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New Burchfield Penney shows highlight environment in The Buffalo News

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Gifted Buffalo artist and educator Jozef Bajus creates intricate and often graceful sculptures using everyday materials most of us would toss into the garbage without a second thought.

In Bajus' hands, what seems irreversibly degraded to most of us - yellowed sheets of paper, discarded roofing material, tattered clothes - becomes supremely ordered and imbued with new meaning. His pieces, even the darkest ones, seem to breathe on their own. They feel much more "alive" than a hunk of stone or steel, and their organic nature seems to communicate something about the intrinsic value of his chosen material.

Fourteen of those sculptures will go on view Sept. 9 in the Burchfield Penney Art Center (1300 Elmwood Ave.) in "Jozef Bajus: Nothing is Going Away." The show, curated by the Burchfield Penney's associate director and chief curator Scott Propeack, runs through Jan. 29.

“I’m responding to what’s going on around the globe. Most of the leftovers in the installation were collected from local manufacturers, including felt, paper, wire and leather,” Bajus said in a statement. “The concept is to transform materials on the way to a landfill and give them new life."

A similar motivation is at work in a new installation by the University at Buffalo-educated artist Babs Reingold, whose show "The Last Tree" features 193 tree stumps inside metal pails laid out in a grid on the gallery floor. The show runs through Feb. 26.

It is an attempt, she said in a statement, to produce a "vision of a holocaust of sorts, humans destroying a vital part of themselves. Imagine the files of the stumps in the 193 pails, row upon row, resembling a historical battlefield where all that is visible are the rows of crosses silent over the graves.”

The two new exhibitions dovetail nicely with Tullis Johnson's engrossing show "Blistering Vision," on view through Oct. 23, which takes a hard look at Charles E. Burchfield's commitment to the natural environment.

The exhibition openings on Sept. 9 are part of the Burchfield Penney's monthly free Second Friday event, which includes free admission as well as ancillary events, readings, exhibitions and performances. A full schedule is online at or 878-6011.