Updated: October 10, 2010, 9:26 AM
Shortly before 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 26, A.J. Fries and Michael Bosworth put on football jerseys inscribed with the names of local artists, loaded up a car with hot dogs and cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, and made their way to theAlbright-Knox Art Gallery parking lot.
For the next three hours, in a little demonstration meant to show their fierce and unflagging fandom for the ongoing art show known asBeyond/In Western New York, the two local artists hosted a parade of visitors who flocked to the Museum District for the day’s series of opening celebrations.
Though they were forced to take the show into the Albright-Knox courtyard after a Buffalo State College security guard busted them for dispensing alcohol in public, they had made their point well enough. Firstly, as Fries pointed out in a call to local sports radio station WGR, the event served to illustrate how disenchanted Bills fans might redirect their energy in the face of another inevitable loss (against New England, in that case). And second, the very unofficial event demonstrated just how many people — even those like Fries who are not part of the exhibition — are getting in on the energy and momentum created by Beyond/In Western New York.
In addition to Fries’ and Bosworth’s tongue-in-cheek tailgating performance, an assortment of worthy exhibitions and events that fall outside the Beyond/In purview have recently opened or lie just ahead. And in the interest of highlighting the depth and variety of Buffalo’s art scene, allow us to briefly shift the spotlight from the mammoth art show of the moment and onto the activity swirling just beyond the “Beyond”:
- Nathan Naetzker, who exhibited an engrossing, loaded series of oil paintings in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery during the 2007 version of Beyond/In, opened his solo show of new abstract work at Artspace (1219 Main St.) on Oct. 1. With this show, Naetzker is expanding his repertoire beyond realism, saying that he wanted to “add the language of abstraction to my repertoire, the way a musician moves from classical to jazz or country to rock.”
- Two very different gallery spaces in locations five miles apart are home to a pair of exhibitions focusing on color — and the lack thereof. Nina Freudenheim Gallery, that compact, white-walled gem of a space inside the Hotel Lenox (140 North St.), is hosting “Plucking the Rainbow,” an exhibition where color takes center stage in the work of internationally respected artists Ellen Carey, Amanda Means, Robert Swain, Ethan Bosivert and many others.
Meanwhile, Villa Maria College’s small gallery (240 Pine Ridge Road), is home to an exhibition called “Colorless,” culled from the extensive collection of Gerald Mead and composed entirely of work in black and white from a who’s who of artists who have worked in Western New York. They include Robert Blair, Harvey Breverman, Charles Burchfield, Adele Cohen, Robert Longo, Milton Rogovin and Hollis Frampton.
- Mead’s collection also serves as the inspiration for a fascinating show of miniature art, “Thresholds of Visibility,” on view in Studio Hart (65 Allen St.). It contains work by Beyond/In participants past and present, including oil painters Amanda Besl and Bruce Adams, sculptor and kitsch collector Alfonso Volo and many others with an affinity for the tiny.
- At El Buen Amigo (114 Elmwood Ave.), not normally a gallery space, work by accomplished local artists Kevin Kegler, Jim Allen and Ben Perrone (whose moving piece about war was recently exhibited in the Burchfield Penney Art Center) will be on view through Oct. 30 in a show called “Art of Violence.”
In addition to all that, the work of the late landscape painter Chuck Wong is on view in the reconceived Benjamin Gallery (419 Elmwood Ave.); photographs by Viktoria Ciostek are up at Betty’s restaurant (370 Virginia St.); ZGM Fine Arts (1045 Elmwood Ave.) features an exhibition of “3-D paintings” by Matthew Weaver, and paintings by Cheryl Wnuk Klinckare on view at Quaker Bonnet Eatery, 175 Allen St. And the list goes on.
Though the quality of these shows is sure to vary from venue to venue, it seems clear that the non-“Beyond” art spaces of Western New York have upped their game. They’re taking full advantage of the energy and enthusiasm created by the recently launched international biennial.
We’re all familiar with the cliché about a rising tide lifting all boats. But judging only by the sheer profusion of activity in the galleries and art spaces of Western New York, it seems that tide is coming in.