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Daniel Galas and Leif Low-Beer at Buffalo Arts Studio

A linocut rendering of the Central Terminal by Danies Galas.
"All the elements for a single-serving meal (out west)" by Leif Low-beer.

Not Fade Away

The gargantuan centerpiece of the current Buffalo Arts Studio exhibit is a roughly 40-foot-long sculptural representation of the railroad Central Terminal building, recumbent, by artist Daniel Galas. Galas specializes in depictions of old buildings—he has a score or more of linocut prints of some of Buffalo’s finest—that reveal their basic aesthetic features, but also their rather worse-for-wear condition, translating in many cases to imperiled by the wrecking ball.

The linocut drawings show the structures typically bent under the weight of their geriatric years, tottering a little even, but not lying down. But the terminal is a special case. It has been subject to greater abuse—it could be argued—from interim owners and vandals of occasion, from political and financial schemes and skullduggery over decades, than any of the other great structures still standing (one thinks of the Larkin Company administration building, the Bethlehem Steel administration building, grain elevators that aren’t there anymore).

But bent under the weight of their years or lying down—out of weariness, we trust, not as on a death bed or a bier—the structures in linocut as well as in the sculpture reveal a human quality. As living, breathing, albeit with difficulty. And more than just vitalist, organic. Built structures as empathetic objects, no, subjects.

Architecture is described as living because of the human connection, liaison. Architecture is our environment, as much as the natural environment, the air we breathe. Involved in a vital exchange of metaphorical essential oxygen and carbon dioxide. Part of our human life process. Without it, we cannot live.

On a wall by the terminal building sculpture is the artist’s (comical if it were not tragic) cartoon history of the preservation vicissitudes of the structure from 1979, when Amtrak “moved to a box in Depew,” to 1997, when the city “takes [interim owner Sam Tuchman] to court for neglecting maintenance” of the complex, and “Judge Broderick tells him to sell it to a preservation group.” The Central Terminal Restoration Corporation, the present owner. The preservation suspense story continues.

Highlights of the cartoon history include: in 1986, interim owner Thomas Telesco buys the building from the city for taxes owed, and “the lies commence.” Telesco is shown in several cartoon frames wearing a “Raiders” jersey—for Oakland Raiders, presumably, the NFL team—and in one frame with some kind of odd tube up his nostril, some kind of cloudy or powdery stuff at the other end of the tube. Tuchman gets involved, and Telesco and Tuchman squabble in court about ownership. Attorneys get involved. The City takes Telesco to court for not maintaining the property. Lengthy court proceedings, followed by a warrant for Telesco’s arrest, who “flees to Miami and builds nightclubs.” And in 1995, Senator Moynihan “sends $1.5 million to Buffalo to restore the terminal…Mayor Masiello diverts funds to Shea’s [Theater] in downtown Buffalo.”

Don’t miss a peek around the back of the recumbent terminal. Resting on and concealing the head and torso of a guy we thus see only from the waist down, clad in Oakland Raiders sweatpants. Is cosmic justice preservationist biased?

The other artist in the current exhibit is Leif Low-Beer. His work is puzzling in the extreme. Framed doodle and abstract art on the walls and similar ilk graphic and sculptural work on the floor, laid out in areas delineated more or less with colored masking tape. Finally you figure out that the delineated areas are tables laden with sculptural food—dagwood sandwiches of multiple layers of rock and plastic and what have you, fabric spaghetti, molded plastic mac and cheese—and art, and around the tables, totemic sculptural people, balance constructions of rock and plastic with occasional anatomical parts suggestions, mostly G-rated. With art or mock art on the adjacent wall, in addition to the graphic art on the table, in addition to the rock and plastic food.

Maybe the titles of the individual works might help. Alas, not much. Here’s one, for one of the floor layout items: $2,505 eating out (4.01%) and $3,624 eating at home (5.8%) - (AAC). What? And for the framed work on the adjacent wall: Increases motivated response for food and energy intake. Or another, for the floor layout items: Exchange for mutual understanding (gone terribly wrong). And the framed work on the wall: Perfect neighbor (anxiety).

The Leif Low-Beer and Daniel Galas exhibits continue through November 9.

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