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Sculptor Scott Bye runs wild in Buffalo Arts Studio

Like most artists, Scott Bye's ambitions dwarf his resources.

The Lockport-born artist, whose serpentine sculptures made from wooden pallet-toppers have appeared everywhere from Canalside to Silo City, has no studio and mostly works out of his small bedroom on the West Side.

That doesn't give him a lot of space to experiment. And the result, despite popular exhibitions in Big Orbit Gallery and Eleven Twenty Projects, has put him at risk of becoming a one-trick pony.

That risk has dissipated thanks to Buffalo Arts Studio, where Bye recently completed a four-week residency to create and install a series of new works tailor-made for its gallery on the fifth floor of the Trimain Building.

Instead of merely creating permutations on his well-established style -- sculptures of gargantuan grace that seem to have grown out of their surroundings like a particularly orderly species of fungus -- Bye has used the opportunity to push the boundaries of his artistic practice. Beyond his traditional work, the show includes pieces made from the remnants of computer-controlled wooden cutouts and clear, polycarbonate material.

Scott Bye's sculpture "Veneer Veneered," on view in Buffalo Arts Studio, was created using the leftovers from commercial, computer-controlled cutouts. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

On a recent Friday afternoon, he talked about the show, his chosen medium and the ways in which this opportunity has enabled him to spread his wings.

Question: What was it like working in Buffalo Arts Studio for four weeks?

Answer: I don't have a studio at this point, so building large things like these is pretty impossible for me to do day-to-day.

Bringing the material here and having four weeks to install, it was kind of like residency for me. It was really nice. I used the space like it was my own studio. I slept here, I ate here, I showered somewhere else. To be able to really dive into myself and find out what this material can do on so many different levels was rewarding to me.

Not only that but to actually start playing around with new materials like the [computer-controlled] cutouts, just getting back into exploring. There's not much exploring you can do when you've got a tiny little bedroom and you've got just models that you're making.

Scott Bye uses his preferred medium of cedar pallet-toppers in a new way in "Racked." (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Q: How did you settle on pallet-toppers as a medium?

A: I usually call them cedar fences, because they look more like a fence than anything. They use them to top off products that come on pallets and then they shrink-wrap them so they can stack more pallets on top of them.

As for the material and use, I've always been a big fan of it. [I've done] over a dozen different sculptures already. You can see that it's all seasoned in different colors. I like working with multiples of one object and having the opportunity to find out what that object can do, what it can become. The possibilities are endless.

Q: What techniques do you use to create your trademark pieces?

A: Over time, after building a bunch of these sculptures, I learned how to mix all of those skills together to create one fluid movement in a space. It's so wonderful taking something so rigid as a square fence and making it look so fluid. I get a real big kick out of that.

I put these together one at a time. To create something that's literally balancing on itself, I couldn't do in sections. It probably has 50-plus pounds of three-inch screws in it. It would be really neat to take an X-ray of this.

The transparency is kind of beautiful. It always reminds me of driving down a country road and passing a cornfield and seeing the rows as they go by.



What: "What Happens?", new work by Scott By
Where: Buffalo Arts Studio, 2495 Main St., Suite 500
When: Through Feb. 27
Admission: Free
Info: 833-4450 or


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