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January 28, 2013

North Tonawanda artist blends painting, sculpture you can touch

Tonawanda News — In only a short handful of months since its opening, Project 308 Gallery is making something of a name for itself as a place where one can really get in touch with a love of art. 

No, really, you can touch the stuff, go ahead. Forget all the rules you learned the first time you visited a museum or art gallery. This stuff is meant to be touched. 

OK, so not every piece of art that ends up on the walls of the North Tonawanda gallery is made for touching, but the space is hosting its second show of paintings to which visitors can get up close, grope, trace with fingertips and smooth over with their hands. “Canvas Sculpture,” a series of painting/sculpture hybrids by North Tonawanda artist Larry Allen, is set to open Friday and will be up through Feb. 22.

It may be the gallery’s second touchable art show — the first was at the gallery’s August debut with a show by Sherri Marranca and Ellen Rogers — but it’s unlike anything many art appreciators have ever seen before, Allen said.

“I want people to be able to say, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this ever,’ ” he said. 

“That type of response is going to secure the fact that this is what I should be doing and that I made the right decision” to leave my job and work as an artist full-time, he added. “No matter how long it takes, you have to stick with it.”

Friday’s opening will be the first time Allen’s works have hung on the walls of a gallery, though he said he’s been working hard at his craft since shortly after he graduated from McKinley High School in 1986.

“I’ve always dibbled and dabbled in art ... I always loved it,” he said. “I just recently got serious about it.”

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