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At Buffalo Arts Studio, artists grapple with mortality, trauma

Kurt Von Voetsch has been fighting brain cancer for eight years.

That fight has entered a difficult new phase, and the artist is making no secret of it. The title of the Von Voetsch's new exhibition, opening Friday in Buffalo Arts Studio, is "Stage Four."

Von Voetsch's work, paired with assemblages by Rochester artists Heather Layton and Allen Topolski, is a messy array of sketches, drawings and fragments of paper that reflect the contents of his roiling psyche.

"His work pieces together gestural drawings and guttural utterances, forming a visual monologue that is both personal and universal," a Buffalo Arts Studio statement reads. "His process includes continually destroying and remaking objects, erasing any sense of time or history."

While there is plenty of clear psychic pain and trauma in Von Voetsch's work, viewers may find some relief in the drawings and sculptures of University of Rochester faculty members Layton and Topolski. Their exhibition, "Coping Mechanisms," features artworks designed to "function as imagined safeguards and safety-nets fashioned for the current social and political climate."

"Kurt Von Voetsch: Stage Four" and "Heather Layton and Allen Topolski: Coping Mechanisms" open with a reception at 5 p.m. Sept. 22 in Buffalo Arts Studio, 2495 Main St., Suite 500. The shows run through Nov. 3. Call 833-4450 or visit

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