Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Shuffle Off to Buffalo: An Artsy Review of a City in Transition

 In the days of vaudeville, back in the 1920s, entertainers would usually want to include Buffalo on their circuit of theaters.
Buffalo was among the biggest markets in the country, one of the largest cities, and rich enough to have its own theater district, with several grand venues.
New York City was the big brother to the South, and got most of the attention, but the residents of Buffalo were proud of their City. And they wanted to be a cultural oasis, with theaters, museums and beautiful parks.
Once the Erie Canal was completed in 1825, Buffalo became a hub of commerce. It incorporated as a City in 1832, and by 1862, the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy was founded (years before the Metropolitan Museum in New York City).
That Academy eventually was transformed into the Albright-Knox Art Museum. a very respectable regional museum with a very good collection of modern and contemporary art.
But the Albright-Knox needed to expand as its collection grew, and the Museum launched an ambitious multi-million-dollar expansion.
With a generous donation of $65 million from financier (and Buffalo resident) Jeffrey Gundlach, they hired the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) headed by Shohei Shigematsu, with Executive Architect Cooper Robertson, to transform the museum.
OMA has added 30,000 square feet to the original museum, providing large spacious rooms for large contemporary paintings. With the new addition, Albright-Knox, now named Buffalo AKG Museum of Art, has a jewel box of a setting for some of its prize contemporary paintings, including 35 works by abstract painter Clyfford Still. Still is considered one of the leading abstract expressionist artists, and he donated many of his large master paintings to Buffalo AKG. Now they can all be viewed in three large galleries.
The addition and expansion have a light-filled bridge to the original collection, a nice transition between the neo-classical Greek structure of 1905 by EB Green.

contributed by John D. Delmar