WXXI’s web-first series on sculpture project captures drama of artistic process

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For the first time, Rochester’s WXXI has premiered a series on the Internet. Paley on Park Avenue: New York City follows modernist metal sculptor Albert Paley as he creates 13 original works of art.

A welder works in the Rochester studio of modernist metal sculptor Albert Paley. Local pubTV station WXXI featured the artist’s work in a multipart series that premiered online. (Photo: WXXI)

The six-episode series, which debuted online May 16 and is broadcast Thursday nights through June 20, also is airing in segments on the Friday evening community-affairs show Need to Know Rochester.

In addition, WXXI radio and television producers are tracking completion and installation of the sculptures for a future pubTV documentary.

Paley is the 20th participant in the Park Avenue initiative, which began in 2000 to encourage artists to exhibit work on the tree-studded median strip of the famous avenue.

“The content actually drove the decision to make a web series,” Elissa Orlando, WXXI’s television v.p. told Current. “Paley’s Park Avenue sculpture project was so ambitious that producing it as a web series was the best way to capture both the artistic process and the drama of producing many large sculptures in a truncated time frame.” If WXXI had waited until the works were installed, “viewers would have missed the real-time experience of seeing the art being created on deadline,” she said.

In what Orlando calls the “cliffhanger” episode, which goes online June 13, viewers will see trucks leaving Rochester carrying the sculptures. “Then we’ll work in real time to document the New York City installation, and we’ll work super-quickly to get the finale up the next week,” Orlando said. “So viewers will see the project as it’s unfolding.”

WXXI.org/paleynyc provides a detailed look at each piece as it is made, along with interviews, photographs from Paley’s studio and social media links for additional information.

The Rochester-based Paley is the first metal sculptor to receive an Institute Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects, the group’s highest award to non-architects. He has completed more than 50 site-specific works.

Paley’s exhibit will remain on Park Avenue through November.

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