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Jay Santori’s Amazing Grace

There are very few things that I know for sure, but I do know that I have the coolest t-shirt in the world and I am not referring to my vintage 1980’s pink Go-Go’s t-shirt.  I stumbled on one of Jay Sartori’s t-shirts at the La Petite Fleur Boutique at the Junior League’s decorator show house this past spring.  The t-shirt is a screen print of one of Jay’s original, black and white pencil drawings of a Buffalo.  What makes this Buffalo unique is that it is a beautiful maze, bearing no resemblance to the simplistic, symmetrical maze of Ms. Pac Man.   Jay’s mazes are a complex series of pathways and branches that create a picture with related phrases and words woven into the maze.  Jay claims 9 words are woven into the Buffalo maze drawing on my t-shirt: Buffalo, Queen City, Delaware Park, Buffalo Bills, Bandits, Sabres, Allbright-Knox, Snow and Wings.  I still can’t find Bandits!.

Something about Jay’s maze drawing reminds me of Edvard Munch’s, ‘The Scream’.  After studying my Buffalo maze for hours hunting, searching, seeking out the words, I wanted to scream and I wanted to learn more about the sadist-I mean artist-who created this maze.  I learned that Jay is a twenty-something who stumbled on his unique talent in middle school.  While traditional subjects proved challenging to Jay, art was a natural and he expressed himself through his maze drawings.  His pencil travels across paper using lines and geometric patterns to create recognizable images and he somehow weaves words related to his subject into the overall picture.

Jay says he feels most calm when drawing his very confusing, very hectic mazes.  Jay has no formal art training, and has never found a school or studio that offers a class on mazes.  His Mom who doubles as his agent and Public Relations manager, told me that the one formal art class he took, was a true challenge.    Still life, portraiture, water color theory, collage are all subjects taught and studied at universities and studios around the world, but the art of the maze is a neglected and overlooked topic.

Jay has learning disabilities including severe dyslexia which makes reading and other traditional forms of communication and expression like writing a difficult task.  His mazes encompass a wide variety of subjects from military equipment like planes and armored vehicles to divine, celestial concepts like archangels and guardian angels as well as more mundane subjects like flowers and animals.  His art, his ability to manipulate a complex series of lines into a beautiful maze is his form of expression.  Instead of screaming, does Jay channel his frustration into something beautiful and thought provoking like his Buffalo drawing?  Perhaps what is complex and confusing to me, is simple and clear to him like his love of our city, his interest in the spiritual world and his observation of nature.

Jay’s work can be purchased on line at, at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society and local art shows like the upcoming Allentown Art Festival (Allen West).

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