Welcome to Painting for Preservation!

Welcome to Painting for Preservation! This initiative, founded by artist Sara M. Zak, is aimed at drawing attention to distressed, at-risk, and under-utilized historic locations through on site art making.

Mission: To bring together artists of all media in support of historic distressed properties and communities. To create artwork on-site related to the location as a means of raising positive awareness of the space.

My hope is that we can continue this effort in Buffalo and expand the concept to other architecturally rich cities. Please e-mail Sara M. Zak if you are interested in starting a Painting for Preservation initiative in your city at info@paintingforpreservation.org

Our goals:

1. Raise awareness of at-risk, distressed and under-utilized locations and their neighborhoods

2. Create a record of historically rich locations through art

3. Create a community of artists invested in the urban landscape

4. Bring exposure and provide assistance to artists interested in documenting at-risk historic neighborhoods while also collaborating with members of those same neighborhoods.

5. Involve communities in sharing their stories of local historic architectural and their neighborhoods.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Reflections on the First Year of Bringing Art and Preservation Together in Buffalo

Painting for Preservation came to develop organically and collaboratively bringing two of Bufflao's greatest community assests together: art and preservation. The group started in March and through September held nine gatherings of artists and preservationists to artisitcally document and creatively discuss historic places throughout Buffalo. For artists working in the urban environment it is a place to work alongside collegues and friends; and for preservationists it is a whole new perspective and level of appreciation of historic architecture. The group is inclusive and eclectic and welcomes community participation.

The movement was founded by Sara M. Zak, fine artist regularly working with distressed and difficult environments, among them empty cornerstores, abondoned gas stations, and bird's eyes perspective of entire neighborhoods wrecked by disinterest and disinvestment. Once developed into a group and regular event, with the help of Preservation-Ready Sites and the Niagara Frontier Plein-Air Painters, the goals developed to include:
  • Raise awareness of at-risk, distressed and under-utilized locations and their neighborhoods
  • Create a record of historically rich locations through art
  • Create a community of artists invested in the urban landscape
  • Bring exposure and provide assistance to artists interested in documenting at-risk historic neighborhoods while also collaborating with members of those same neighborhoods.
  • Involve communities in sharing their stories of local historic architectural and their neighborhoods.
Our message was particularly well-recieved at Lyth Cottage, as it was recently purchased as a single-family home by an enthusiastic young citizen. We are also grateful for the welcoming community of Saint Adalbert Bascilia's Parish when we joined them in their campaign against the Buffalo Diocese to keep the remarkably well-preserved and solvent parish open. It has unfortunately been closed but the photographs and artwork of that Sunday morning remains as a reminder of the building and communities aura.

The most visible and controversial P4P location was St. Mary's on the Hill, a ca. 1897 church and adjacent guild house, that was long vacant and neglected leading to its ultimate demolished during the Art-In. Many artists included the crane and backhoe in their renderings. True to its mission, many Painting for Preservation participants, particularly photographers returned over the many days of demolition to document the diminishing property. These will be a record of the unnecessary loss of this historic asset.

The original opening of ART + PRESERVATION took place during the National Preservation Conference, the annual meeting of the National Trust for Historic Preservation on Wednesday, October 18, 2011. Buffalo was collectively looking forward to this event for several years since it was announced that over 2,500 preservationists would be exploring our City. The Conference broke a 10 year attendance record and brought a renewed enthusiasm to Buffalo's restoration and rehabiltiation projects and also spurred frequent positive media attention of our historic assets. It has many times been said that Buffalo's architectural heritage is deserving of more local attention, simply because it is already known nationally, and even internationally.

It was a pleasure to share many of Buffalo's historic places as they were uniquely illustrated by Painting for Preservation artists. For preservationists, ART + PRESERVATION offered yet another perspective to the beauty of classical architecture, in all states of repair and disrepair. The public opening took place during the annual meeting of Preservation Buffalo Niagara, the regional preservation advocacy organization, on Monday, November 14, 2011, and boosted attendance of over 200.

