It’s hard to believe that in seven or eight years of research at City Hall, the art deco masterpiece of Buffalo and beyond, I have never stopped to draw it. Yes, I’ve stood outside and included it cityscapes, but never the gorgeous details within.
If you’ve ever set foot inside the building, you know that it has an astonishing quantity of art: murals, carvings, sculptures etc. One of my friends even has a re-created City Hall mural on her leg as a tattoo!
The bronze elevator doors, and the carved creatures above them, I have always captivated my attention. They are hard to draw though, because City Hall is so busy and the elevator doors are frequently opening and closing. But a half hour yesterday afforded me enough time to get the basic outline of the doors, and the surrounding details.
I got so involved in Art Jail, Day Four that I'm just now getting a chance to post about yesterday. I think that's a good sign. :)
Yesterday my dear friend and fellow artist Marissa Lehner Bannister, knowing my week's plans, thought of an "art field trip" that I would enjoy...a drive to historic Clarence Center, east of Buffalo. Founded in the early 19th century, the town is very charming, filled with federal-style brick homes, an Italianate business block, and tons of Civil War-era vernacular structures. An architectural historian's dream! (I met the owner of the house below, and she kindly told me a little of the history of her childhood home, and how she's returned to town to fix it up, bit by bit; meeting fellow old building-lovers is one of the best parts about my work!)
Yesterday was a chance to escape for a day, to a place I'd barely explored.
I arrived in the Clinton-Bailey neighborhood- where I HAVE visited the farmer's market, the wholesalers nearby, but this time I had a different purpose: I snuck into an industrial complex where I wasn't supposed to be! (Though there was no sign barring strange artists drawn to historic buildings). The warren of brick and metal structures at the intersection of Bailey Avenue and Clinton Street had long appealed to me...probably because I'd only seen them from the height of the 190 overpass. From there, the proud buildings, some ramshackle, some in seemingly-perfect condition, beckoned.
In 1889, the Snow Steam Pump Works was built on Buffalo's far east side, close to a mass of railroads and the Buffalo River. You can le...
I am a freelance artist, historian and event planner, focusing on emotional connection to place. And I have a problem.
Most of my art commissions and historical research contracts take place in the summer - the precious, short summer. I am grateful- as a freelancer, you take the work when it comes. However, I quickly get burnt out when the horizon appears to contain no free time for my own projects.
So, I have stolen a phrase from my friend Tara Sasiadek, a fellow freelance artist and a philosopher. When her husband notices she has not given herself enough time in the studio, he tells her "You're being put in Art Jail" and send her upstairs with some tea and lunch. He keeps an eye on the dog, or runs an errand for her, to make sure she isn't distracted by daily household stuff. (What a catch...
For a long time, I've been an advocate of reuse. Reclaimed architectural materials, old furniture- heck, even secondhand clothes! I get this instinct from my mom, for sure- she attended garage sales with a "needs" list on hand, and had a hawk eye for a deal. (She grocery shopped the same way). I figure, why EVER pay full price- and why not reuse good old stuff, especially when "They don't make 'em like they used to"?
Here in Buffalo, I've offered my historic research services, custom artwork and event planning services to the community for nearly nine years. When a friend recently said "I really wish there were contractors who preferred to work with reclaimed materials, or even knew about them; I'd hire them to renovate my kitchen!", a lightbulb lit above my head.
I wake up to Churchill pawing a hole in my perfectly taut window plastic which I'd proudly installed the day before. Yelling at him wakes me up sufficiently, so I slip on my glasses and gaze out the window. I see a lavender-mauve light bathing the church at the end of the alley, as well as the top third of the ornate Italianate house Victor saved from the wrecking ball. The warm feelings normally reserved for old friends seep back into me.
Just after a random moment of panic about too openly sharing my love life on the internet, I'm captivated by color, form and shadows. Mother nature interacting with human design might be one of my favorite things to experience- probably because it reminds me that the architects, street planners and others wer...
Over the last few years, I've gotten to know my Italian relatives and even visited them in my ancestral hometown (pictured above). What an incredible experience! It has spurred me to learn more about all the other branches of my family. The next person on my list has been, for a while, my great-great-grandmother, Odelie Tremblay.
Odelie is known to me only through a few colorful stories that my older cousin, Stanford, told me...including that she would turn her back to the television at my Aunt Yvonne's house (despite the fact that she was blind) to show her disdain for it. I know that she migrated to Fall River, Massachusetts just before the turn of the century, where a number of Quebecois emigrated for work in knitting and weaving mills. She married her husband "Harry" there in 1896 but un...
"Creativity is my neighbor; I live by it." - Edreys Wajed, Creative Mornings 2016.
My friend and fellow artist Edreys had his first solo art exhibition at the Western New York Book Arts Center recently (still up till March 10th). At the opening reception, I was reminded of the "sacred circle of influence" that affects all creatives. Visual artists listen to (or make) music. Sculptors have a favorite literary podcast. Authors and poets attend a painting show. We are all influencing each other constantly, and the inspiration goes in a circle.
Artists Struggle to Make Art.
I'm so grateful for Sugar City's annual "Fun-a-Day" challenge in February. You'd think for for someone who loves making art, I'd be constantly inspired, and just painting or drawing all the time. The truth is, doing anything yo...
Buffalo is a vortex of coincidence. A number of random meetings of fellow, or former, Buffalonians all weekend at the Women's March on Washington reinforced this. Yesterday, on the drive home, I happened to stop at the same brewery in a small Pennsylvania town for dinner as a group of activists forming "Veterans Respond". We had a great conversation about the peaceful, non-partisan actions they've been working on.
It is clear that the work of Veterans Respond is in alignment with many other causes that showed solidarity at the March on Saturday. Signs and slogans representing all walks of life reminded us that we share many of the same needs and desires as human beings. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs illustrates this: starting with the most basic things like housing and food, all the way to sel...