Former Medina HS hosting big art show this weekend

Photos by Tom Rivers: Michael Hungerford and Emily Tucker, one of the curators of the PLAY/GROUND art show and cultural event, are shown with puppets created by Kyla Kegler of Buffalo. Kegler is one of 34 artists featured with work Friday through Sunday at the former Medina High School at 324 Catherine St. Performers will be wearing the puppet heads and costumes during the art show.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 September 2019 at 8:59 pm

Last year’s debut of PLAY/GROUND attracted about 2,000 people

MEDINA – Artist have been transforming rooms, hallways, stairwells, even locker rooms and closets in the former Medina High School.

PLAY/GROUND, an immersive art experience, is back at the former school from Friday through Sunday. PLAY/GROUND debuted last year and attracted about 2,000 people to the show.

This year’s show will be bigger, with 34 artist installations, up from the 29 last year.

Talis Equity and the Hungerford family have worked to put on the show.

“For three days this building will be the center of art world in our area,” said Michael Hungerford, one of the leaders of the project.

Keith Lemley created “Symmetry Breaking” which combines geometric objects with light and architecture. Lemley hopes people who see the installation will think about everyday materials in new ways.

Hungerford and Talis Equity have teamed with Resource: Art, which includes three Western New York art curators – Anna Kaplan (Anna Kaplan Contemporary), Elisabeth Samuels (Indigo Art) and Emily Tucker (Benjamin Gallery).

The curators didn’t want traditional art – paintings, sculptures and framed photos.

Nate Hodge of Brockport created this abstract painting, “Medina Green,” in a locker room. Hodge will be covering every inch of the room with acrylic, house paints, salvaged wood and panels, inks and aerosol.

“We want you to think about art in a different way,” Tucker said Monday evening, giving a walk-through of the school.

It sounded like a construction zone with hammering, sawing wood and drilling screws.

“It’s fun to see it all come together,” Hungerford said. “Some of the rooms are done and it’s so much better than we imagined.”

Hungerford, a regional director for Takeform in Medina, read about a similar as PLAY/GROUND a couple years ago in a vacant warehouse in New York City. Last year, Hungerford pushed for the former Medina school to host an immersive art experience.

Michael’s uncle Roger is planning to turn the building into apartments. While it is vacant, Roger Hungerford agreed to give artists free rein to paint and create inside – and even some spots on the outside. (Look for a sailboat on the side of the building this weekend.) Hungerford also is paying the artists for their work.

Emily Tucker, one of the curators, said the funding and exposure through PLAY/GROUND has been appealing to the artists. Often artists are asked to work for free or on a very low budget. Or, they aren’t given full latitude to be creative. PLAY/GROUND urged them to push the envelope and create multi-sensory art work.

Tucker and Hungerford expect to top last year’s attendance. PLAY/GROUND will be running shuttle buses from Buffalo for the opening night celebration and preview party.

Tucker also said the event has been talked about since last year, with much more anticipation among in the arts community now that people know it’s such a unique experience, having so many artists in one building, with wildly divergent work.

Highlights of the three-day event include:

Friday – PLAY/GROUND opens with a 21 and over preview party from 7 pm – 11 pm. General Admission Tickets are $35 in advance and $45 at the door. There are also ticket options which include a shuttle ride to and from Medina leaving from Hotel Henry at 6 p.m.

Included in the price of the tickets to the September 27th PLAY/GROUND Preview Party is a performance from Torn Space Theater. The avant garde theater group known for their site specific performances at Silo City, has created a new work,  Auditorium,  which will be performed at two different times during the preview event. The party will feature a variety of food and drinks including small bites prepared by Chef Lionel Hydel of the soon-to-open Harvest Restaurant, associated with Bents Opera House in Medina. There will be a cash bar by Mile 303 and kombucha from Bootleg Bucha and Snowy Owl Kombucha.

Saturday and Sunday – the event costs $10 ($5 for all students with ID). PLAY/GROUND is geared towards families for these weekend days. The site can be visited from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, and children 12 and under are admitted free of charge. There will be family friendly activities in the former gymnasium and live music curated and presented by Revolution Gallery in the Auditorium.

For more information on PLAY/GROUND, click here.

Rich Tomasello made “Safe Space” out of cardboard and white plaster. More than 150 students from Kenmore, Tonawanda and Starpoint schools helped create the artwork. The installation addresses the anxieties of growing up in American schools where lockdown drills are commonplace.

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