Over the past decade preservationists and developers have managed to redefine the role that many of our oldest and most vulnerable structures play in the lives of WNY residents. If not for their efforts, the Central Terminal, Silo City and the Hotel Lafayette might have been best known to the public through the debates that raged over if these supposed “eyesores” should be torn down. Few people were aware that these venues were amongst the most painted, sketched and photographed locations in the Buffalo area. Photographers in particular have created a huge body of work based upon their desire to historically document these locations to prove to future generations that they did indeed exist.
Some of these photographers were less interested in the documentation perspective and more so in presenting these buildings as artistic subjects. Local photographer Steve Siegel counts himself among those who has found inspiration in these buildings and has spent the past year photographing all three locations. Beginning on November 16, a collection of his photographs entitled Buffalo’s Iconic Structures – A Study in Light, Shape and Texture will be on display at the Queen City Gallery in the Market Arcade Building.
Siegel elaborates: “Through the predominately black and white photographs in this exhibit, I have attempted to “decontextualize” all 3 of these iconic structures and the viewer might not immediately recognize where these photos were taken. My goal was to refrain from shooting shots that would immediately identify the “place” and instead, treat these venues as blank canvases and observe how, over time, forces have continued to change these buildings. I have relied upon 3 basic tenets of photography – light, shape and texture – to inform my photographic choices. These visible changes might be brought about through centuries of neglect or perhaps by fleeting changes brought about by the subtle movement of clouds and sunlight. Many of these photos, if taken 15 minutes earlier or later, would look very different than they do in the captured shot.”
“When I photographed these venues, I tried to make what many see as urban decay look, if not beautiful, at least atmospheric. When photographing at, for example “Silo City,” there exists a very fine line in an emotional sense, between a picture that perhaps unintentionally supports the contention of those who view the silos as ugly monstrosities that need to be torn down and a photo that simultaneously invokes the beauty of what they once were as well as conveys the hope of what they can be in the future. This is a delicate balancing act that an artist must work very hard to achieve.”
Buffalo’s Iconic Structures – A Study in Light, Shape and Texture will be on display at the Queen City Gallery in the Market Arcade Building, 617 Main St. from November 16 to December 7, with an opening reception on the 16th from 6-9 PM.