~ First Impressions ~
Recent attendance to a few art related workshops at Buffalo Arts Studio, located in the city’s TriMain Center, proved to be jam packed with pleasant surprises. Surprise #1; the entire fifth floor of that edifice is dedicated to the arts in some way, shape or form. Expecting only to find a small “hole-in-the-wall-gallery” on that level this writer was overjoyed to see a myriad of other artsy tenants. There are galleries and classrooms and studios! Oh, joy!
Surprise #2; BAS is not just a gallery! No, this particular tenant reserves its space for both art appreciation and art creation by way of classes, workshops and exhibitions. They exist not only to bring the community to the art but, also to bring the art to the community. This not-for-profit organization is pretty complex operation given its modest staff of 5.
Which brings us to Surprise #3; not only were the two workshops previously mentioned loaded with crucial career building information for any artist regardless of level….they were also FREE! Yup, you heard it right the first time, folks…FREE! Now, just to clarify, not all the workshops are gratis and, since these two were, I figured there's nothing to lose but a short span of time. In all honesty, let’s just say not much was expected from “yours truly”, especially given the fact that top dollar would NOT exchange hands. Truth be told, however, there is a quality resource to be tapped into here. Happily, I report, there are no regrets from this side of the fence.
~ The Gallery ~
Alright! Enough of the background and on to what really matters…the art, or, rather…the space where the art is displayed; the gallery. Discreetly tucked away around the corner from the BAS education office the actual physical space appears much smaller from the entrance than it really is. Once in….BAM! It became, oh so, clear that I had just walked straight into…you guessed it….Surprise #4! It’s FREE too! Patrons are not charged to take in the artistic sights. You walk in, enjoy and on your way out, if you feel moved to leave a donation, go for it.
Surprise # 5 puts a bit of twist to the old proverb, “Good things come in small packages”. Let me explain. Not only is it applicable in this specific gallery space but, it’s also a bit of a paradox because while the gallery may not be huge…it truly is larger than it looks at first blush. It’s as if one has to physically be in the space lost in the enjoyment of the artwork before you realize how much time has elapsed, how many pieces are comfortably on exhibit and how behind every delicious nook and cranny hides, yet, more space and more installations. Setting the scene, here’s how the space flows. Exhibition room 1 is obvious to patrons from the gallery entrance as its right outside the gift shop. What is not so obvious is that directly around the corner and behind this first space lay hidden exhibition room 2 and around the corner and behind room 2 resides an alternative space (used for gatherings) that houses even more display space that leads down a corridor wrapping around the gift shop bringing the patron full circle right back at the entrance. It’s sneaky and wonderful….all at the same time. Love it!
~ The Exhibition ~
Okay, now that you’ve tolerated the previous enthusiastic rave on the gallery, it is now time to shed a spot light or two on the show itself. BAS is currently hosting their Annual Artists Exhibit and Sale which officially opened on November 21, 2009 and is slated to run through January 2, 2010. The group show displays work of 31 BAS member artists proficient in a variety of mediums. Packing so much personal expression into a limited environment and still providing enough room to breathe for each piece was quite impressive. Traffic flow, lighting, installation and selections all flowed. No one artist was favored more than another, everyone appeared to have a fair share of the spotlight….from the gallery perspective, that is.
From the viewers perspective, some pieces will shine a little brighter than others depending on what resonates with the individual…which, is the whole point of most exhibitions. To get your attention, stop you in your tracks and get a reaction. Good or bad, doesn’t matter. Just as long as it draws the viewers gaze and makes them ponder. If the person decides to purchase….that’s a bonus. Albeit a really nice bonus, it’s typically, not the point. Setting aside commercial artists, most fine artists create as an outlet…the sales piece of it is a flattering plus. It means the individual connected with the artists work on some level and was willing to plunk down their hard earn money to maintain that connection. So, if you're really looking to give the artist in your life a huge compliment...tell them you get their art, buy it and, most importantly, talk about it! What does the piece communicate to you? How does it make you feel?
~ The Final Verdict ~
Personally speaking, the work by Joanna Angie (who, by the way, is the director of BAS) and Margaret Raab struck a chord with me. Similarly, their paintings seemed to exude a sense of spiritual, introspective calm. Mystical oases that kept luring this viewer back to their part of the gallery to admire reflect and enjoy. Not altogether sure if this was the kind of response either artist (or the gallery) was trying to invoke but it is safe to say reactions were, definitely, had at this exhibition. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Can’t wait for the next one!
~ Desirée Crúz-Nevilles
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