This summer, Canalside proved itself as a popular and lucrative venue for concerts. And this weekend, as the University at Buffalo's "Fluid Culture" series officially kicks off, the increasingly popular waterfront park will transform into a kind of outdoor museum.
Already, five installations by Buffalo artists dot the Canalside landscape, ranging from Jason Seely's floating bedroom at the commercial slip and Scott Bye's spiraling sculpture made from wooden crate fencing to Michael Bosworth's concrete towers embedded with pinhole cameras.
And on Sunday, dance will enter the "Fluid Culture" stream, with performances of two works by Toronto-based choreographer Gerry Trentham. Amy Taravella, founder of the Alt Theater and a collaborator with Trentham on the upcoming Alt performance of "The Four Mad Humors," will perform a solo piece called "Water Body" at 5 p.m.
Then, for Sunday's main event at 5:15 p.m., several kayakers will take to the water to perform Trentham's "Boat Dance," an unorthodox piece of nautical choreography meant to draw attention to the waterfront itself and to highlight the intersection between the city's culture and water.
"We've got all these tremendous water resources, but we don't necessarily feel connected to them all the time," said exhibition co-organizer Justin Read. "That's why we wanted to get local artists to build installations near waterfronts as a way to draw people to them and maybe form new relations with the water."
Other Canalside installations include Laura Garofolo's "Flow Wall Pavilion," a sort of temporary residence made from fiberglass, epoxy resin and wood; a series of "Rain Baskets" fashioned from recycled materials by Elizabeth Dee Heifferon; and a "Movable Garden" by Ridgeway, Ont.-based artist and past Beyond/In Western New York participant Warren Quigley.
These temporary "Fluid Culture" installations and performances can be considered something of a test run for Canalside's potential as public art exhibition space.
The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., which has expressed an interest in bringing public art and performances to the site, appointed an art selection committee last year. That committee includes Albright-Knox Art Gallery Director Louis Grachos, National Gallery of Art curator Molly Donovan, UB curator Sandra Q. Firmin, former News art critic Richard Huntington, Jean Knox and ECHDC chairman Jordan Levy.
For Read, the series signals another step in the evolution of Buffalo's waterfront from an undeveloped stretch of land where no one deigned to go to a thriving public space.
"A decade ago, that wasn't an area you really went to. And now, we've talked to people after having the artists build their installations down there, and they say it feels like a place where people should be," Read said.
"It's definitely about being next to the lakes, being next to the Erie Canal and really owning that waterfront in the sense that it has a part in their everyday lives."
"Fluid Culture" dance performances
WHEN: 5 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Canalside, Erie Canal Harbor Central Wharf