Participating artists in ART + PRESERVATION includes: Sara M. Zak, Meagan Baco, Michael T. Harmon, Amanda Maciuba, Dana Saylor-Furman, and Steve Siegel as well as, Tim Raymond, Mark Severson, Michael Mulley, Joan Langley Shaw, Bernice Smith, Casey William Milbrand, Amanda Hippert, Anna Laurie Miller, Michelle Schroeder, Donna Hale, Kath Schiafano, Matthew Measer, Carol Siracuse, Diane Goupil, Elizabeth Leader, William Hutchinson, Suzanne Kashuba, Eillen Elibol, Sara DiNatale, John Farallo, Patrick Willett, Francisco Amaya, Mary Lou Frost, Ann Peterson, Robert Schulman, Sharon Morgante, James Marino, Charles Bartolotta, Paulette Rozwood, Eileen MaNamara, Bill Battaglia, Tara Sasiadek, Joshua Nickerson, Lee Bergwell Hanks, Joyce Hill, Mary Kutas, Linda B. Ludwing, Ruth Mohn, Linda Piper, Thom Neill, Evan Hawkins, David Wiedemer, David Manny, Kate S. Parzych and Phil Durgan.

Painting for Preservation would like to thank Mark Croce, owner of Statler Towers; the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Preservation Buffalo Niagara for their collective hosting of ART + PRESERVATION. A special thanks for contributing funds, resources and expertise goes to "See Hear Feel Touch Learn - Experience Art," Hallways Contemporary Arts Center, CEPA Gallery, and John Shotwell.

More information about the history and current condition of all of the sites visited by Painting for Preservation is available below. If you have additional questions or want to suggest locations, email Meagan at info@paintingforpreservation.org.
  1. Old Blacksmith's Shop, Cobblestone District, 120 South Park Avenue - Vacant
  2. Harris Hardware, East Ferry Street - In Use
  3. St. Vincent's Female Orphan Asylum - Rehabilitated as the Health Science Charter School
  4. Vaux Barn, Best Street at Mills Street - Privately Owned, Vacant
  5. Lyth Cottage, Hamlin Park Local Historic District - Restoration in Progress
  6. Buffalo Central Terminal - Rehabilitation in Progress
  7. Fairfield Library, 1659 Amherst Street - Vacant, For Sale by the City of Buffalo
  8. St. Mary's on the Hill, Niagara Street at Vermont Street - Demolished
  9. Saint Adalbert Bascilia - Recently Closed by the Buffalo Diocese
A great discussion about revitalization strategies and collaborations takes place at Preservation-Ready Sites on Facebook, join them.

See you in March,
Painting for Preservation

Sunday, November 6, 2011


November 14, 2011 - 6:30 to 8:30pm
Statler City on Niagara Square
107 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY
Please use Franklin Street entrance

Come celebrate Painting for Preservation's first group exhibition with us! The exhibit is a result of Painting for Preservation's efforts during its inaugural year and an open call for work.

The show of over 100 pieces, features WNY artists working in urban spaces to document and imagine our historic places.

Our first opening was during the National Preservation Conference that was attended by a national crowd of over 2,500. We are now able and happy to invite Buffalo, artists and the public to the exhibit.

The event will be held in conjunction with Preservation Buffalo Niagara's annual membership meeting.

Your RSVP is appreciated. The Facebook event!Please e-mail info@paintingforpreservation.org for more information.

More information about PBN's annual meeting, that is also open to you:

6:30 PM Refreshments, ART + PRESERVATION, Explore the Statler

7:15-8:30 PM  
Annual Meeting  
Election of Trustees 
National Preservation Conference Retrospective
Remarks from Mark Croce, owner of Statler City

Friday, October 28, 2011

New Gallery in an Old Building

There's a new gallery in a historic building in the 500 Block Local Historic District:
Welcome to MAIN (ST)UDIOS, an artists’ community and gallery space in downtown Buffalo, located across from the Hyatt Hotel and steps from Fountain Plaza, Lafayette Square, the Theater District and several other galleries and cultural organizations. MAIN (ST)UDIOS will feature several open-style studio spaces with access to a 1000 sq foot community workspace and 2000 sq foot first floor gallery, with large storefront windows in a high traffic area. 

