Following is an interview with artist and expat Athena Page who is coming back to Buffalo for a special gallery showing at Hi-Temp Fabrication on Saturday, June 21, 2014.
What do you miss most about Buffalo?
The thing I miss about Buffalo the most would probably be the people. Growing up there, then moving and living in different cities, one thing that I quickly learned is that making friends in Buffalo is very easy, especially if you are doing anything creative that often requires of you to establish a network. Usually, if I meet someone new in Buffalo, there’s a pretty good chance that we have a mutual friend or two, or have spent a good amount of time at the same place– whatever it is, there is always something shared and communal that contributes to the comfort level of engaging with others within the social circles I’ve been involved with. Of course, I’ll always miss my dear family and my close friends too, but that just goes without saying!
What would you like to see happen in Buffalo’s future?
My parents keep me up to date with all of the developments in Buffalo, so something that not only would I like to see, but that I expect to already happen, would be an influx of interest in the arts and cultural scenes. In a city where the cost of living is still relatively low, where there is an excess of resources, and where there is a good network of people in place to support, promote, and curate an art scene we’ve already seen a very good amount of quality work being produced and if the local economy continues to grow, hopefully a market for artwork will be established to support artists.
How often do you make it home and why?
I make it home always for the holidays and usually a few trips during the summer to spend time with my family. This upcoming show will be my first time actually showing my paintings in Buffalo, which is a big deal for me, and I’m hoping that people enjoy my paintings and want to purchase them. I’ve always told my friends who want me to come back, if I could make it there doing what I love I’d have no problem coming back permanently. This show is actually somewhat of a litmus test to see whether or not that could be possible. I’d like to take the things I’ve learned during my time away from home and bring it back as my humble contribution to the art scene there, but more than anything I want to make art work that the people I spent my time with growing up can enjoy. It would be an ideal situation if my artwork could support more trips home!
What do you plan to do in Buffalo during your visit?
While I’m in Buffalo for my next visit I’ll definitely spend time with my mother and father and hopefully get to see some friends who I don’t get to see very often. I always have to stop by Kostas on Hertel, where I was a hostess for a couple years before I moved, and I’m excited to check out this place Ashker’s on Elmwood that everyone keeps telling me I’d love! I will definitely be making my rounds at the museums and galleries, but on this trip I am most excited to see Max Collins’ work on display at WYNBAC and the installation by David Mitchell and Joseph Stocker at Big Orbit. I’ve read about both shows and seen photos on instagram so I have a vague idea of what I can expect, but I have a feeling seeing the work in person at both galleries will be quite enjoyable.
What Buffalo artists do you admire?
Buffalo Artists I admire– well, not to be too over the top positive but there isn’t an artist in Buffalo that I don’t admire in some way. It’s a very difficult thing to try and do, and anyone working towards their goals deserves admiration, but if I had to name some names I would have to first go with Paul Sharits. I came across his name during my time at school while studying art history and only learned that he was from Buffalo later. His work and approach was so progressive, so for me as an artist trying to make progressive work now and being faced with potential failure, it is comforting to know that an artist from my hometown really made an impact. I am a painter, and Sharits primarily made installations, but what he achieved was making something beautiful that also had the power to challenge the way the viewer felt about art. As far as contemporary artists that are active right now, my favorites are as follows and in no specific order: David Mitchell, Max Collins, Ian de Beer, Marshall Schuettle, and Maude White. I won’t say right now which of the bunch are friends and which I am into solely based on their work haha.
How has Buffalo influenced your work?
Buffalo has greatly influenced my work… I doubt that there is an artist from anywhere who hasn’t been influenced by that place. Sometimes my thoughts were directed at an audience in my mind mainly composed of the people I was around while growing up. I don’t think Buffalo has necessarily influenced the aesthetic of the paintings I’m making at present. More than anything it has influenced the way that I understand the world and how I approach trying to make it as a working artist. Buffalo gave me my wings, so to speak.
Where did you grow up? Attend school?
I grew up in South Buffalo and attended Olmsted Public Schools and City Honors for high-school. My experiences at these schools greatly contributed to who I am today and I still keep in touch with many of my friends from my graduating class at City Honors. Actually, now that I think about it I haven’t seen the school since it was remodeled… perhaps I’ll have to add a visit there to the itinerary for this trip! haha…
Athena Page is currently living in Los Angeles.
Sad Girls | Hi-Temp Fab | 79 Perry Street Buffalo NY | Friday, June 13, 2014 | 8pm | Facebook |