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Albright-Knox show delves into history of 'Shark Girl'

So you think you know "Shark Girl"?

The sculpture by Cincinnati-based artist Casey Riordan Millard is one of the most talked about, and almost certainly the most photographed, piece of public art in the history of Buffalo. Its appearance at Canalside in 2013 was met with the kind of enthusiasm Buffalonians generally reserve for quarterbacks or goalies. She has frequently been removed for repairs because fans have rubbed off too much of her lacquered surface, like a religious idol tarnished by centuries of fingerprints.

She was just the right mix of perplexing and comforting, playful and melancholy, to initiate a stream of phone-wielding locals and tourists to make her a featured part of their social media presence. But few know about her deep and complex history. That will change on May 27, when the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (1285 Elmwood Ave.) opens "Shark Girl: Never Quite There," an exhibition charting her evolution from a figment of Millard's addled imagination to the stuff of Buffalo legend.

"Ranging from some of her earliest representations of her signature character to newly imagined diorama-style installations, this exhibition presents the many facets of Shark Girl’s eccentric, flawed, and altogether extraordinary personality," a release from the gallery says. "Millard’s image of the half-shark half-girl originated in the early 2000s as a response to internalized anxiety and existential foreboding, a sense that she was not in control of her
 life."

The show includes works on paper, installations, paintings, small sculptures and other pieces of ephemera that will help  "Shark Girl" fans understand a bit more about their favorite piece of art. It was curated by the gallery's public art curator Aaron Ott.

Info: "Shark Girl: Never Quite There" is exhibited May 27 to Oct. 1 in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (1285 Elmwood Ave.). Admission is $6 to $12. Call 882-8700 or visit albrightknox.org.

email: cdabkowski@buffnews.com

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