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Albright-Knox's expanding public art campaign brings 'Tanglewood' to Amherst

Amherst is getting tangled up in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery's campaign to bring art to the community.

Town and gallery officials have tentatively agreed to install Shayne Dark's "Tanglewood," a cluster of logs painted bright blue, in Bassett Park.

The piece, which previously was displayed at the Albright-Knox and at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, would be the first to come to Amherst as part of the gallery's public art initiative.

"I really love the piece. I think that it's a beautiful piece. And it's an exciting piece," Amherst Supervisor Brian J. Kulpa said. "Hopefully it's something the community can enjoy."

The gallery's public-private venture has seen about 20 sculptures, murals and other works of art put in place across metro Buffalo. Well-known pieces include "Shark Girl" at Canalside and Robert Indiana's "NUMBERS ONE through ZERO" on the Outer Harbor.

The public art initiative began in 2014. It's meant to take art outside the gallery's walls and into the public sphere.

The gallery previously has hosted works of art on its grounds, such as Nancy Rubins' 60-foot-tall explosion of silver canoes. But this campaign, which is supported by the City of Buffalo and Erie County along with private donors and gallery funds, is more strategic and far-reaching.

It has a steady stream of money and a dedicated staffer, said Aaron Ott, curator of public art for the gallery.

The pieces also have included a floral mural going up on the side of downtown's Sinclair Building and a series of portraits of African-American leaders on a concrete wall on the East Side.

A giant mural blooms in Buffalo — 6½ stories tall

Some earlier works incorporated the suburbs, such as Jenny Kendler's ReWilding New York, which urged people to take seeds from 10 honor boxes scattered throughout the area and plant them in their communities.

But few large-scale pieces have been introduced outside Buffalo, and that's something the gallery wanted to change, Ott said.

Officials from the Albright-Knox and the town explored a few different locations in Amherst before settling on Bassett Park. Ott said gallery leaders liked the gentle, rolling hills and mature-growth trees at the park, and the fact that it regularly hosts concerts and other cultural activities.

"Shayne's work really deals with this kind of intersection of natural and unnatural landscapes," he said.

Kulpa said the town wanted the piece displayed somewhere that is well used by the public.

Ott said Tanglewood is a favorite with the public.

Exhibition transforms Botanical Gardens into a temporary art gallery

It was displayed for several years at the Albright-Knox before the artist installed it on the lawn of the Botanical Gardens in Lackawanna as part of a five-month exhibit, “Shayne Dark: Natural Conditions.”

The gallery arranged to acquire it to display it as part of its public art initiative. After a previously arranged exhibition in Brooklyn, the piece returned to Buffalo and is in storage awaiting installation in Amherst.

"A lot of people would say, 'Where is that blue thing that was at the Albright?'" Ott said, adding, "It caused a stir and people really liked it."

Ott will discuss the plans for the piece with the Amherst Town Board at a work session Monday afternoon. The board is set to vote at its regular meeting later that evening to spend $9,820 to construct the concrete pad on which the artwork will sit. The town would keep the piece through 2024, according to Amherst's agreement with the gallery.

Ott said he's optimistic, if the spending is approved, that the artist could install the piece sometime in late October. He said Dark would take it apart and reconstruct the piece in its new setting.

"It's different every time he installs it," Ott said.


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