Albright Knox Celebrates 150 Years

April 25, 2012 Updated Apr 25, 2012 at 4:23 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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April 25, 2012 Updated Apr 25, 2012 at 4:23 PM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW) - It's one of the oldest art galleries in the country and it's hitting a monumental year.

"Albright Knox is 150 years old. We've commissioned two great artists. They're going to work with 150 people who have been chosen at random from Western New York to do an abstract portrait," Maria Morreale with Albright Knox Art Gallery said

Hundreds of applicants were chosen in a lottery drawing for their chance to be a part of the community event, Wednesday.

"We had 650 people apply and we're picking 150 names," Morreale said.

Organizers will contact each person individually. Then, that group will then be committed to a full weekend of posing for two New York City Artist who are known as the ChanSchatz.

Along with the portraits, there will be a story about each Western New Yorker, including their ties to the area.

"On December 7th as part of our 2012 celebration, we're going to reveal these piece of artwork to the community," Morreale said.

Organizers said this is a great way to tie the Buffalo community together with the arts, especially at such a historic time for the gallery.

Maria Morreale from the Albright Knox Art Gallery visited Channel 7's "Eyewitness News This Morning" Wednesday to unveil "Project Universals 150" - a special project bring 150 People together for 1 Work of Art, Celebrating 150 Years.

The Albright-Knox has commissioned the artists Eric and Heather ChanSchatz to create a work in honor of the Gallery’s 150th anniversary. 150 Western New Yorkers will be selected to participate in the creation of the work. Each participant will become a part of the work by meeting the artists and completing a specially designed questionnaire. The final work will comprise 150 unique, hand-painted works—one to represent each participant. The artists hope this project will bring together “the museum, the community, and artistic methodology in a context of participation, exchange, and collective creation.”

Entries are now closed. 150 participants and 50 alternates will be selected through a lottery drawing on Wednesday, April 25, 2012. Participants and alternates will be notified shortly after the drawing.

About the Artists
Eric and Heather ChanSchatz (American, born 1968) are based in New York. They have been collaborating for nearly twenty-five years through a creative process that marries traditional approaches to artmaking, including painting and sculpture, with social engagement. In their practice, the artists use a process they developed in the 1990s to create works of art based on information they gather from people who participate in their projects. Participants are asked to select from an array of images, phrases, and color combinations predetermined by the artists, a unique method that serves as the foundation for ChanSchatz’s distinct imagery.

ChanSchatz have engaged in series of projects with groups including American soldiers stationed in Iraq, Pennsylvanian coal miners, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Millennials, and participants in the Egyptian Revolution, based in Cairo. While they may initially appear entirely abstract, ChanSchatz’s works are in fact dependent upon specific input from the participants as well as the artists’ observations of the participants themselves. Although abstraction is a part of ChanSchatz’s visual language, themes of identity, communal relationships, and socio-political networks are referenced throughout their process of creation. The resulting works of art are surprising, colorful compositions layered with meaningful patterns—abstract portraits of a group of individuals at a precise moment.