It says right on the building, “Arts Council,” but GO ART! Director Gregory Hallock has been concerned that people don’t realize that Seymour Place at 201 East Main St. is a place anybody can come in and see art.
“I think a lot of people don’t see our sign, and a lot of people still think we’re a membership club,” Hallock said. “Yes, we have members but you don’t have to a member to come in.”
His solution: Install some works of art — in this case, sculptures — in the garden plots in from of the red brick building at the coroner of East Main and Bank streets in Batavia.
Hallock and the GO ART! staff, had become familiar with the work of Bill Schutt from his showing at the Ramble, what’s on display at Eli Fish Brewing Co., his entries into an art competition there, and knew he worked in metal, which seemed like the perfect medium for sculptures placed outside the building.
It might come as a surprise to some that Schutt is an artist. The Basom resident has been a volunteer firefighter for 32 years and spent a dozen years working for either Genesee County Emergency Management or Mercy EMS.
He often tinkered around the house, working with metal, installing bookshelves or other needful items for the house, often embellishing whatever he made with artistic touches but a few years ago he became inspired to make sculptures using scrap metal on his property.
He’s recently branched out into making larger pieces, so the commission from GO ART! came at an opportune time to expand his portfolio.
Schutt’s pieces are about our shared humanity, he said.
The first one is a riff on a popular social media meme about the difference between equality and equity. In the meme, three people of different heights are shown standing on boxes, trying to see over a fence to watch a baseball game. They’re all on the same size box. The tall person can see, the smallest person can’t see at all. That is equality, according to the meme. When the boxes are restacked, so the tallest has no box, the medium-height person has one, and the shortest has two, all three can see. The meme labels that configuration, “equity.”
The second sculpture is of people in silotte. Their faces look the same but they’re all different based on hairstyle and the jewelry they ware.
“It’s kind of a reminder that we are more the same than we are different,” Schutt said. “We need to celebrate our differences and find our common humanity. Art does that. It brings together all walks of life.”
Hallock loved the work, he said.
“I didn’t know what he was going to do, and I’m pleasantly pleased with the pieces,” Hallock said. “The message of equity and unity is there.”