Architect and artist Dennis Maher has transformed his Buffalo home, called Fargo House, into a fantastical mini museum of tableaus, all made from recycled materials and found objects. For the past three years, Maher has been collecting props, ephemera, cast off toys, old furniture and other disused materials from thrift stores, garage sales and trash sites, and used these elements to create imaginary landscapes in each of his rooms.
Maher is the current artist-in-residence at Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the city’s main art museum. Also an assistant professor of architecture, Maher has dedicated his artistic side to salvaging lost treasures, and giving them new life. The artist has spent countless hours scavenging thrift stores, flea markets and estate sales for forgotten cultural valuables to add to his ever growing installations.
His home resembles one giant cabinet of curiosities, lines are blurred between form and function, with furniture, walls and objects melded together in one cohesive category. With a focus on model shelters, like old doll houses, bird cages, jewelry boxes and the like, Maher creates dioramas that when built up, become the fabric of the house, moving from item on display to part of the interior architecture. The living and ever changing home-cum-art installation is a commentary on both consumer and throw away culture, as the artist feels the need to accumulate more and more, from second hand outlets that thrive on selling cultural cast offs.
Opening this past weekend, Maher’s conglomerations were extended to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. In an exhibition called “House of Collective Repair,” the artist puts his fascination with accumulation on display, inviting visitors to revisit familiar objects from their past, held together and presented in a new way.