Three years ago, Marcus Wise stepped into the space that now holds 464 Gallery not knowing the growth that would transpire there. It's hard to imagine that the clean, welcoming creative space that exists there now was once a less-than-appealing site to behold. One room was comprised of bare walls with exposed studs, severely damaged flooring and rusted gray ceilings. "It was a little scary at first," Wise said. "I thought, 'Can we actually make this happen?'"
Wise's journey to 464 actually began well before he bought the space. It started with his website, MindWeb
, where he showcased work from a handful of local artists. "I knew very little to almost nothing about running an art gallery," Wise said. "But I thought 'Hey, I work with artists, here's this space.'" And so it began...
Now, three years and many artists later, the gallery has shown serious growth--in more ways than one. Wise began working with 10 artists--to date, he has collaborated with close to 1,000, and all of them local. "At first, I wanted to provide a service for those who were like me," Wise said. "I had been stonewalled as an outside artist, I didn't have a masters." He hoped to create an outlet for artists who weren't closely linked to the academic world and easily provided a means with which to showcase their talent. Since the opening, he has hosted over 160 art events, including group shows, solo exhibits, student shows, book and media release events, fundraisers and parties. "I never thought it would get to this point," he said. "It's better than I could have hoped for."
In terms of physical growth, the gallery expanded into the space next door when Wise opened Blink Gallery in May of 2010 (closed in April 2011) and again in September 2011 when he worked his way into the space above the gallery, creating studios for resident artists to work from. And as the area for exhibiting local art increased, so too did the community's interest. Wise began doing gallery shows and hosting satellite shows at other locations in the city, and the Buffalo arts scene gained momentum. "It's kind of interesting how even though this is a physical location it has a broader reach than just this place," Wise said. "People are paying more attention to emerging artists. There's a lot more opportunities for them now."
And when 464 took off running, it helped to breathe a little life into the rest of the block. "Our little bit of success on the street has also helped bring in other businesses," Wise said.
With Wise providing the foundation, his stable of emerging artists has continued to keep the gallery thriving. "One of the really cool things is that the majority of the artists that I've met have become my friends," Wise said. "We all work together all the time, we collaborate, we help each other and we bounce ideas off each other. We're building family and we're building community."
While he maintains a strong bond with the artists whose careers he helps to cultivate, Wise works hard to get them exposure outside the walls of 464. "The idea is not just to be self-contained here at 464, but to get into other cities and other markets," he said. "What I once called my 'emerging artists,' I now like to call my 'evolving artists.' I've been inspired by a lot of them and they've kind of outgrown the space."
With that in mind, Wise has begun looking into opening a larger gallery space, possibly at a warehouse location where he could continue showcasing local talent, as well as bring in artists from out of town. "Buffalo is embracing the arts culture in a much more enthusiastic way than I've seen in a long time," he said. By removing the spatial limit from the equation, Wise and his crew of artists could let their creativity run free, experimenting with bigger installations and brand new ideas.
But until that time comes, the 464 family will enjoy celebrating the past three years the best way that they know how--with an evening of art, live music, food and good friends. The free event, which runs from 6 to 11 p.m. on Friday, February 10, will feature a group exhibit of works by local artists celebrating "the magic of threes," an interactive installation, and open walkthroughs of resident artists Marissa Lehner, Sally Rebl, Tara Sasiadek and Max Collins' studios (Collins will also perform live art at the event). Lloyd's Taco truck will be on site at 8 p.m. and local DJ duo Spooky Business, comprised of Sean T. Heidinger and Stephen Pieroni, will be performing upstairs.
Additionally, the third anniversary party will coincide with the launch of the completely revamped MindWeb site. Wise has given the website a serious functional facelift, adding elements such as calls for art, upcoming events, job opportunities, studio rentals and mini websites where artists can showcase their work. He hopes it will become a hub for artists to share information, not just locally, but throughout Western New York.
Thoughts from a few of the artists who thrive at 464...
"464 has been my lifeline to the arts in Buffalo: I have found incredible local talent, artist support, and limitless growth there." -Tara Sasiadek
"Since moving back to Buffalo last summer to pursue art full time, 464 has been huge for me. Not only have they provided me with my garage palace to make work, but a whole new network of people to interact with. Hanging around the gallery has been able to introduce me to other local artists and plug me into the community of people and organizations that use 464 as their hub, which has really helped and inspired me as a young artist trying to connect with the city." -Max Collins
"My experience with 464 Gallery and Marcus has been great. I put together my first solo show there last year and it was an all around great experience. I learned a lot about putting together a show and Marcus worked with me every step of the way. Now, one year later, I'm doing another show at 464, "Breed"(opening March 9th) and it's really interesting to see how Marcus, 464, and I've grown over the past year. This is an exciting time at 464." -Rich Tomasello
464 Amherst Street
Buffalo, NY 14207