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Art, Destruction, and Where the Two Meet

464 Gallery owner Marcus Wise opened a show at his Amherst Street gallery last week, entitled “Doors Closed,” to open concurrently with the 8th Annual Binational Doors Open Niagara event.

The show runs until November 15th and features the works of seven photographers (below), who highlight “scenes of closed down, long abandoned, or already demolished locations.”  The description goes further to say that the exhibit “brings you into the realm of the forgotten…the rarely seen decaying architecture and significant industry of the past.”
Not so forgotten, perhaps, and not so rarely seen these days.  How about Viktoria Ciostek’s exhibit, “Zones of Discard,” that just played at the Grant Street Gallery, or Clark Dever’s “Witness the Destruction,” a comparison of post-Katrina New Orleans with post-industrial Buffalo?  Then there’s the forsaken and long-forgotten images from “Silent Insanity: Asylums Unraveled” at Doreen DeBoth’s Artsphere, who just last month exhibited “Ecologies of Decay“.  Let’s not forget Dennis Maher’s installations using materials from demolitions.
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I understand these art exhibits for the statements they make, the stunning images they create and moody emotion they provoke.  Thinking back to when it took me three days to recover from a drive around the abandoned homes on the East Side, I have to say I’ve become somewhat inured to the art’s subject matter, though more dedicated to its reversal.  However, I appreciate that there are always new eyes, new minds that need to witness, and so this art brings it to them.  Let’s say I’ve begun to see more art and less hopelessness because I’ve made it my business to understand the things that are being done to combat the forces of decay, slow-moving and sometimes wayward, but there nevertheless.  This is art that makes the viewer think and want to do, long after it makes them feel.
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Just this morning I was contacted by someone who was acting as liaison to a duo of architecture/planning students from Denmark who are in town as part of an independent study project.  They are about to open a multi-disciplinary show called “Envisioning Wastelands,” that is supposed to have a problem-solving component that will rework one abandoned Buffalo space in particular.  They also hope to publish an essay concerning their work right here on BRO.  I am told that though their chief draw was that of a post-industrial city with some serious ruins, they have many positive things to say about what they’ve found in Buffalo.  Look for an interview with them in the next few days.
In the meanwhile, you might get out to see some of these shows.  The one at 464 is stunning, and whether you’ve never looked at the ruins before, or you’re only able to look at them now because you feel they’ll vanish through eventual demolition or rehabilitation, I would say they’re worth seeing.  There’s an art to it, and then there’s the hope that solutions will be born of it.  Some day, way in the future, these artful documentations may be the last vestige of Buffalo’s ruins.  These artists and you, their audience, may be a big part of that.
All images from 464 Gallery.  Top: Sattler Theater by Timothy Neesam.  Central Terminal by Tammy Hoy.
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