The Artists Are Among Us

Monday, June 4, 2012

This being my first blog posting for new web engagement at the Burchfield Penney, I am fortunate to have the backdrop of The Artist Among Us.

Members, members, members … who would have imagined that there were so many engaged artist members at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. Working on the exhibition has been a reaffirming experience for the staff and has confirmed our identity as the museum for Western New York.

Not necessarily known for outbursts of positivity, I will take a break from my measured ways and say something silly, like maybe we can lobby the mayor to change Buffalo from the City of Good Neighbors to the City of Good Artists. Many people have asked the question of what the focus could be in an exhibition of membership, and this is just the classic example of not being able to see the forest for the trees.

The point and the hope that we were working for was that the arts have a way of engaging people at a multitude of access points, and there is no better example of this than a populous show. The work of A.J. Fries, unquestionably one of WNY’s most serious, developed and dedicated artists hangs on a wall across from Dylan Heyworth as well as Louisa, John and Adam Huston, the youngest emerging artists in the exhibition.

It is the opportunity to see work by artists previously unknown to us at the museum that is possibly the greatest reward. In the Burchfield Penney's only previous members' exhibition (our last exhibition in our Rockwell Hall galleries on view from December 2007 – March 2008), we discovered work by artist not yet known to us and it resulted in inspiration for a future exhibition.

What I am referring to is work of Felice Koenig which provoked a conversation about the way artists work; later when looking at the cakes of Carolyn Panzica, the connections became obvious and the grounding for our exhibition An Overabundance of Detail was the result.

This year there are too many artists who are having this impact on us, but if limited to name just one it would be Jason Seeley an artist whose work was unknown by most of us, but his work is causing many of us close to the exhibition to stop while walking by his painting and pause. This pause is what we are always hoping to inspire in visitors to the museum, a moment of appreciation when moving though a long list of daily concerns. This is what cultural organizations can and should achieve when most successful.

— Scott Propeack

Email Scott at



Scott Propeack
Scott Propeack is the Associate Director, Exhibitions and Collections at the Burchfield Penny Art Center, where he is responsible for the exhibition program and manages collections-based projects. The exhibition program consists of over 25 on-site exhibitions in all media areas and relates to a public collection of over 40,000 objects. He has spearheaded the digitization of both static and time-based content for a variety of electronic interfaces, databases and web-presentations.