Building owner, Roger Trettel, Property Manager, Mark Schroeder and Gallery/Artists’ Manager, Erica Eichelkraut, collaborated to turn an empty building into this creative collective, furthering the rebirth of the 500 block of Main St.
 Congratulations to Erica of City Lights Studio and Marcus of 464 Gallery! This is the phyiscal illustration of ART+PRESERVATION, the name of Painting for Preservation's first exhibition on display until December 1, 2011 at the Statler Towers.

A community art piece that was created by Nomad Buffalo caught by eye - a whole (pieces of a whole) new perspective on the architecture of City Hall.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Preservationists Pack the Statler Towers

The masses of the National Preservation Conference checking out ART + PRESERVATION.

The City of Buffalo welcomed over 2400 attendees of the National Preservation Conference last week. After the Opening Plenary, everyone exhilarated by keynotes by Stephanie Meeks, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and James Howard Kunstler, author/activist, flooded the Statler Hotel on Niagara Square. Crews have been working hard to prepare the Statler for this event, and Painting for Preservation dressed up two temporary walls with the artwork of over 50 artists and 100 pieces.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Many Thanks

I can't thank this crew of people enough... Meagan Baco, Amanda Maciuba, Steve Siegel, Nancy Siegel, Dana Saylor, and Casey Milbrand.  They've been working hard at the Statler Towers all weekend for ART +PRESERVATION.  Here's some cool setting up photos...

Dana hanging Vaux Barn by Painting for Preservation darling Mickey Harmon (our graphic designer extraordinaire!)

Meg, Casey, Amanda, Sara (with Dana taking the photo and in the painting in the background!)

Casey and Meagan hanging a great abstract inspired by the industrial waterfront by Josh Nickerson

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Setting up for Statler Show

Sara hanging out with the art at the Statler.

The artists of Painting for Preservation and others who's work illustrates historic urban environments were invited to show their work in the Statler Towers during the National Preservation Conference. ART + PRESERVATION is Painting for Preservation's first exhibition and will feature over 50 artists of all media.

Reminder: Tomorrow, Sunday, October 16 is the final drop-off date! We will be set up nearer the Franklin Street entrance, but you can also use the Delaware Avenue entrance. Please bring your work between 9am and Noon.

A public opening is tentatively scheduled for the second week in November. For more information, email Sara M. Zak at P4Partist@gmail.com.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Update: Blacksmith Shop, site of our First Art-In

Originally published on Buffalo Rising, by wcperspective.

Judge to Blacksmith Shop Owner Carr: Fix or Go to Jail

Housing Court Judge Patrick Carney today told an attorney representing the owner of the blacksmith shop at 118 South Park Avenue that the building must be fixed in two weeks or the owner, Darryl Carr, will be jailed. Carr, who unsuccessfully tried to get the 19th-Century building demolished earlier this year, will now be hard-pressed to complete the necessary repairs on the property to bring the property up to code. An unhappy Judge Carney suggested to attorney James Milbrand that he have Carr "bring a toothbrush and some clean underwear" to the next scheduled court date in two weeks.

Carr had been ordered by the court to stabilize the building and correct code violations. Minor work has been done to the property in recent weeks including the boarding of several windows. It was not enough to please the court as adjacent property owners and City Inspector Michael Muscarella testified that conditions have only gotten worse. Many fear the building may not last the winter unless corrective actions are not taken either by Carr or by the City.

Among the violations at the property are additional open and broken windows, significantly degraded and missing brick causing water damage, a deteriorated roof, and a rat/rodent problem. Carr's other buildings along Illinois Street are also in disrepair including missing foundation stones, a partial collapse of one of the walls , damaged roofs, water damaged bricks and open/broken windows.

