Come inside and play

An immersive art experience takes over a former Medina high school



Installation proposal from artist Colleen Toledano

Shirt and interior photos by Samantha Lonczak

 

A preview party featuring the exhibiting artists and sponsors of PLAY/GROUND takes place Friday, October 12, 7–11 p.m., with weekend hours to see the installations October 13–14, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. PLAY/GROUND is located at 324 Catherine Street (formerly Medina High School), Medina. Call 249-1320 or visit GO HERE for more information and tickets.

 

Resource:Art, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, and Rochester Contemporary Art Center have joined forces to transform an empty building in Medina into a space of wonder. Twenty-nine artists/collaborative entities have been invited to create experiential installations within the former school, and they have used every possible artistic media to do so. Attendees of a weekend-long event (October 12–14) will see, hear, feel, and participate as they wander through the rooms and hallways. There is no way to describe what this experience might be like. (Those familiar with the participating artists may have some glimmer of what’s in store.)

 

Tee shirt with logo, former schoolhouse interior, installation proposal from artist Colleen Toledano

 

The notion of an empty building taken over by artists for a day or a weekend will be nothing new to many Buffalonians who have delighted in the multimedia cacophony of such events as Artists & Models, Trimania, and City of Night. The only thing to wonder about is how it got as far as Medina. As Resource: Art partner Anna Kaplan explains it, “Mike Hungerford, owner of the school building, approached Resource: Art about organizing an exciting event in this very cool, raw space—something creative, memorable, and on a large scale. He encouraged us to think out of the box, and wanted to work with us because he sees great value in the visual arts, though it is not his field. The title, PLAY/GROUND, is an homage to the site, which is a former school, but also alludes to the artists having complete creative freedom without the constraints of commercial success. We were thinking about the transformative power of art in terms of both the artistic process and the visitor takeaway. We wanted to give artists a unique opportunity to truly transform an entire space, as well as allow viewers to experience contemporary art outside of a traditional museum or gallery setting.”

 

Built in 1924, the former Medina High School is an early open-plan structure, designed as a welcoming environment for both students and teachers. Filled with natural light and using U-, E-, and H-shaped structures rather than the traditional vertical box, the building is designed by William B. Ittner, a specialist in pedagogical architecture. It has not been used as a school for over twenty years and is destined to become a residential loft project dubbed “Mustang City” once this project is over.

 

PLAY/GROUND participating artists include: Adam David Brown, Allen C. Topolski, Amanda Besl, Amanda Browder, Bethany Krull, Buffalo Institute for Contemporary Art (Emily Ebba Reynolds/Nando Alvarez-Perez), Catherine Heard, Chambliss Giobbi, Colleen Toledano, Coryn Kempster and Julia Jamrozik, Elizabeth Cooper, Ginny O’Brien, Jim Morris, John C. Santomieri, Jonathan Casey, Julian Montague, Katherine McMahon, Kyla Kegler, Kyle Butler, Lyla Rye, Melanie Fisher, Michael Bosworth, NC Miller, Reinhard Reitzenstein, Roberley Bell, Steven Pestana, Virginia Melynk, Virocode (Peter D’Auria and Andrea Mancuso), and Yvette Granata.

 

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