As the owner of two local art galleries, founding president of Emerging Leaders in the Arts Buffalo (ELAB), and perhaps the strongest advocate for hundreds of emerging artists in our city, Marcus Wise has played a huge role in cultivating the local arts scene at a grassroots level. His spaces – 464 Gallery on Amherst Street and Glow Gallery on Allen Street – have helped over 750 local artists gain local exposure. He’s also been a central organizer of numerous arts events, including the annual City of Night exhibit at Silo City and Echo Art Fair.
Aside from his tireless work pushing new talent, supporting the arts citywide, and helping revitalize the street that 464 Gallery calls home, Wise is also, believe it or not, an artist. His fine art photography has appeared in numerous juried shows, art fairs, festivals and galleries throughout the Western New York region, New York City and Pittsburgh.
Needless to say, it’s high time for Wise to lay down his supporter/activist/organizer hats for one night and get back to his artistic roots. After spending several years hosting solo shows to promote the work of other artists, Wise will finally hold his first solo exhibition within Buffalo’s city limits.
Wise’s show – “Identity” – will open at El Museo Gallery on Friday, Feb. 7 during the Allentown First Friday Walk. “Identity” will be an autobiographical collection of new and previously unseen photographs that reflect on how his personality and identity have been shaped by living outside the mainstream.
“’Identity’ is an abstract autobiography of my experience as an outsider,” Wise writes in his artist statement. “I grew up the only non-white kid in my suburban community. I came out publicly at school and at home at the age of 15. I dropped out, moved out, and became a part of Buffalo’s fringe communities- gay youth, and drug culture. I was always on the outside of the mainstream. Others defined my identity by what I was not to them.
“It wasn’t until much later in life that I accepted the things that make me different, and chose to celebrate them. In embracing my independently created identity, I found a new community in which I have since made my home.
In “Identity”, I have created and photographed mini-installations that form abstract landscapes or stories that suggest and reflect the beauty of being divergent, different, challenging and changing what is considered to be the norm.”
The show opening will be held at El Museo (91 Allen Street) from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday. It will remain on exhibit through March 21. Complimentary food and drinks will be provided at the opening, which is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Facebook event page.