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Deck the walls; Art exhibitions beckon visitors during holiday lull

For many artists and curators across Western New York, the week between Christmas and New Year's provides a brief lull between exhibitions and an opportunity to recharge their creative batteries for the busy spring season.

But for visitors back in town for the holidays, that same week provides one of the few opportunities they may have to check out Buffalo's diverse museum and gallery scene. Fortunately for them, plenty of worthy exhibitions remain on view through the coming week. If you find yourself still in the 716 come Tuesday morning, when most galleries and museums reopen after the holiday, here are a few can't-miss shows (out of many):

*"Victoria Sambunaris: Taxonomy of a Landscape," through Jan. 22 in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (1285 Elmwood Ave; 882-8700). This stunning exhibition of large-scale photographic prints (shot on film, not digitally) documents human intrusions into grand American landscapes. In this body of work, as beautiful as it is intelligent, Sambunaris has turned her wanderlust and her meticulous nature into the stuff of art. While you're at the Albright-Knox, also check out its excellent greatest-hits exhibition "The Long Curve" and "Full Color Depression," the engrossing, totally surprising exhibition of color photographs taken during the Great Depression.

*"Art in Craft Media," the biennial exhibition that each time seems to contain ever more art and ever less craft, contains a huge amount of worthy work. This ranges from Ani Hoover's zip-tied paper circles, which seem to have migrated off her canvases and into the third dimension, to Katherine Marsh's odd plywood construction -- a topographical map with actual topography. That's in the Burchfield Penney Art Center (1300 Elmwood Ave.; 878-6011) through Jan. 15.

*Also in the BPAC are two must-visit exhibitions featuring work by the museum's namesake Charles Burchfield, each on view through Feb. 26. These are "Weather Event," which contains Burchfield's painted and written reflections on the seasons, and "The Four Seasons in Salem," an exhibition of the artist's early work in the museum's wonderful rotunda space.

*After 120 years of relatively static and traditional displays, the Buffalo Society of Artists has decided to do something different for its annual catalog exhibition. So a trip to the University at Buffalo's Anderson Gallery (1 Martha Jackson Place) may be in order to check out what it has accomplished with a series of 11 installations. This show is in essence a rumination on what happens when artists push themselves past the edges of their comfort zones. Such attempts may not always be successful, but they are always laudable. Plus, the show gives visitors a chance to check out the beautiful glass-fronted Anderson, one of Buffalo's buried architectural gems.

*Allentown's art galleries are still hopping, with compelling work by the late Adele Cohen, a gifted but tortured artist, in Buffalo Big Print (78 Allen St.; 884-1777). Meanwhile, you can get a sense of what Western New York artists are creating at the ground level by checking a show of holiday work in the teensy Studio Hart (65 Allen St.; 536-8377) and an extension of the Buffalo Society of Artists show in Indigo Art (74 Allen St.; 984-9572)


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