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Look around and enjoy the beauty all around us

In an uncomfortably blunt but provoking column, Froma Harrop recently asked, “What makes art valuable?” Without even considering the question, “Enriching the cityscape,” a News editorial on Oct. 21, praised a county partnership with the Albright-Knox designed to place art in public spaces. Nonetheless, readers were assured that the project would “broaden horizons, generate discussions of what is art and give people reason to pause and think as they go about their lives.” Following an esoteric reference to “the unfortunate 1984 controversy over Green Lightning” and the need to “protect the public trust,” the editorial concluded with: “Ultimately, art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.”

Just as I paused to think about all of this, on Oct. 25, The News reported a groundswell of artistic activity that could raise questions about public funding.

Spontaneously, and without curatorial guidance, emerging artists in a local community publicly exhibited works with undercurrents of Dadaism, surrealism and pop art – 20th century movements that have been the mainstay of the Albright-Knox collection. Moreover, this new generation executed these assemblages with masterful attention to detail and consummate wit. I refer to the delightfully broadening and thoughtful meditation on the scarecrows of Clarence, “Stuffed shirts,” by columnist Susan Martin and photographer Sharon Contillion. To my eye, it was beautiful. Brava!

Albert Sterbak

Amherst