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  WKBW Local News

Bio Hazard Or Art?

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Dozens of law enforcement officials made their way into 60 College Street. Hazmat, firefighters, FBI and detectives were all on the scene, and neighbors could not get to their homes.

Allentown resident Joe Maniaci tells 7 News, "It's just pretty bizarre that its happening my upstairs neighbor is in his house and can't leave ."

It all started when Buffalo Police were called to the residence two days ago. Commissioner Rocco Diina said, "Our officers were investigating a death and they made some observations to the joint terrorism task force."

While police say the Tuesday death was from natural causes, another investigation began. FBI officials say Buffalo police thought the materials found in the basement may be hazardous. So it was all hands on deck at the home of Steven Kurtz, an art professor at the University of Buffalo. Neighbors say they believe his basement may be an art studio.

" The owner of the residence indicates that he uses it as part of his performances...providing us information." FBI officials say they are trying to determine what is in there. At this point they say they do not know.

FBI Agent Paul Moskal tells reporter Julie Fine, "We are erring on the side of caution. "

Hazmat crews returned to the scene on Friday to continue their work.

What kind of art were the materials being used for?

"What they're exploring is the intersection of art and technology, including genetic technologies and biochemistry and all of the technologies that we hear about today, artists are interested in that too. So, they're doing work that's very interdisciplinary," said Edmund Cardoni, from Hallwells Contemporary Art Gallery.

Steven Kurtz is involved in something called the critical art ensemble.

The ensemble is a group of collaborating artists interested in hot topic issues, such as bio technology, dna, and politics. Those are all topics they incorporate in their work. Ed Cardoni is the executive director of Hallwells Contempoary Art Gallery here in Buffalo. He says this type of artwork is really cutting edge.

"It's really pushing the boundaries of what art does, but it's also dealing as its subject matter with very current scientific investigations too. They're very serious about that, about learning about it and doing a lot of research that gets incorporated into their artwork," said Cardoni.

Ed Cardoni says he expects the local art community to rally behind Steven Kurtz. He says using scientific equipment in art is completely normal. Authorities have not charged Steven Kurtz with any crime. A lot of people in the art community also think Steven Kurtz is wrongfully being targeted, especially at a time when he's grieving the death of his wife.

Authorities have not charged Steven Kurtz with any crime. Stay tuned to 7 News will for more on the type of cutting edge art he's involved in at 5 and 6 p.m.

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