Artspace Settles in with First Exhibit

Buffalo, NY – Artspace residents have unpacked the boxes, hung the paintings on the walls, and are ready for company. The public is invited to come see their first resident art show, "Unpacking Artspace," Friday night at the Artspace Gallery. It features the work of more than 35 artists from the Artspace Buffalo community.

There's absolutely nothing pretentious about this high demand artspace. Although beautifully modern with its gleaming white walls, the building's rehabbed freight elevator and old warehouse doors paint the real story. Artspace is all about the work.

A ride up the stainless steel freight elevator takes us to the third floor where we enter the 1900 square foot loft occupied by painter Nathan Naetzker. His massive rottwheiler Jack comes bounding across the studio's polished ancient wood planking with his squeaky toy to meet us.

There's a bit of an echo off the 20 foot ceilings. But there's plenty of room here even for a hundred pound plus dog. And plenty of light and space for Naetzker to paint. He said the space and lower-cost housing free him to concentrate on his work.

That's important for Naetzker, who makes his living as a professional artist and art teacher. It is a great working environment that is in high demand. All 60 lofts are filled and there is a two to three-year waiting list of people from all over the country hoping for one of the subsidized lofts.

Some are professional artists from New York City who see the advantages of an affordable place to work and live. But Artspace also allows budding artists room to grow.

Joanna Gillespie is an art curator who lives in Artspace. She is coordinating Artspace's first exhibit. She said it will be the first exhibit for some of the residents. Gillespie said mixing aspiring artists with professionals who can mentor them is part of what Artspace is all about.

"They can learn the business side of how art works, which is getting organized, having your work ready to show and having a bio and some images available for press, and all of that stuff that isn't always taught," said Gillespie.

Finding someone to show them the ropes is as easy as walking down the hall.

Lukia Costello is a professional photographer and fine artist who lives in Artspace. Costello said helping other artists and acting as a liaison to the wider community is one reason Artspace appealed to her.

But Costello confesses that there are some selfish reasons for living in Artspace too. She said having a beautiful gallery right down stairs, that rivals the best New York Galleries, makes it ideal and really convenient to show her work. And Costello said getting her work ready to show is now a lot less hazardous.

"Well, I have a lot more space to work in. I have to say I'm injuring myself a lot less. I'm not running into frames and galss. It's really quite wonderful," said Costello. "Although, I have to ssay, it's just as much of a mess as it was before..."

She is certainly in good company. This community of artists readily admit that the nature of the work makes artists a somewhat messy and non-conventional bunch. There are dancers and writers and musicians and artists living here - and they don't keep banker's hours.

Painter Nathan Naetzker said it's nice to finally be among his peeps.

"It's just nice to be part of an artistic community, becaue I think as artists we're alone in our studios a lot, and then to come out in the hall and hear somebody making music or when you go outside at one in the morning to walk the dog and you see someone's light on, and you know they're up ther drawing a lot, it's just very inspiring and lights a fire under you," said Naetzker.

He said, "Artsists, we're kind of social outcasts, so it's good that we're all here together. It really makes it nice, a family-kind of atmosphere."

If you'd like to see what the Artspace family has been up to since they've unpacked, stop by for the opening of their first show Friday night. There will be music and dance, as well as some new pieces of art created especially for the exhibit.

The Unpacking Artspace exhibit opening is from 6:30 until 9:30 Friday night at the Artspace Buffalo Gallery on Main street.

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