Meet “Shark Girl,” Buffalo’s newest piece of public art.
She’s casually perched on a rock at Canalside, wearing a blue dress with a red sash and looking perfectly prim and proper. Except for the menacing shark head, that is.
This disconcerting public sculpture, unveiled this afternoon, is the work of Cincinnati-based artist Casey Riordan Millard and the fist permanent piece of public art to emerge from a collaboration between the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Erie County. It follows last week’s installation of a temporary mural created with painters’ tape on the side of the Central Library that will be on view through Saturday.
Erie County and the Albright-Knox also announced plans for two more public art projects this fall, including a partnership with Lamar Advertising that will feature art on area billboards. Another project will feature a large-scale painting created by members of the community under the supervision of Buffalo-born artist Charles Clough in Hilbert College’s Swan Auditorium in Hamburg on Oct. 25. The painting will be installed on the side of the Hamburg Public Library in mid-December.
The sculpture at Canalside, which includes a spot for visitors to sit beside the Shark Girl to relax or take a picture, is Millard’s first public sculpture. The gallery describes the artist’s figure, which has been featured in her art since about 2004, as “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.”
At today’s unveiling, city and county officials joined the gallery’s director and curators to sing the praises of the Public Art Initiative.
“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,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said in a statement. “We can now spotlight cultural developments along with the economic developments that are transforming our area.”
[Also worth noting: Shark Girl has a Twitter account, of course. Because why wouldn't she?]