Carr, owner of Cobblestone Bar that is adjacent to the properties at South Park and Mississippi Street, is said to have reuse plans for the property. Most say his only goal is additional parking. At least two capable developers have tried to purchase and redevelop the buildings without success. The Buffalo Sabres organization is also said to have inquired about the availability of the building.

Read about the Painting for Preservation Art-In at the Black Smith Shop:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

"Building Stories" at Buffalo Architecture Foundation Kick-Off Event

The artwork of Meagan Baco and Steve Siegel, two committed Painting for Preservation participants, was on display at Buffalo Architecture Foundation's kick-off event, Fall for Architecture, held tonight at the Tri-Main Center. Packed with architects and friends, the bottom floor of the venue, displayed Building Stories: memories, retrospectives, photographs, and paintings focused on the importance of place. Also on display was Buffalo Through Their Eyes a collaborative project between Journey's End and CEPA Gallery, giving cameras to refugees to document their experience in Buffalo. All giving a fresh perspective.

Buffalo Architecture Event @ Tri-Main Center
From the Buffalo Architecture Foundation website:
Buffalo Architecture Foundation, Inc. (BAF) is a not-for-profit, public charity dedicated to inspiring the exploration and appreciation of architecture and how it shapes our lives.  BAF's mission is implemented through educational activities for school-aged children and public awareness events engaging citizens of all ages.

Established with the generous support of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Buffalo/Western New York Chapter, Buffalo Architecture Foundation is a not-for-profit, public charity committed to nurturing creative cooperation with the AIA and other regional cultural organizations to promote and celebrate architecture, design and construction.
You can submit your Building Story to Buffalo Architecture Foundation here!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Saint Adalbert Basilica Celebrates 125th Anniversary

What might be the last regular Sunday mass at Saint Adalbert Basilica was held on Sunday, September 18, 2011 at the 125-years-strong East Side parish. Over 350 attended the 125th Anniversary celebration held afterwards. A typical Sunday mass brings well-over 100 parishioners. With these numbers, many out-of-town supporters and a well-kept religious campus that also provides some rental income, the Catholic Diocese's order to close the church makes little sense.

The 125th Anniversary Mass. Photo by Broadway-Fillmore Alive.
Painting for Preservation at the 125th Celebration.
Steve Siegel, photographer, showing his work.
The artists of Painting for Preservation gathered at the Basilica in mid-September and were warmly welcomed by the many parishioners with live music, homemade baked goods and roast beef sandwiches. We had twenty artists, many newcomers, and were profiled in The Buffalo News in "Preserving memories of St. Adalbert's."

Michelle Schroeder, art teacher,at the Art-In.
Photo by Charles Lewis for The Buffalo News.
Leaders of Saint Adalbert Basilica parish have developed a strong and creative campaign to urge Bishop Kmiec to have a change of heart and allow the Church to remain as active as it already is. The parish regularly uses social media and has a young and active crowd; this is not a dead or dying church! We thank the parish for having us celebrate with them. Our being there only reinforced the parish's innovative commitment to their community.

With an abandoned church on what seems like every block, Painting for Preservation as artists and preservationists, fully support Saint Adalbert Basilica's cause. Having just hosted an Art-In at St. Mary's-on-the-Hill at Niagara and Vermont Streets, the ruins are an only too real a reminder how quickly a center of life in the community can fall literally fall apart.

Please show your support of the parish by writing to the Diocese in support of the church. Our letter to the Diocese of Buffalo in support of Saint Adalbert Basilica and, in general, a comment on the faiths abandonment of so many of its architecturally significant buildings:
September 14, 2011
Dear Bishop Kmiec,

I write on behalf of Painting for Preservation to express our collective support of maintaining weekly masses at Saint Adalbert Basilica as a measure of sustaining a vital parish community and caring for a historic and recognized landmark Basilica.

