The Arts Legacy Project
The Arts Legacy Project (ALP) is a free, publicly accessible online database celebrating the artists, institutions, and movements that have played important roles in shaping this area’s vibrant arts community. This new program, in the planning stages for many years and finally launched in 2012, is made possible with generous funding from the John R. Oishei Foundation.
In building and compiling an encyclopedic trove of multimedia information about more than 4,000 visual, media, digital, literary, and performing artists (both living and deceased) and organizations (both currently active and defunct) with a significant connection to Western New York, this ongoing endeavor intends to provide a cohesive approach to understanding and contextualizing the rich and ever-changing cultural history of Buffalo. As the project continues to develop and grow, the ALP will make full use of the hypertextual quality of the Internet to suggest not only what resources the Burchfield Penney has in its collections and archives for any given artist, but ways in which he or she has intersected with other artists and local arts organizations, in the process reflecting the uniquely interdisciplinary, collaborative nature of living and making art in Western New York, as well as the points at which the region has influenced and been influenced by national and international trends.
Through the ALP, the Burchfield Penney hopes to document, preserve, and increase accessibility to our special collections and resources for the use of students, researchers, and scholars worldwide, in addition to casual users who want to enhance their understanding of our permanent collection. Among our major holdings are the archives of Charles E. Burchfield, Paul Sharits, Milton Rogovin, Martha Visser't Hooft, and Charles Cary Rumsey. Click here for more information on accessing these and other in-house resources.
In many cases, the artists and organizations we are profiling—particularly those active before the existence of the internet—have little or no other online presence. We believe that art history is embedded not just in world-renowned masterworks, but in anecdotes, conversations, career-changing chance encounters, handwritten letters, journals, blog posts, video footage in outmoded formats, faded newspaper clippings, photocopied exhibition notices, and other useful but difficult-to-access ephemera. Our ultimate goal is not just to commemorate the past but to serve as an incubator for the art and artists of coming generations. As such, we strive to be both keepers of the past and pioneers of the future.
NOTE: Given the scope and nature of the ALP database, entries are being added and revised on a frequent and regular basis. If you don’t find the profile you’re looking for today, please check back soon, or let us know what you need. If you are an artist with a past or present connection to Western New York and would like to be included in the database—or if you have updates or corrections for your existing profile—please contact us.
The Living Legacy Project
The Living Legacy Project (LLP) is one of the largest and most exciting initiatives within the Arts Legacy Project. Beginning in 2012, each year the curatorial staff of the Burchfield Penney selects a diverse “class” of 15 to 20 living artists from many disciplines and generations to represent the range of talents, skills, and creativity that characterizes our region.
For each LLP artist listed below, you will find not only biographical information but images and/or video footage of his or her work, a C.V., an artist statement, and other online resources where available. In addition, members of the Burchfield Penney staff conduct audio and/or video interviews exploring these artists' education, influences, and motives. They also discuss their connection to Buffalo, reveal why they work in their chosen disciplines or media, reflect on key WNY organizations they have been involved with, and offer advice for emerging artists.
The LLP serves to add context to our permanent collection and disseminate otherwise hard-to-find materials to online researchers. At the same time, it is a tool providing professional development for working artists who may benefit from the resources of a major museum with a national and international presence. Still in its early stages, the project is an experiment in real time as we continue to develop new and better ways to record the legacies of living artists in the digital age.
WNY Artists in the Living Legacy Project (released):
Priscilla DeVantier Bowen
Katherine R. Gaudy
Paul T. Hogan
John M. Opera
Sylvia L. Rosen
Marvin Bjurlin is a Distinguished Teaching Professor emeritus of visual arts and new media at the State University of New York at Fredonia.