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With the coming of David Midland as Artpark's executive director last year, committee selection of art works may be a thing of the past. Midland did something that the park has sorely needed for the past five years: He brought in an experienced curator to choose and coordinate the sculpture program at the park. David Katzive is Midland's choice for the three year post. Katzive, who served as the park's visual arts director from 1974 to 1976 and then as consultant in 1979, has put together what promises to be an exciting season. With artists working in everything from mosaic tile to warring robots, it may even revive some of Artpark's waning reputation as a place for artistic experiment.

"We have to try to do things quite differently," says Katzive. "Historians mark very clearly the beginning of the decay of the Greeks -- when they started copying themselves. That's when the danger signal sounds and that's what we can't do here."

To explode the notion that Artpark is only a seasonal event -- a summer camp for artists -- he brought some artists into the park in the winter for projects that span the seasons. Photographer JoAnn Verberg and poet James Moore, for example, will collaborate on an art work executed in the winter and spring and then displayed in summertime. There are fewer cozy one-month projects, that come and go like the summer breezes. New York City artist Reeva Potoff's project of artificial vegetation will continue over two years.

Katzive says that the special ecology and history of the park's setting will be a theme for a number of artists. Peter Richards will finish up a freshwater spring that he started in 1987. Del Geist will float monumental slabs of stone. Mags Harries will focus attention on "perception stations" that deal with the ecology of the place. And Dublin artist Dorothy Cross will suspend a cascade of metal fish in the spillway leading to the Niagara River.

Other artists include Donald Harvey, Louis Hock, KenKaplan and Ted Krueger, Tim Main, and the season's resident humorist, W. Steve Rucker, who will erect a field of striped poles called "Barber Crop Quartet."

All of these artists will be on hand when the season begins on Tuesday, with most finishing their projects in mid-July. What looks like a fairly peaceful season will come to an abrupt end on the evening of Sept. 1 when Mark Pauline's Survival Research Laboratories will set mechanical giants loose to destroy one another. It's violent, says Katzive, like movie special effects, only live.

"It's as if you took Ransomville Speedway and turned it over to artists for an evening." The sculptures in progress can be viewed from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. -- Richard Huntington

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