Painting for Preservation is an eclectic and inclusive group of artists that gathers at historic places to create artwork of all media with the building as the subject. Our goals include raising awareness of neglected historic places, supporting artists that are inspired by architecture and community, and starting a creative record of these places.

We had the opportunity to gather at Saint Adalbert’s to caringly illustrate the architecture of the Basilica. Over 200 people attended the Mass that morning and nearly 25 artists took to the lawn, sidewalk and streets in pure admiration of the Basilica’s iconic towers. The reception by the parish was extremely hospitable and representational of the spirit the parish regularly shares with its members and larger community.

Based on the Vatican’s decree for Saint Adalbert’s to remain open and our personal experiences of the vitality of the parish, we cannot in good conscience allow the Church to be closed without statement. Furthermore, closing vital and solvent parishes will not aid in the Diocese’s current fiscal crisis, nor should the historic buildings be abandoned.

Meagan Baco, Co-Organizer
Painting for Preservation
The Art-In at Saint Adalbert Basilica was the last gathering planned by Painting for Preservation for the 2011 painting season. Please email P4Partist@gmail.com or post on our Facebook to suggest sites for next year.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

God Speed, Saint Adalbert Basilica Parish!

Saint Adalbert Basilica by Steve Seigel
Painting for Preservation joined the nearly 200 parishioners of Saint Adalbert Basilica in joyfully protesting the Catholic Diocese's order to close the Basilica for regular Sunday masses. Standing their ground since 2007, Saint Adalbert's is slated to close next Sunday. The Art-In gathered over 20 artists to join the parish in celebrating the life and future of the church. With that many dedicated and innovative people participating in their community - it becomes clear that Saint Adalbert Basilica should not be closed. 

The 125th Anniversary Celebration of the Basilica will take place on Sunday, September 18, beginning with a Mass at 3:00pm.  A nod to the parish's history and vitality, the Mass will feature music of the Chopin Signing Society and a reception will follow at Millennium Hotel in Cheektowaga. Much of the artwork created at the Art-In will also be on display at the celebration. All are welcome at the Mass! 

The Buffalo News covered the Art-In with several pictures and an article by Sandra Tan, "Preserving memories of St. Adalbert."

Working with the members of the parish led to an exceptional Art-In with music, food and more conversation than usual. Thank you to all parishioners for their hospitality during the Art-In last Sunday. In particular, the enthusiasm and efforts of Lori DiNero and Charlie Penasack of Saint Adalbert Basilica, and also Todd Kniasuk of Music is Art and Christopher Bird of Broadway-Fillmore Alive.

Collaborating with the parish and drawing positive attention to iconic towers of St. Adalbert Basilica is representational of the goal of Painting for Preservation. We seek to increase attention, illustrate aesthetics, and start a creative record of historic places in all stages of neglect, danger and uncertainty. 

Join us all on Facebook: Broadway-Fillmore Alive, Music is Art , Painting for Preservation, Saint Adalbert Basilica

Amanda Maciuba and Sam Stone by Steve Seigel

Kelly Jakiel by Steve Seigel

The Dedicated Parishioners of St. Adalbert

Parishioners Working on the Community Art Piece
Michelle Schroeder and Family by Amanda Maciuba
Meagan Baco and Family by Amanda Maciuba

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Logo by Michael Harmon

Painting for Preservation (P4P) will host its first show during the National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference in Buffalo, New York in October.

Two-dimensional entries relating to the themes of historic preservation, architecture, urban aesthetics, community or personal history in Western New York. All styles and interpretations are welcome. Submit by email to P4Partist@gmail.com by September 27.

The Private Opening for the show will be during reception of the National Preservation Conference on Wednesday, October 19, 2011. A Public Opening will happen soon after. The show will be juried by an independent voice if the number and size of submissions requires. There is no fee to enter but a 40% donation of any sales will go to help the renovation of the Statler Towers, a 1920's grand hotel, and our host.

