Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by Albright-Knox Art Gallery Peggy Pierce Elfvin Director Dr. Janne Siren, City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Chairman of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation Robert Gioia, Buffalo & Erie County Public Library Director Mary Jean Jakubowski, members of the Erie Arts and Cultural Advisory Board, and community members at Canalside to unveil Shark Girl, a new public work of art. Shark Girl joins the recent Tape Art installation at the Downtown Library as the initial artworks in the Public Art Initiative, a unique collaboration between Erie County and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery that will place varying forms of artwork in public places throughout Erie County.
“The unveiling of Shark Girl represents the next step in a burgeoning Public Art Initiative that will bring exciting, interesting, and thought-provoking public art to all corners of Erie County, and brings the resources of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery to bear for the benefit of all residents,” said Poloncarz. “While not everyone can get to the Art Gallery, public art is here for all to enjoy and I would like to thank Dr. Siren, Public Art Curator Aaron Ott, and the Albright-Knox for joining Erie County to make this happen. Their vision, commitment, and creativity will bring enjoyment, stimulate discussion, and enrich the lives of all of us.”
Shark Girl is the work of artist Casey Riordan Millard, and appears in nearly all of Millard’s sculptures, drawings, and paintings. Shark Girlhas been described as “a blend of whimsy and alarm, half Lewis Carroll’s Alice, half great white shark.” The 6x6x3 sculpture is made of painted fiberglass and has an accompanying seat built in to her base in order for art lovers and sightseers to take pictures with her. Tape Artfeatured the installation of “Buffalo Caverns”, a massive, temporary mural-style drawing made with painter’s tape on the exterior walls of the Downtown Library. The installation was begun on August 17 and completed on August 21; it will be on display through August 29.
“I want to extend my sincerest thanks to County Executive Poloncarz, Deputy County Executive Tobe, and our Erie County Legislators for making this partnership possible. Their dedication and commitment to the growth and development of our region both as a destination for tourists, and as an outstanding place to live, work and grow is commendable and I am delighted that AK joins them in this effort,” said Siren.“I would also like to thank Mayor Brown and the members of the Common Council for their commitment to this Initiative, and for their support which will help to accelerate development of this project for the entire community.”
“Public art is a highly cost-effective way of driving and expanding our economic revitalization efforts in Buffalo,” said Mayor Byron Brown, noting that he allocated funding in support of the newly hired Albright Knox Art Gallery Public Curator who is now working to further stimulate Buffalo’s public art program. “Today’s unveiling at Canalside – one of Buffalo’s newest waterfront destinations – is a reflection of how we are aggressively exploring new ways to integrate public art into new development. I thank the Albright Knox and members of the Buffalo Arts Commission for moving this project forward. It adds greatly to the momentum underway in Buffalo, complementing the $4.4 billion in new economic development activity by strategically placing public art in places that will draw more interest and traffic from city residents and visitors.”
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.”
Under the Public Art Initiative, Erie County funds the salary of a Public Art Curator at the Albright-Knox to oversee the Initiative’s direction, while the Albright-Knox Art Gallery commits a portion of its endowment annually to purchase works of art for public display. The art works are in a variety of media and will be seen in communities all across Erie County, including the City of Buffalo, which has joined Erie County in investing in the Initiative.
Other works under the Public Art Initiative are planned for the fall, including projects incorporating billboards and involving the creation of an “arena painting” with nationally-known (and Buffalo-born) artist Charlie Clough. Details on how the public can participate in the painting will be announced in September.