Monday, February 19, 2007

Press Release: Buffalo Art Keepers

Courtesy of Patrick Klinck, Buffalo Art Keepers

"Erie County Legislature takes up controversial Albright-Knox art sale
The Erie County Legislature will address the issue of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s controversial decision to sell at auction 207 works of art from the gallery’s permanent collection at the Feb. 22 meeting of the legislature’s Community Enrichment Committee. The auctions are scheduled to begin at Sotheby’s in New York on March 19. Michele Iannello, Erie County legislator for Kenmore-Tonawanda and chair of the Community Enrichment Committee, which oversees cultural non-profits that receive county funding, has invited representatives of the Albright-Knox and the Buffalo Art Keepers, a group of members that is opposing the sale, to present their respective sides at the meeting. Museum director Louis Grachos and members of the museum’s board of directors are expected to make a presentation explaining their case for the sale. The Community Enrichment Committee was instrumental in preventing the sale of the Buffalo Museum of Science “Milestones of Science” collection in the mid 1990s. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 22 at 9 a.m. in the legislature’s chambers on the fourth floor of County Hall, 92 Franklin St., Buffalo. Buffalo Art Keepers is a group of Albright-Knox Art Gallery members who are fervently opposed to the sale led by Carl Dennis, retired University at Buffalo faculty member and winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. “Selling off so many objects at once, many of which are rare, and of the highest quality, is unprecedented in the history of our museum, and should not have been done without the most extensive, open consultation with the gallery membership and the larger community,” said Dennis. “The scheduled sale has not only been justified unconvincingly and managed without transparency but (it) has also betrayed the basic obligation of the gallery to cherish the cultural heritage of our community.” No gallery members or supporting foundations were consulted during the decision-making process that led to announcement of the sale in The Buffalo News on Nov. 11, 2006. The complete list of works for sale was not announced until Feb. 13, 2007. The Buffalo Art Keepers group is currently seeking authorization from 300 gallery members (five percent of the total gallery membership of 6,000) to improve its standing as representatives of the membership interested in blocking the sale. Members can access a copy of the authorization form at Membership in the gallery can be obtained over the phone, in person or on line at"

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