A trip to a hermetic, white-walled art gallery during Buffalo's brief and brilliant summers rarely seems as enticing as the sun-soaked alternatives.
But for culture-lovers among us, a switch flips in late August, when thoughts of outdoor festivals and languid afternoons turn to the comfort of familiar indoor spaces.
Among them are the region's dozens of galleries and museums, each with a busy fall program of exhibitions and events designed to reactivate precincts of our brains that have lain dormant since spring and challenge us to think differently about the world.
This fall's worthy shows are far too many to list, but here are four to keep on your radar:
"Out of Sight! Art of the Senses," Nov. 4 to Feb. 4, 2018 in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 1285 Elmwood Ave. 882-8700 or albrightknox.org.
The term visual art, at least to describe what happens in most American museums in 2017, is outdated and inaccurate. Artists for ages have been using sound, touch, smell and even taste to challenge and expand viewers' perceptions, and this show explores their many strange inquisitions into the sensibilities of sense.
It will feature a variety of non-traditional or at least not exclusively visual artworks, including the return of Lucas Samaras' beloved mirror room, Robert Therrien's gargantuan table and chairs and Nam June Paik's 1993 installation "Piano Piece."
"David Schirm: All the Glad Variety," Sept. 22 to Nov. 3 in Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, 341 Delaware Ave. 854-1694 or hallwalls.org.
For more than 40 years, David Schirm, a professor in the University at Buffalo's visual studies department, has honed his own unique style of abstraction. Much of his work, presented in this career retrospective at Hallwalls that features 140 of his pieces, emerges from his experiences in the army during the Vietnam War.
It is, according to a Hallwalls statement, "an ongoing attempt to reach beyond the irony of intellectual comparisons toward a genuine sympathy for the land and people swept up and overwhelmed by the forces brought to bear upon them."
"Nancy Dwyer," through Oct. 18 in Nina Freudenheim Gallery, 140 North St. 882-5777 or ninafreudenheimgallery.org // "Western New York Collects: Nancy Dwyer," through Feb. 4 in the Castellani Art Museum, 5795 Lewiston Road, Niagara University.
In the local art world, the name of Nancy Dwyer -- an important member of the movement known as "The Pictures Generation" -- will always be tied up with those of her colleagues Cindy Sherman, Robert Longo and Charles Clough, with whom she founded Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center.
Though revered here, Dwyer has received somewhat less attention from local institutions than her more famous colleagues. That changes with these two exhibitions, which feature her cheeky, word-based paintings and sculptures that usually contain some kind of inherent contradiction. One 2016 silkscreen now on view in the Burchfield Penney Art Center, for instance, simultaneously spells "Welcome" and "Keep Out."
"Forging American: Art in the Workings of an Asian American Rust Belt," through Nov. 17 in Big Orbit Gallery, 30D Essex St. 856-2717, cepagallery.org.
Whether Buffalo is really experiencing a renaissance or simply telling a different story about its rebirth, the role of Asian immigrants in economic and cultural life of the city cannot be understated. It was, for many years, in this Rust Belt Cities and many others.
In an attempt to draw attention to the experiences of Asian Americans throughout the Rust Belt, Big Orbit Gallery is hosting a show featuring work by 17 artists exploring "relationships between contemporary Asian American identity and settlement in our Rust Belt cities."