Buffalo Obscura is proud to host 5 artists throughout the months of October 2020 through February 2021 in an ongoing series of art installations in the Main / Lafayette Avenue window at the Record Theatre, 1800 Main Street, Buffalo, NY. The project makes art accessible to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic while maintaining social distancing guidelines. The Record Theatre store was the first of six stores to open its doors throughout the 1970s in Buffalo, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Rochester, and Syracuse. In 2017, it was the last of the 21-store chain to close for good, marking the end of an era in Buffalo. Now vacant, the building remains a place of meaning to Buffalo music lovers who shopped there over a 41 year history. In 2019, the Record Theatre complex was acquired by a preservation-oriented development partnership with plans to restore and reactivate the site. Participating artists include Lauren Braun, Julian Montague, Rachele Schneekloth, Cat Willitt and Miggie Wong.
“My memories of growing up in Buffalo have a patina of Rust Belt colors and textures. The body of work inspired by these memories, Rust Belt Collages, is an homage to resurgence, growth, renovation and renewal–ideas that have taken on an additional layer of meaning throughout this past year. On view in the Record Theatre window are snippets, small details that exist separately from the original collages that were created using a variety of drawing and painting materials on paper.”
Lauren Braun is a visual artist based in Pittsburgh, PA. She works in a variety of media including paper collage, painting with inks on paper, and drawing. She has participated in residencies at the Pittsburgh Glass Center and the Vermont Studio Center. She was a 2018 Emerging Artist at the Three Rivers Arts Festival. She earned a BFA from Syracuse University and an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University. In addition to private collections, her work is included at the PA Convention Center in Philadelphia, and the corporate collection of PNC Bank.
Julian designed these public health posters during the Covid-19 lock down in the spring of 2020.
Julian Montague is an artist, graphic designer and illustrator based in Buffalo. His conceptual art work spans a wide range of mediums and approaches, from multi-year conceptual projects to abstract paintings. At one time I was known for a long term art project dedicated to developing an elaborate taxonomy for identifying stray shopping carts. More recently I’ve been working on making exhibition posters and other ephemera for a fictional 1970s art institution.
Cat’s portraits of three female musicians from Buffalo honor Record Theatre, the place that exposed her to the music that shaped her world as a child growing up in Buffalo, as well as the womxn that faced odds and struggle to share their vision with the masses.
These musicians include Carlena Williams, a vocalist who was born in Buffalo in 1942, and went on to sing with Pink Floyd, Donna Summers, The Carpenters, Etta James, as well as creating her own music; Kristen Pfaff, born in Buffalo in 1967 who later became the bassist for the band Hole, and dedicated much of her life to standing up against violence toward womxn; and Nina Morgana, born in Buffalo in 1891, who performed as a child at the Pan-American Expo and went on to sing with the Metropolitan Opera from 1920-1935.
Cat Willett is a Brooklyn-based illustrator holding her MFA from the Fashion Institute of Technology in Illustration. She primarily works digitally, or with ink on paper, and her drawings depict strong female figures, deeply rooted in history with a bit of whimsy. Her illustration work has been featured by Apple, Madison Square Garden, Adobe, and the NYC Department of Transportation.
“Lightened Record Theater” is an installation which celebrates the power of records in a colorful and theatrical arrangement. Hundred of “records”/circles (made with transparent color films) will be arranged and displayed on and behind the angled windows. Based on the light source from both indoor and outdoor, “records” will be lightened up in various colors. This visual installation of the colorful records express a tribute to the audio records which once were sold in this historic record theater.
Miggie Wong creates situation-based performance projects. Her intercultural experiences across several countries has diversified her artistic awareness coupled with her own ideals. As such, she offers whimsical experiments that explore and document ideas of social interaction, cultural mutation, radical hospitality, and acts of sincerity.
Wong is a native of Hong Kong and holds a BFA in Arts from California Institute of the Arts. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA and Buffalo, NY.
Rachele has lived, learned, and worked in Buffalo, the City of No Illusions, for most of her life. She is a 5th grade teacher at Elmwood Village Charter School. You can see more of her photographs at photoblog.com/racheleschneekloth.
“Since the early days of the pandemic, during the shock of our lockdown, through the fierce strength of the continuing racial justice protests, into our uneasy and uncertain fall, I have been exploring and visiting Buffalo neighborhoods, street corners, bike paths, parking lots, playgrounds, underpasses, stoops and bus stops, parks and public spaces to take photographs, to meet and talk to people, to ask questions, to build relationships and connections by returning with printed photos in hand and engaging in longer conversations. I have learned so much about our city. Many of us and our neighbors endure terrible hardships, outrageous inequities, and personal and collective trauma. At the same time, Buffalo is teeming with surprises and delights. Everywhere around you, if you look, you can see and participate in endeavors of love and care, art, creativity, work and relaxation, worship, self-expression, connection and community, protest, humor, and playfulness. I urge everyone to look at the dignity and power and humanity all around you. Look at these complex, brave, beautiful, wise, vulnerable people, with full, rich lives. During these difficult times, let’s see each other and remember that we are all truly here, now, in this together.”