Release Date: May 31, 2023
BUFFALO , N.Y. – Anna Wager joined the University at Buffalo Art Galleries as its new curator in August 2022, and has been researching areas of the collection for the last six months in preparation for a summer exhibition. Her interest in the roots of these collections, and their relevance to Buffalo, became the inspiration for this show.
“The history of the UB Art Galleries is also the history of the Martha Jackson and David Anderson galleries, and in some ways the history of UB as an institution. As I spent time with the UB Art Collection and UB Poetry Collection, I started thinking a lot about influence. One of the first pieces I considered was Black Crows (Oranges No. 1), 1952, by Grace Hartigan, which was created in dialogue with a Frank O’Hara poem, and that was pivotal for me. It’s a really layered piece, physically and conceptually,” Wager said.
The longer Wager examined the piece, the more she thought about the conversations that must have taken place for a piece like this to come together. Wager said she began considering how conversations among artists and their friends likely influence each other. This quickly broadened to include more influences by poets, writers, musicians, teachers and mentors. Considering these relationships and their impacts on each other became the concept and theme for her first show with UB, “In Conversation.”
“As a university gallery, it felt important and exciting to spend some time thinking about collaboration between artists and their influences, and how we might extend these
collaborations out to the Buffalo community through offering workshops, talking to local artists, partnering with local bookstores and supporting summer programming,” Wager said.
The items on exhibit are drawn from the collections of the UB Art Galleries and the UB Poetry Collection and aim to introduce visitors to a broader network of collaborators, extending to local and regional partnerships between artists and those who influence them.
The media in this exhibition ranges between artist books, large scale paintings, works on paper, sculptural pieces and prints of various kinds. The largest piece, Joan Mitchell’s “Ode to Joy (A Poem by Frank O’Hara),” is an oil painting from 1970-71, and takes up an entire wall of the gallery. One of the smaller works, a sketch of poet Robert Duncan by Virginia Admiral, is the size of a paperback book.
“We want to balance a range of work, so that there is something for everyone, whatever mood they are in,” Wager said.
Before coming to UB, Wager was the Clarence A. Davis Visual Arts Curator and gallery director at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. While at Hobart and William Smith, Wager worked on solo exhibitions by contemporary artists including Amanda Maciuba, Andrew Ellis Johnson, Rebecca Murtaugh, Sarita Zaleha and John Opera — a UB assistant professor of art. Wager also curated collections and thematic group exhibitions around such topics as art and labor, craft and democracy, and Afrofuturism. Her previous curatorial projects and fellowships include work at the Delaware Art Museum, the Seattle Art Museum and the Henry Art Gallery.
“We’re thrilled and delighted that Wager has joined our team. She brings important experience of working with art historical research, contemporary artists and connecting students to the work,” said Robert Scalise, UB Art Galleries director.
Programming for Wager’s first UB exhibition as curator include an opening reception on June 8 from 5–8 p.m. which will feature a lecture at 7 p.m. by Ada Calhoun, author of “Also a Poet: Frank O’Hara, My Father and Me.” There will also be workshops throughout the exhibition, an activity book for kids and adults, and a July 15 community day for the neighborhood surrounding UB Anderson Gallery.
Support for UB Art Galleries is provided by the UB College of Arts and Sciences, the Visual Arts Building Fund, the UB Anderson Gallery Fund, and the Seymour H. Knox Foundation Fine Art Fund.