Community Canvases is a Public Art and Community Development initiative seeking to create and promote public art and beautification projects that will draw artists, communities and neighborhoods together throughout Western New York.
A big thank you to Alex Cornwell, Jim Montour, Delaware District Council Member Michael J. LoCurto, the Buffalo Art Commission, the Elmwood Village, and everyone involved in the project!
The Heart of Buffalo Step by Step
I started today (Saturday morning) at around 11 am after stopping into the Elmwood Village Association where we were greeted by Jim Montour, co-founder and president of Community Canvases. I picked up my Community Canvases t-shirt and headed to my signal box on the corner of Elmwood Ave. and W. Delavan.
What a wonderful day of painting I had! Such a great opportunity to display public art. Not only did I get to paint all day, but interacting with the people in the neighborhood was a priceless experience. People were very supportive all day and as an artist, I really appreciate that so much. Loved the thumbs up, beeps, waves, thank yous, interviews, taking photos with everyone. It was a full, fun day, and gorgeous weather we did have! Everyone was out enjoying it. This truly is the heart of Buffalo.
I packed it up at around 7 pm with about 90% of it done. I have to go back and put the finishing touches on it, paint the back, the handle, and around the signal button.
There are 12 other amazing artists doing signal boxes up and down Elmwood Avenue and will be out in forces tomorrow! I’m looking forward to seeing them all myself!
I drove a 1977 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale, exactly like the one above, with my new husband from Buffalo to New Mexico after leaving college in the 90s. We got married after knowing each other a whopping 6 months, gave most of our clothes and possessions to a charity called ‘The Friends of the Night People’ and left.
This was hard for my family to grasp and watch, understandably. At the time I think I really wanted to get away from the negative influences in my life and thought I needed a drastic change.
Living off the grid in a 9-family village in Mora, New Mexico may have been a little extreme.
I worked at the one and only gas station in town. I remember measuring the gas level by inserting a long wooden measuring stick in the ground and writing down the number. Why they hired me I have no idea, I was not fluent in Spanish, but I knew my numbers and that is all I spoke all day..uno~dos~tres, gracias.
Travelers stopped here on the 518 going from Las Vegas to Taos (great art community) which was 45 minutes away. So on occasion, I’d meet people from the ‘East coast’ which was nice because it reminded me of home and I could speak English.
Although I loved it there I never felt like I fit in and it never felt like home. I did not have the comforts I was used to, but I felt this was good for me. No cell phones back then, no computer, amazing to think how things have changed.
I used to write letters to my mother and best friend and send photos of mountains, animals, and adobe houses similar to the ones below. In my lousy attempt to try to take artistic photos rather than of people and fun events, I’m pretty sure they were concerned.
Rightfully so, as time went by I got lonely and homesick. I was pregnant with my first child and we did not have the money or resources needed to fully enjoy the experience of ‘self-reliance’.
I did learn a thing or two! To sum up my top three, I learned how to break and ride a horse, shoot a gun, and drive a stick shift (in a powder blue Ford pickup similar to this).
I learned a lot about the rich history of the surrounding area, learned how to be extremely resourceful with very little and love nature.
If I had to describe living there to kids today I would say it was like an extremely boring reality tv show, Survivor: New Mexico?
There’s No Place Like Home
I came home to Buffalo on a first class plane ticket my mother bought me when I was three months pregnant. Basically, rescue mission accomplished. I came back because I wanted my son (who is now 17) to know my family growing up.
A few years ago he went on a two-week trip to New Mexico and Colorado with his dad, grandpa, uncle. I was really happy he got to see where we lived, get in touch with his Spanish roots, and meet and visit with all of his relatives.
I’m also happy he grew up with both sides of his family around here.
I find myself thinking about my time there a lot lately and reflecting on how quickly the past twenty years have flown by. I have been thinking about all of the people we have lost in that time too.
I barely recognize myself when I look at these pictures, yet some things never change. I am still an artist type person, I see the same creative spirit I’ve always had. I still take serious and dull, depressing pictures. I still make a lot of mistakes and fail. I still love to learn new things. I still drive secondhand cars at least 10 years old…
and I can still see the sunshine through the clouds.
How About a Little Art?
I haven’t posted my art here in a little while. I’ve been on a hiatus, more often referred to as ‘creative block’ or ‘too busy’ (combo of all three). So as suggested by a friend, I did some smaller works which worked out nicely!
Free Spirit | 2013 | Mary Claire | Acrylic on canvas 8 x 10 x 3/4″
Me and My Shadow | 2013 | Mary Claire | Acrylic on canvas 8 x 10 x 3/4″
Tribes | 2013 | Mary Claire | Acrylic on canvas 8 x 10 x 3/4″