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Art meets play in West Side swingset installation

In the early morning hours of Aug. 25, 2012, a dilapidated house at the corner of Auburn Avenue and Hoyt Street was destroyed by fire. The blaze left yet another pockmark on the already ravaged face of the neighborhood, where vacant lots have become a familiar part of the landscape.

But this week, the patch of dirt across the street from Buffalo's P.S. 45 International School will get a new lease on life as the site of the West Side's newest art project set to open Oct. 20 Oct. 25 from 5 to 7 p.m.

The piece, called "Full Circle" and created by artists Coryn Kemptser and Julia Jamrozik, is little more than a circular metal swing set. It twists the traditional structure of a swingset into a circle, forcing occupants to swing either toward or away from one another -- with enough space not to crash into one another.

According to curator Claire Schneider of CS1 Curatorial Projects, the project was created out of a desire to foster a sense of community and to bring Buffalo residents young and old into contact with conceptual art. The piece "comments on Buffalo’s artistic legacy, while providing a much-needed space to convene at a point in the city where all of these cultures and neighborhoods converge," she said.

"In our experience in Buffalo and elsewhere, playgrounds are also some of the only real mixing spots for people from different ethnic and social backgrounds," Jamrozik wrote in a statement. "We have an opportunity and an obligation to provide more of them in our city for the kids but also for the adults, to provide more opportunities where people from different walks of life can interact and get to know one another and to build community."

"Full Circle" is part of CEPA Gallery's long-planned West Side Lots public art program, which aims to match artists with empty plots of land in an effort to turn blighted areas into creative opportunities for residents and artists alike.

The project features several installations in various stages of development. They include a video installation at 44 Brayton St., a giant sculpture of a wooly mammoth at 34 Helen St., a pop-up sound garden at 1100 Niagara St., a community video project at 43 Lawrence St. and a series of projects throughout the neighborhood fostered by the art organization Project Grant.


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