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The Front Yard

Front Yard   

Once again I have conceived a wonderful thing… (, which caused me to thrill almost as greatly as the memorable evening of June 14, -) On my way to work I suddenly conceived the idea of composing rhythms + colors, not pictorially but abstractly, so as to suggest ideas. Having a psychological basis, it would appeal to even the untutored mind, + at the same time give the highest aesthetic enjoyment in the most cultured mind. With the proper instrument, these designs can be thrown upon a screen to a large audience who could watch and receive the same sensations as one listening to notes. —Charles Burchfield, September 2, 1915


The sweeping zinc facade of the Burchfield Penney Art Center is no longer just a wall. It’s a projection surface. Burchfield Penney Art Center’s galleries serve more than those who enter our building. The Front Yard is an exhibition gallery in the public space. In addition to a place to host performances and interactivity, it also cycles through exhibitions of work by video and sound artists.

Elmwood Avenue at Rockwell Road is no longer just another street corner. It’s the Front Yard at the Center—From sunset until sundown, image and sound will be presented in the Front Yard and from sunrise until sunset, the Front Yard becomes a sound-only environment. 

Artist Brian Milbrand and architect Brad Wales envisioned the transformation of the Burchfield Penney Art Center’s exterior into a backdrop for audio and image, turning the traditional notion of a gallery inside out. They imagined a public space for rotating exhibition to be curated, by the community, by curators, and sometimes even by the weather. To celebrate the opening of this space on October 18, 2013, we closed Elmwood Avenue in front of the Burchfield Penney for a community street party, At sunset (approximately 6:28 pm), witness the trio of projection towers turned on.

The Front Yard features the architectural addition of three 24-foot steel and glass-clad towers, each housing a projector. Details of paintings by Charles Burchfield from the Center’s collection: Moth and the Thunderclap (1961), Wind-blown Asters (1951) and Oncoming Spring (1954) are etched onto the stainless steel cladding of the sculptured units. The towers were designed by Isabella Brito under the direction of Brad Wales, RA as part of Small Built Works at the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning.


LPCiminelli, Inc. / Rigidized Metals Corporation / Buffalo State Communication Department / University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning

The Joy Legacy Foundation and Paula Joy & John Reinhold / Margaret L. Wendt Foundation / James & Joy Brandys / Gary & Willow Brost / Vogt Family Foundation / Buffalo Structural Steel Construction Corporation / Peter & Ilene Fleischmann / Mike Pratt, P.E. / Watts Architecture and Engineering / David & Jessica Brason / First Niagara Bank / Will Kelly / Cindy Abbott Letro & Francis M. Letro / Premier Wine & Spirits / Peter Vukelic