P4P is a group of eclectic and inclusive artists and preservationists that gather at historic places to make art on-site. We create positive awareness of distressed and under-utilized buildings; we create a record of current building conditions through the artist's point of view; we spark new and innovative preservation opportunities. We are inspired by our historic urban environment.

For more information, read the full Call for Work. Please contact Sara Zak at P4Partist@gmail.com or at 716-228-4853.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Painting for Preservation is hosting our first exhibition in October 2011.  In a nutshell, we will accept 1 -3 two-dimensional entries (depending on size) relating to the themes of historic preservation, architecture, and/or community in Western New York; all styles welcome. Submission is by e-mail at P4Partist@gmail.com, and is due by September 27, 2011.  There is no fee to enter, but a 40% donation of any sales will go to help the renovation of the Statler Towers in Buffalo, NY.  The opening for the exhibit will be during reception the National Preservation Conference on October, 19th.  A public opening is still to be determined.  Exhibit will be juried by an independent juror if the submissions out size the space.

Please see the detailed Calls for Work at the right hand side of the screen for detailed information and submission guidelines.  If you don't have the ability to send a digital submission, please call me at 716-228-4853.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Art-In to Support St. Adalbert Basilica's fight to Stay Open

Painting for Preservation's last Art-In at the ruins of St. Mary’s on the Hill is an only too real example of an abandoned neighborhood landmark left to rot. Vacancy and perceived uselessness is the greatest cause of deterioration at a historic building. Maintenance is deferred, moisture infiltrates, pipes burst, and slowly the inside and the outside of the building peel apart. The forced stifling of activity at Saint Adalbert’s Basilica by the Bishop of Buffalo Most Rev. Edward U. Kmiec may eventually lead the massive church to a similar end - but not with the consent of this very active East Side parish that has remained open four years longer than expected.

Art-In at St. Adalbert Basilica
212 Stanislaus Street, 14212
Sun., September 11, 9:30am - 1pm
All artists, community and parish members welcome
RSVP on Facebook
Saint Adalbert Basilica parish was founded in 1886 as the second Polish parish in the city of Buffalo. In 1890 to1891, Huber and Company designed and built the Romanesque church standing today. At the time it was built, it was the largest church in Western New York and remains one of the largest. The Basilica features a massive main altar of Italian marble with seven independently carved statues elevating a golden crown. Of curiosity, a likeness of the Black Madonna enshrined at one of the side altars had the distinction of appearing in the 1901 Pan American Exhibition. In 1907, Pope Pius X authenticated a document spiritually marrying St. Adalbert to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, a distinction allowing the East Side Basilica to perform higher rites and host the Pope, if ever called to do so.
ca. 1910

ca. 2011

The parishioners of St. Adalbert’s and their many out-of-town supports are determined to defer the closing of the Church, again and again, since 2007 when Bishop Kmiec called for merging Saint Adalbert Basilica with Saint John Kanty, closing St. Adalbert permanently. Unlike some church closures, St. Adalbert is financially stable and has an active parish. On a Sunday in July, I stopped by and found generations of families conversing over the pews, children playing in the stained glass rainbows and church leaders of determination and innovation.
Most recently, active parishioners launched their own “What Would Jesus Do?" Campaign meant to cause reflection and hopefully, a reprieve by Bishop Kmiec. The parishioner’s passion to keep their church open was recognized by the Vatican and the church is in possession of a letter stating that that Saint Adalbert Basilica must remain open as a place of worship accessible to the faithful. A holy declaration that the Bishop is denying. 

Offering both exterior and interior access for artists, a leader of the congregation describes the trinity of art, preservation and faith as such:
“Preservation is innate to the human spirit and artistic expression gives voice to that which is precious and fills our souls. The Art-In at Saint Adalbert Basilica is a way to express in artistic form the hopes and longings of a family, a parish, a community, that forever calls Saint Adalbert Basilica home.”
Painting for Preservation will set up on Sunday, September 11, 2011 at St. Adalbert Basilica at 212 Stanislaus Street beginning at 9:30am and disbanding around 1pm. Artists, photographers, community members, East Side advocates and parishioners are welcome to participate and observe. The art work created at this Art-In will be on display at the celebration of St. Adalbert’s 125th Anniversary on Sunday, September 18, 2011 at Millennium Banquet Hall in Cheektowaga. 

