Paley in Rochester: On the Local Path of the World’s Most Brilliant Sculptor

Paley in Rochester: On the Local Path of the World’s Most Brilliant Sculptor

george paley

George Payne at the Albert Paley sculpture outside the Hungerford Building 6/26/16 [Photo: David Kramer] from Talker invited to Rochester Free Radio: WRFZ,103.6 FM

me darkened

David Kramer at the Albert Paley sculpture outside the Hungerford Building 6/26/16 [Photo: George Payne] from Talker invited to Rochester Free Radio: WRFZ,103.6 FM from

In Talker invited to Rochester Free Radio: WRFZ,103.6 FM, we saw our first Albert Paley sculptures outside the Hungerford Building when George Cassidy Payne invited me to appear on Broken Spear Vision, a project of Gandhi Earth Keepers International that has ended for now

The founder of Gandhi Earth Keepers International and a SUNY Adjunct Humanities Instructor, George now invites us to take a comprehensive and whirlwind tour of Paley sculptures throughout Rochester and Monroe County.

Paley in Rochester: On the Local Path of the World’s Most Brilliant Sculptor

Photography by George Cassidy Payne

With a massive force of will, an indefatigable sense of celebration, and a monumental talent for manipulating metal into a new visual vocabulary, Albert Paley has risen from being America’s greatest blacksmith and goldsmith into the world’s most audacious and captivating sculptor.

As a builder and a craftsman, Paley knows that metal is a versatile medium. As such, he can make it flexible, agile, and stylistic. Always striving to resolve opposites, Paley works with what he calls “organic logic.” Although his work is simply the execution in heated steel, his finished products happen once. With a keen sense for ornateness, he uses the most standard materials to achieve an effect that is beyond imitation.

Arguably his masterpiece is the double gates at the State Capital in Albany, NY. Those 4 ton doors which consumed 36,000 hrs of manpower are stunning. So is his marvelous installation at the St. Louis Zoo, and his sprawling, often heroic Park Ave collection in NYC.

Here in Rochester, Paley’s work is prolifically showcased in a way that is unique to his creative story and process. From his soaring “Sentinel” at RIT to his museum benches and sculptures to his now legendary Construction Site (visible to all travelers on the 490 West), Rochester holds a special place in Paley’s mythic portfolio.

In this series of photographs I sought to capture the genius of Paley in Rochester. There is nothing quite like one of his beams crashing upwards through corton steel hoops of bronze and yellow. Paley is just as much an industrial designer as he is an architect and sculptor. His work consistently seeks to emulate the human form while remaining faithful to the intuitive curves of the raw material under manufactured heat and spontaneous pressure.

Many of Paley’s Rochester installations possess this remarkable combination of logical fluidity and creative reason. I truly believe that Albert Paley is the supreme embodiment of the distinctive aspirations of this city. Rochester is, at its best, everything that Paley’s work represents: grasping, firm, decisive, inventive, energetic, and joyfully unscripted.

Photography by George Cassidy Payne

Bausch & Lomb Building


Memorial Art Gallery



Monumental is not a matter of size- Albert Paley

Out of the coal fire in the foundry and the sparks of the workshop, behind eyeglasses and ear protection, Albert Paley is busy doing something that has never been tried before. You can count on that. Like all true artists, he is busy creating a new sensory experience that has never occurred at any other time in the history of intelligent life. In the words of Paley himself, “It is not about creating an object. It is about creating a perspective.”

Memorial Art Gallery





I have an aggressive personality. My work is not shy, or timid in any way.– Albert Paley



Originally found in “Paley in the 21st Century.”

He can make steel seem light. He can make iron dance. He turns what are seemingly unbending materials into glass like paintings that can never be duplicated. Every one of his finished products is an achievement in originality.

West Main Street Bridge


The Hungerford Building


85% of his projects are commissioned based. If not for his public installations the people of Rochester would not have access to his work. In Rochester, there are outstanding representations of his talent on university campuses, in public courtyards, inside museum sculpture parks, and outside corporate offices.


Digitally enhanced photograph. (Originally found in “Paley in the 21st Century.”)

The Strong Museum of Play





A bust of Frederick Douglass at the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


Like what you see on our site? We’d appreciate your support. Please donate today.

Featured Posts