In Buffalo’s ever-expanding galaxy of art galleries, fairs and mega-parties, one phenomenon that has grown popular in other cities has yet to make a significant mark.
The pop-up warehouse show – usually a one-night event organized by a single artist or like-minded collective in an out-of-the-way space – has only made an occasional appearance on the city’s otherwise bustling visual arts scene.
But with a new show opening Friday night, four local artists hope to change that.
Chuck Tingley, Max Collins, Thomas Webb and the artist known as OGRE (Matthew Grote) will open their one-off group show “Fragments” at 6 p.m. Friday on the fourth floor of the Hi-Temp Fabrication building on Perry Street. That space, a raw concrete room broken up by several hulking columns, has been offered to a number of local artists by arts supporter and business owner John McKendry over the past few years.
For Tingley, perhaps best known to Buffalonians from his work with Collins and OGRE on a popular mural on the side of a building on the 500 block of Main Street, opportunities to show work in Buffalo’s endless trove of gritty warehouses don’t come up nearly as often as they should. In addition to giving these artists room to show off their work in a nontraditional setting, the show is also an attempt to ignite more interest in independently organized pop-up events.
Instead of waiting to hear back from established galleries that plan their exhibitions years in advance, Tingley said, “You gotta do what you want to do and make it happen in the meantime. I am surprised. As much art as there is going on, there should be even more pop-up shows.”
The four separate bodies of work in “Fragments” are linked together by their inclusion of portraiture as well as a shared desire to produce accessible art.
Tingley’s new series, called “Nothing Lasts Forever,” features human figures on found objects like window frames and doors. Collins’ work in this show, an extension of his ongoing series “No More Talking,” includes striking portraits of people suspended in the sickly glow of their computer screens and is meant as a commentary about alienation in the digital age. OGRE’s work in the show, drawn from a gargantuan body of street art and cartoon-influenced paintings and other work, focuses on highly stylized and often surreal portraits of people close to him. Finally, Webb’s work, a collection of black-and-white ink-wash portraits called “Projections,” explores what the artist sees as an innate propensity for evil.
Aside from the portrait theme, these artists – who all met through Marcus Wise’s alternative 464 Gallery on Amherst Street – share a desire to produce work with broad public appeal. Collins, whose public artwork in Buffalo has become practically unavoidable, sees the public-minded philosophy of his fellow exhibitors as a signal of shifting attitudes about art in the city.
“There’s kind of a similar energy in doing public work and doing your own [pop-up] shows, where it’s just like, make it happen. There’s all this new energy of people finally invested in Buffalo asking, what can I do? You don’t have to wait to hear back from Hallwalls and be accepted into a show in 2015. You can finally do stuff. I think there’s that accountability factor. What’s the city want to see? We want to see more warehouse shows. OK, let’s do a warehouse show.”
OGRE echoed Collins’ sentiments and stressed the importance of taking advantage of Buffalo’s unique place in the art world and its low economic barriers.
“We had to work with the building owner and the people that manage that space, but we have way more control over everything. And it’d probably be a lot harder to do something like that in New York City,” he said. “If you can do it here, why not?”
When: 6 to 11 p.m. Friday
Where: Hi-Temp Fabrication, 79 Perry St.