On May 7, 2012 I wrote an article titled “Buffalo Will Rise Again… and I want to be there for it.” The story was written about a Buffalo expat artist by the name of Vincent Alejandro who was looking to move back to Buffalo (see here). Just yesterday I received an email from Vincent. Apparently he raised enough money in one year’s time to make the trek back to Buffalo, along with his family… including his wife who had never stepped foot in this city until a recent visit. Hopefully I will have the pleasure of covering Vincent’s first gallery opening when he arrives and settles in. To think that he raised the money to move back home by selling works of art, many of which depicted the city that he was so desperately trying to reach! Following is the email in its entirety:
Well it’s been a little over a year since you did the story on me and my dream of moving back to Buffalo, so I figured you would want an update and a possible “feel good story” haha. A lot has happened since then. I came home in May of 2012 with my wife who is from Missouri to visit my family and friends and show her the city I grew up in. We came in from Missouri along the lake and I couldn’t resist cutting off of 90 over to Route 5 at Westfield to go through Dunkirk where my father used to take me fishing off of the pier. We then came to Silver Creek and I jumped on to Lakeshore Road and we cruised by Evangola State Park where we went camping A LOT and down through Lake Erie Beach past Stroh’s watering hole. We drove in to Evans by Mickey Rats, and having been away from home for years Connor’s was the perfect place to have lunch and give my wife her first taste of WNY grub.
After scarfing down two dogs apiece, my wife says to me, “Can we move now?” and it made me smile. She hadn’t seen anything yet. We got on our way and my wife marveled at the views from Wanakah and Hamburg Park and the skyline of the city that you could see from there. Finally, an image to put with all of my stories and rants and raves about home. We got off at Ohio Street, and being from the old First Ward I immediately noticed the change in the roads by Tifft Farm (Tifft Nature Preserve) and the Small Boat Harbor.
We came through Silo City and over the Ohio Street lift bridge and my wife says “How beautiful”, exactly my thoughts (lead photo). We drove down Saint Clair to Child Street and we arrived at the new Mutual Rower’s Park or as we in The Ward called it “The Foot of Hamburg” and I was blown away. The transformation was just about done (complete now) and it was such an amazing thing to see, having stood on that edge years earlier when it was filled with floating debris and muskrats. We hopped back in the car and went to see my family that we were staying with there in The Ward. After the usual coffee chatter, and of course wings and pizza from Carbone’s, my wife and I finally crashed out after our 16 hour trek.
The next morning we woke up super early and set out to see the city… I became the tour guide in my hometown. Coffee and a stop at Mazurek’s Bakery and straight to Niagara Falls.
My wife loved it all. From Canalside to the Zoo, The History Museum and a stellar view from the top of City Hall and her first fish fry at Hoak’s, she was hooked.
After the week we spent there, the trip back to Missouri was the longest I had ventured on. We talked about how we could possibly move to Buffalo in the future and how to make it happen.
With my art career kicking in to gear I decided that there might be a way to “paint my way home”. I began a series of paintings I called “The Buffalo Series” of landmarks around Buffalo (some gone) and started selling prints of them to help in the process of relocating. They became very popular with family and friends back in Buffalo and eventually I was selling prints at a good clip. All going into the savings. Eventually I started doing commissioned paintings of people’s homes and businesses which also gave a good boost to the plans.
Well this went on through the winter and the dream is now becoming a reality. We put away plenty of funds for the move and some padding and set a date. We both have jobs locked in and we even rented a place from an old family friend in, you guessed it, The Ward, about a block away from the community center I once frequented. I have jumped full steam
into the art community there, including joining ELAB and I just recently entered an art competition that I will arrive in time for.
So we missed out on having that beer we talked about on my last visit but since I will be arriving August 30th with my family and the Uhaul I think we can make it happen. The first one is on me and I’m thinking it will probably be at McCarthy’s so we can both enjoy one of those new First Ward Brewing Company brews that should be coming soon.
Here is a clip (video) from the local news in Joplin of their farewell story to me and some pics of the Buffalo Series and a few other recent paintings.
Can’t wait to take you up on your beer offer Vinny.
I have a feeling that we will be hearing a lot more from you (along with your hometown-inspired artwork) in the near future. What a nice surprise to hear that this move home is coming sooner rather than later. Safe travels my friend.