On view through Tuesday at Dunkirk's Adams Art Gallery is critically acclaimed performance artist Abraham Ferraro's mid-career survey "Occupational Hazard: Pencil Pusher Pushing Pencils." It's the most comprehensive presentation to date of work by this remarkable artist. The "Pencil Pusher" portion itself is an interactive performance that integrates the production of art with the business of art. Ferraro has created a one-of-a-kind 18-foot-tall pencil which he uses as his place of business to demonstrate and create a full "day's work." Ferraro begins his work day like millions of people all around the world, but the work itself occurring within the giant pencil structure is at the very least, astonishing.
Ferraro will be giving a special encore performance on Tuesday, with the artist's "work day" beginning promptly at 10 a.m. and going through the afternoon. While the performance is open to the public, Ferraro is especially interested in having local schools attend. Schools can make arrangements via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Adams Art Gallery is located at 600 Central Ave. in Dunkirk.
The work day/performance starts when the artist punches in on a time clock for his eight-hour day. After making a pot of coffee, the Pencil Pusher climbs into a metal cage-like office complete with swiveling chair, foot pedals and hand crank. Using the hand crank the Pencil Pusher propels the 400-pound office up the 18-foot-high pencil. As Ferraro ascends the pencil, he maneuvers the foot pedals back and forth. These movements are transmitted down a series of cables and pulleys to a drawing jig, drafting table, and real pencil to create a drawing. When the Pencil Pusher is not ascending and descending the pencil, he is interacting with gallery visitors and attempts to sell them printed No. 2 pencils, jumbo pencils, drawings, and pseudo stock shares.
Ferraro holds a BFA from SUNY Fredonia, an MA and an MFA from SUNY Albany. He completed a residency at the prestigious Sculpture Space in Utica in 2006 and his work has been shown throughout the Northeast and at several galleries around the world. He has received various awards for his work including Best in Show at the Made in New York Show at the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center in 2010 and 2012. Feature articles about his interdisciplinary art have appeared in numerous newspapers and international magazines including Climbing and UK's Climb Magazine. Ferraro's art has been featured on WNYT-TV Channel 13 News, Utica's TV show "Explore!" and WXXI TV Channel 21. He currently teaches sculpture and is the sculpture technician at The College of St. Rose.