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Built Buffalo

Built Buffalo
Scenes of things in the city at Western New York Artists Group

In portraying Buffalo and immediate environs, artists of the Western New York Artists Group show themselves true romantics. In love with the city. And with a pretty romanticized view of it. It makes for some beautiful works. But you wonder if you’re getting the whole picture. The group current exhibit at their gallery at One Linwood Avenue is called “Artists See Buffalo.” It comprises several score artworks by almost as many artists.

They love the cylinder-form grain elevators and truss-form steel girder bridges, the mix of old industrial remains and struggling but surviving and maybe soon to be thriving again natural environment in old industrial areas along the Buffalo River and lake waterfront. They love the commercial and residential architecture, the monumental buildings—the Prudential Building, City Hall, the New York Central Terminal building—and more humble and familiar wood-frame domiciles. They love the picturesque and photogenic qualities of the city, the sailboats in the marinas, the downtown skyline seen from the seventh floor of a building on the West Side, and less spectacular but just as interesting cityscape to the north, seen from the same seventh floor. But in either case, Buffalo viewed from afar.

(Do they love the people? Hard to say. There’s little evidence to go on. They avoid showing people in the pictures. A couple of sailors on a War of 1812 era sailing ship on Lake Erie, in a photo about the ship, not the sailors. That’s about it for people.)

But lovely work, from a variety of impressionist technique oil paintings to sketchy-like, rapid-capture watercolors, to near-photo-realist paintings, to hard-edge geometric ink and graphite works.

From Ann Stievater, the several views from the seventh floor on the West Side, and a landscape depiction of the city south to north, viewed from Canada. From Carol Mathewson, several plein air paintings, one of the city seen from Grand Island, one of a rowboat on the bank of what must be the Buffalo River, the river proper in the mid-ground, and in the background, the other bank of the river, thickly vegetated, and in the distance behind the vegetation, some portions of industrial buildings and mechanism. The work is called Industry and Pleasure. And from Julie McIndoo, a watercolor of a small religious procession—processors in liturgical garb—outside Our Lady of Victory Basilica, with no sign of street traffic or commotion in and around that usually busy intersection. Almost as if a rural setting.

John Pacovsky’s lush acrylic on canvas painting shows gleaming white sailboats in a marina on a sunny summer day, their tall masts reaching high above into the cerulean sky, and in reflection equally far below into the placid, even darker blue water. The work is called Your Slip is Showing. Karen Carbonara’s geometric work shows a jumble segment of ironwork superstructure of the Broderick Park lift bridge over the canal.

Tom Matyas has a photo of the Cargill Pool Elevator socked in by a blinding winter storm. Just about the only hint throughout the show that the weather in Buffalo isn’t always seventy degrees and sunny.

The centerpiece and largest work by far in the show is a huge montage dream vision version of the waterfront and related ongoing projects by painter George Gilham, in his characteristic pixilation representation technique. Dominated by the skyway, which he makes into a kind of overarching lovingly embracing feature. Buffalo’s version of the St. Louis gateway arch.

The WNYAG artists’ show continues through May 29. Next door, at the Art Dialogue Gallery, Five Linwood, but accessible through One Linwood, is an exhibit of the serio-comic art of Donald Scheller, also continuing through May 29.

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