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 learn more about the founding of the company here, which gives a fascinating primer on steam pumps and the evolution of the industry. By 1902, they had merged with the Holly Steam Pump company of Lockport (at the Buffalo location) and eventually produced the massive steam engines still on view inside the Colonel Ward Pumping Station in LaSalle Park!
Other buildings on the property called for me to paint them, with their rust and patina...so I stood in the parking lot for over an hour constructing the composition and underpainting, while dark rain clouds gathered on the horizon and gusty winds blew dust in my face:
After a gentleman from the building asked me exactly what I was doing, I showed him, he shrugged, and left me alone. I was able to focus for another ten minutes or so until the raindrops started falling, so I retreated to Dog Ears Bookstore and Cafe in South Buffalo to complete the detail work over a coffee.
After that, I spent a short time in nearby Cazenovia Park, gazing at the landscapes and the creek. I wondered if Olmsted had equated this design with Prospect Park as I do today. The similarities in feel, the language of design Olmsted used, are tangible.
My day ended as work brought me back to "normal life" but I was thrilled to finally have a chance to create a sketch of the place that I had long wished to capture.