Quieter than a Buffalo Sabres' hockey game and far less strenuous than a zip-line adventure, Buffalo's Albright-Knox Art Gallery, a major showplace for modern art, is a quiet oasis - clean, orderly, and inviting as I enter on a cold winter Saturday afternoon, Knowing little about art, Gretchan Grobe, guest service coordinator, (aka the Hospitality Princess) assures me that it didn't matter. "Some know a lot about art and others want to learn, but be assured you don't have to have a pedigree to visit."
The gallery is the sixth oldest in North America, established in 1862 as the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy. In 1890, Buffalo entrepreneur
John J. Albright, began construction of the Art Gallery for the Academy. In 1962, a new addition was built by
Seymour H. Knox and his family and renamed the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The gallery is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Its two floors are accessible to wheel chairs and spread over a large area with
the impressive permanent collection of post-war American and European art found on the main floor. American painter, Albert Bierstadt's 1859 painting titled "Marina Piccola Capri" captures my interest. The painting of an Italian bay was the first gift presented to the Academy in 1863.
Henry Moore's "Reclining Figure" sculpture, carved out of Elmwood is a show stopper, the first piece of his impressive work purchased by a North American gallery. He also created the large sculpture know as "The Archer" that sits outside Toronto's City Hall. The wood and mixed media sculpture, "Bay Girl" by an artist known as Marisol also kindles a smile on my face.
The second floor houses works of the masters,
Post-Impressionistic artists such as Gaugin, van Gogh, and Picasso. Inside the AK Gift Shop, you may purchase their prints, and sales associate, Kate McWatters, says, "The 11x14 reproductive Picasso prints for $13.00 are one of our most popular items." A Picasso now hangs on my wall!
A ten-minute drive to the intersection of Elmwood and Allen in historic
Allentown and one of Buffalo's favourite hang-outs is where the locals eat. The family owned and operated Towne Restaurant opened in 1972. Unpretentious, it serves good food with fast service, everything made from scratch, and you leave with change in your pocket. The Buffalo Burger and Open Gyro, come with all the works, and portions are large, so arrive hungry.
George Bailey contributes to Sun Media's 43 paid-circulation newspapers across Canada as well as numerous magazines. George has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Canada AM, The Discovery Channel, and Live with Regis and Cathy Lee. He has published five books on Niagara Falls.