Examples of Albert Paley's distinctive sculpture are in government and corporate office buildings, and on city sidewalks and bridges. They're in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, London's Victoria and Albert.
Now, Paley is downsizing: "restructuring," he says. He's not renewing the lease on the largest of his three studios, the 40,000-square-foot space on Lyell Avenue, when it expires a year and a half from now. That's where the fabrication is done on his large-scale, site-specific pieces. He'll continue to create those, but he'll outsource the fabrication.
The goal, he said in an interview early this week, is to focus his attention, time, and energy more on the aesthetics of his work and on independent design.
Right now, Paley and his 14 employees have four commissions under way, exhibitions in Germany and Australia, more exhibitions coming up, and "probably 50 or 60 sculptures, plus decorative arts – sculptures, lamps, tables – that are in process right now," he said.
Education is "fundamental" to his studio work, and he's artist in residence at the Rochester Institute of Technology and lectures "about every month" at museums and universities, which he'll continue to do, he said.
He'll be 76 years old when the Lyell Avenue lease is up. "And a lot of these large projects take three to five years to do," he said, "with feasibility studies and the design phase and all of the structural engineering. So I'm trying to be mindful of time."
"The business aspect and the logistics take maybe 85 percent of my time," he said. That hasn't left much time for "the artistic and the creative endeavor."
"The whole reason I started studio work to begin with," he said, "was I was trained in the fine arts, and all I wanted to do was to design and make things."
Albert Paley in 2007, with his large-scale sculpture "Threshold," at Klein Steel in Rochester.