My Future Ex brings diverse groups of artists to Buffalo, gets students off campus
Published: Thursday, September 26, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 26, 2013 18:09
Knee-deep in an abandoned warehouse filled with waste from a flower shop, installation artist Tra Bouscaren is looking for something beautiful. The 39-year-old Boston native uses any material he can find to make art.
Bouscaren is one of 17 local, national and international artists currently participating in My Future Ex, an art exhibition organized by the UB Art Galleries. The exhibition consists of a series of shows and installments around Buffalo, the first of which opened Sept. 20. Those interested in viewing any of the work or interacting with the artists will have until Nov. 4 to experience the show.
Sandra Firmin is the curator of the UB Art Galleries and has worked closely with Bouscaren to prepare the show. Firmin hails from Denver, Colo., but has lived in the Queen City for 10 years. The eclectic and diverse communities within the city – something she said she didn’t experience back home – have inspired Firmin in her efforts to bring interesting and relevant work to Buffalo.
My Future Ex has proven to be the perfect opportunity. The show focuses on brief relationships with people, places and materials. In many ways, those who go to see the work will do so in spirit of its creation; brief interactions with the work and/or artists will mirror the work’s hasty creation.
When asked to describe the show in one word, Firmin’s response was “unexpected,” and Bouscaren coolly added “serendipity.”
Firmin and Bouscaren organized the show in an effort to expose the pockets of culture Firmin loves so much by inviting a diverse group of artists who all embody different artistic styles, cultural influences and geographic communities. The goal is to attract a wide audience, exposing visitors to a flurry of work, all while encouraging students and residents of the city to step out of their dorms or comfort zones and enjoy art in different local areas.
Though he has only been living in Buffalo for the past year, Bouscaren was able to do an installation art piece for My Future Ex while acquainting himself to the area and settling into a new home.
Sixty-four-year-old Maureen Bartleet of Detroit, Mich., lives in Buffalo and owns Maureen’s Wholesale Flower Market on Ellicott Street. Bartleet allowed Bouscaren to use a 4,000-square-foot area in the warehouse above her shop to do an installation art piece using only what Bourscaren could find.
“He worked there for about seven months and used dozens of materials of whatever he found,” Bartleet said.
Bouscaren has gotten to know the city much better by working on this piece, and he often wonders if he sees Buffalo as “a glass half empty or half full.” For him, the glass is half empty when looking at and reflecting on the dead space and abandoned or downtrodden areas of Buffalo. Bouscaren considers it the artist’s job to “fill the glass” by reclaiming these spaces with creative projects.
“You can look at some dead space like there is all over the place in downtown Buffalo,” Bouscaren said. “It’s full of dead space. You can just let that depress you and get you down, or you can turn it around by offering it to an artist who will do a project. Then all of a sudden, you have something beautiful.”
Bouscaren and Firmin are especially hopeful that students who live outside of the city on UB’s North Campus will venture out to see the work for this exhibition. They encourage students to seek a memorable experience not only with the art from the exhibition but also with the areas of Buffalo they will get to explore. My Future Ex creates two experiences of discovery in one effort.
Shuttle buses will run from campus to the areas of the city where the art has been installed. One free bus will run between North and South Campus to downtown and the East Side, and another will run will run between the downtown and East Side venues.
“We try to provide the opportunity for students to go downtown, and they might be places that they normally don’t go to,” Firmin said.
Some of the locations in Buffalo she recommends as hidden gems include Mutual Riverfront Park, Ohio Street and Genesee Street. Firmin hopes My Future Ex will make Buffalo look like a massive art gallery students and artists can share and enjoy.