward to bringing additional public art to the waterfront.”

Peggy Pierce Elfvin Director Janne Sirén said, “I commend Erie County, the City of Buffalo, and the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation for their wonderful support in realizing this extraordinary project in our community. We live in an amazing place, one that deserves amazing public art. The AK is proud to be your partner as we build a region where people live, work, and grow—a community that we are all proud to call home. This new landmark will indeed be a beacon in many respects.”

Silent Poets, created in 2012, consists of two identical, internally lit, resin figures that sit hunched on platforms atop separate pillars. The two figures will face one another, symbolically conversing through changing colors—green, blue, yellow, purple—twenty feet above the bustling public area. The work was inspired by holy ascetics and philosophers who contemplated humanity and preached to crowds while seated atop pillars during the Byzantine Empire.

Plensa is one of the world’s foremost sculptors working in the public space, with more than thirty projects spanning the globe in such cities as Chicago, Dubai, London, Liverpool, Tokyo, Toronto, and Vancouver. Over the past twenty-five years, he has produced a rich body of work in both the studio and the public realm.

Spirituality and the soul have long been areas of exploration in Plensa’s work, withSilent Poets presenting a modern-day space for meditation and collective contemplation at Canalside. As Plensa explains, “The two silent figures are dreaming and talking with colors. They are sharing a silent conversation in the sky—a conversation from their hearts.”

The Public Art Initiative is an innovative partnership between the Albright-Knox and Erie County established in 2013. The City of Buffalo joined the partnership in 2014. The goal of the Initiative is to create spaces of dialogue where diverse communities have the ability to engage socially, actively respond, and cooperatively produce great public art that is capable of empowering individuals, creating stronger neighborhoods, and establishing Western New York as a critical cultural center.

Other recent projects by the AK Public Art Initiative include artist Casey Riordan's Shark Girl sculpture at Canalside; Tape Art’s 2014 installation of Buffalo Caverns, a massive, temporary mural-style drawing made with painter’s tape on the exterior walls of the Central Library in downtown Buffalo; artist Matthew Hoffman’sYou Are Beautiful billboard campaign throughout Erie County in a unique partnership with Lamar Advertising; and artist 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.

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