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Whimsical 'Shark Girl' sculpture unveiled at Canalside

Ashley Hirtzel

An unusual public sculpture was unveiled at Canalside in downtown Buffalo Tuesday. The art project is one of several to be unveiled across the region as part of the Public Art Initiative, which is a collaborative effort between the city of Buffalo, Erie County, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

Albright-Knox Curator of Public Art Aaron Ott says the newest addition to Canalside, ‘Shark Girl’ will engage the community on the importance of art. The permanent sculpture of a girl with a shark head was constructed by artist Casey Riordan Millard.

“It’s very approachable. It’s very accessible. It’s built to have people touch it, sit with it, laugh with it. We had the thing placed and within two minutes we stepped back and people were already taking pictures with it. It just engenders that kind of spirit and fun. And I think it’s a great way to start,” said Ott.

Mayor Byron Brown says the public initiative seeks to enrich the lives of people in the region.

“Art makes us feel good. Art provides interest and education. It brings us all together in a very powerful way, in a non-threatening way. Art encourages investment in residence, investment in businesses, and investment in places where we have our recreation. So, it will only add to the momentum that we’re seeing in the city of Buffalo,” said Brown.

Brown says he believes the public sculpture will draw more interest and traffic from city residents and visitors to Canalside. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says the sculpture will boost the quality of life in western New York.

“We are at a pivotal point for Buffalo and Erie County’s development. Cranes are in the air, buildings are going up, new jobs and technologies are being created here today as we speak and young professionals want to see art in the public. They want to see cultural institutions valued, and that’s what we have here in the city of Buffalo and Erie County. Adding public art to the mix will invigorate our minds, broaden our horizons, and create avenues for education and self expression,” said Poloncarz.

There will be six public art projects installed in the city of Buffalo and several others put up across the county. A community mural was unveiled at the Buffalo and Erie County public library August 18th as part of the Public Art Initiative.