I've known artist Frank Cravotta for most of my life. As a matter of fact, Frank, who moved back to Buffalo from Baltimore in 2005, was the inspiration behind this series of artist interviews called 'Art Buff'. As much as I think I may know something about Frank's artwork, the wonderful thing about artists is the element of surprise. Did you know that Frank was the guy who painted the mural of the Niagara Square lion on Delaware Avenue? I didn't. The only reason I even found out was because I sat down with him to discuss his latest work of art called 'Wave 5' (lead image - commissioned by Bacchus on Chippewa). During the course of our recent discussion, I asked Frank what other public works of art he had designed, and that's when he mentioned the iconic Manny's mural (the lion) - an answer that ended a mystery for me, as I had always wondered who the muralist was. Ultimately I figured that, by conducting a series of artist interviews, I would begin to uncover other art-related mysteries in Buffalo.
Before I get to the interview at hand, I must first relay the rest of our conversation. Frank and I discussed what it was like to be a local artist in Buffalo - in particular, "How could local artists land more commissions such as the one that Frank got from Bacchus?" How do you get your work in front of developers and business owners? In order to cultivate our cultural stock, we need to unearth and highlight what's within our own community as far as artistic resources go. In the end, I suppose that 'added exposure' is the answer, and that is how this series came to be.
As the Art Buff series continues, be sure to explore the respective artists' Facebook, web page, etc. In the meantime, take a closer look at 'Wave 5' - a permanent 6' tall x 4.5' wide (30" off the wall) stainless steel wall sculpture now hanging near the entranceway of Bacchus. The piece is a sort of optical illusion, and depending on the viewing angle and the way the light hits it, the steel ribbons almost look transparent. Frank also has a photography show hanging on the walls of the restaurant, featuring shots that he took of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.
Interview with Frank Cravotta Director of Creative Services • Buffalo Sabres
Where are you from originally?
What is your medium?
This piece is bent stainless steel
How has Buffalo influenced your work?
Buffalo does not have an impact on my work, I love the history and architecture of the city but Buffalo itself has little influence.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Most of the sculptural work I have done has an organic feel, this latest work was made to look like flowing water.
Who is the artist that most inspires you?
Dale Chihuly, he is a master at his craft. His work is fine art but also needs to engineered to make very fragile objects work together in insanely difficult arrangements.
What is your preferred subject matter?
Brushed steel, stainless steel and plexiglass
How do you feel you can best advance to the next level, or are you most happy where you are now?
My job at the Sabres keeps me very busy, if I had more time I think I would be to take sculptural work to the next level.
^Conceptual design for Sabres locker room and Hall of Fame display
What is another medium that you would like to learn? Or that you have already learned?
I would really like to learn how to weld. I would also like to incorporate lighting into my work.
Is there a purpose to your artwork?
Not really, I like shape, form and shadow. This piece (Wave 5) seems to defy gravity.
^Steer head mural at The Steer on Main Street | Niagara Square lion mural on Delaware Avenue
How often do you work on your art?
With my job, I am creative on a daily basis. I get to work on sculpture and photography projects only a few times a year.
What or who first prompted you to venture into the art world?
My grandmother, she would give me a check every time I brought over a Lego house that I made. The checks were never signed but I was hooked from a very young age on creating dimensional art.
Have you been schooled in art? Are you planning on attending art school? If so, where?
I have a degree in Industrial Design from Syracuse University
^National trade show work
Where did you learn your craft?
Syracuse University and Hadley Exhibits
(Hadley is an Exhibit Design firm in Buffalo)
What book are you reading right now?
Steve Jobs bio
What's the best thing about being an artist?
Having people question your work
What's the worst thing about being an artist?
Having people question your work