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Echo Art Fair draws crowd to East Side factory on chilly weekend

Despite the weekend's unseasonably cold weather, the latest iteration of the Echo Art Fair drew healthy crowds to the former American Axle plant on the East Side, now owned by OSC Manufacturing and Equipment Services.

"Honestly, it surpassed anyone's expectations," said fair founder and lead organizer E. Frits Abell. "The crowds surpassed anything we've had before. The overall buzz about the event was incredibly positive, particularly Friday night when we had the opening party."

Abell said 600 people attended the fair's preview night on May 13. The fair drew 1,500 people on May 14 and "at least double that" on May 15, he added.

More than in previous years, the fair - which included many Instagram-ready site-specific art installations and architectural pieces by University at Buffalo faculty - exploited social media channels to entice potential fairgoers. Pictured below is one such installation, a graphic mural by the Buffalo artists known as Team Razor Wire:

Installation by Team Razor Wire at the Echo Art Fair. (Colin Dabkowski/Buffalo News)

Though its founder described this weekend's fair as an unequivocal success, he wouldn't say for certain if the event would continue in the future.

"Doing it again would require a lot of the necessary components, the most important of which is the venue. It's getting harder and harder to find venues like this in Buffalo, because they're being converted," Abell said, suggesting an every-other-year approach might be best given the challenges of organizing the event. "I would put it at a good 85 percent chance that we would do it again."

Emily Tucker of the Benjaman Gallery said she was pleased with the turnout and said sales at her gallery's booth were brisk, especially during the VIP preview event. Asked what accounted for the fair's popularity this year, she said it might have something to do with a New York City preview exhibition fair organizers' held in March and the curiosity factor of buildings such as the OSC site.

"I thought the venue was the best it's ever been. I felt like there was probably more people there in general, and definitely on the VIP night," she said. " I would love to participate again next year and to take it out of town again."

Below are a few shots of the architectural installations in the former factory curated by Jordan Geiger and site-specific artworks curated by Rachel Adams:

"No Frills," a non-structural, terra cotta-ornamented column by Ang Li:

Ang Li's architectural installation in the former American Axle plant on East Delavan Avenue was a photogenic draw at this year's Echo Art Fair. (Colin Dabkowski/Buffalo News)

Dana Tyrrell:

An art exhibition at the Echo Art Fair by Dana Tyrrell. (Colin Dabkowski/Buffalo News)

A closer look at Dana Tyrrell's exhibition for Echo Art Fair in the old American Axle plant. (Colin Dabkowski/Buffalo News)

"Square Weave," by Ani Hoover:

"Square weave," an Echo Art Fair installation by Ani Hoover. (Colin Dabkowski/Buffalo News)

"Purple," by Virginia Melnyk:

(Colin Dabkowski/Buffalo News)

Email Colin Dabkowski at

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