* Thank you to Charlie Penasak and Lori DiNero for their writing this post and their enthusiastic participation in Painting for Preservation.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Documenting the Demolition of St. Mary's on the Hill

In the face of continued demolition, Painting for Preservation gathered at St. Mary’s on the Hill at the corner of Niagara and Vermont Streets on Saturday, August 27 to capture the last of the ruins. Abandoned in 1994 and partially demolished by way of roof removal in 2009. The Church was certified as a City of Buffalo Local Landmark under the review by the Preservation Board in 2008. Necessary maintenance nor improvements were made and the building rapidly deteriorated, as one would expect a 100 year old roofless structure in Buffalo. Last Saturday, there remained the base of the bell tower, north and west walls of the sanctuary, stained glass windows, and interior columns. The adjoining guild house was severed just days before.

Donna Hall by Steve Siegel

Stan Jennings from the Armory Tower

Members of the Niagara Gateway Columbus Park Association came by St. Mary’s to talk about its history as preservation-ready site and its steady decline to ruins. These guys were on hand when the bell was removed from the tower in 2005. The Prospect Heights and Columbus Park neighborhoods have been on high-alert of preservation issues for over ten years because of the proposed Peace Bridge plaza expansion. The Peace Bridge Authority owns several adjoining lots and historic buildings on Busti Avenue, including the vacant ca. 1863 Col. Samuel H. Wilkinson house – another City of Buffalo Local Landmark.

Artists working at St. Mary's were Kyle Butler, Liz Czapski, Donna Hall, Amanda Maciuba, Steve Seigel, Sara M. Zak. Also, Meg Baco, Kelly Jakiel, Laura Jakiel, Stan Jennings, Anne McBride, Crystal Sanchez.

Collage and Painting by Crystal Sanchez

Sketch for Print Making by Amanda Macuiba

Photo by Anne McBride
“...the windows made an impression on me today more than anything. I felt the soul of the building looking out onto the world one last time... and in some way, still graceful and grateful to those who were there to capture that essence, knowing it would soon be gone forever...”

Only a week after the Art-In, the west wall of St. Mary's which was its primary facade and the remainder of the tower were demolished. Some of the guild hall still stands.

Painting for Preservation is an inclusive and eclectic group of artists, preservationists, photographers, bloggers and community leaders that gather at historic buildings to make art with the architecture as the subject. We do not paint the actual building. Our goal is to raise awareness of the historic buildings by gathering at them, support artists working in the urban environment, and create an artistic record of our collective history. This year, we have hosted nine Art-Ins throughout Buffalo and artist's work will be on display during the National Preservation Conference in October.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Gather at St. Mary's on the Hill this Saturday Morning

The scheduled Art-In at St. Mary's on the Hill is still happening this Saturday morning (9:30am-1pm) - and now - with greater conviction of the need to keep painting and preserving.

Demolition began Monday afternoon at St. Mary's on the Hill, as of Tuesday afternoon the south wall was leveled. Although many of us called it "ruins," we knew the structure's possibilities. An apartment scheme was laid out within the past couple of years and the creative/gardening community surely would have made something happen.

Please join Painting for Preservation to create art from another vantage point - that of the lost structure, of the absence.  There is also a structure next door, the old school, that is threatened.  Come out of the desire to make art or record history;  Come out of principle, protest, celebration and illustration of what was lost today and the system of City-aided demolition-by-neglect. Artists will be on-site and all community members are welcome to gather at this lost historic place.

For more information, email Sara and Meg at P4Partist@gmail.com.

* A sincere thank you to whomever taped the This Place Matters sign to the fence.

Monday, August 22, 2011

New Painting for Preservation Logo by Michael Harmon!!!

We are thrilled that Michael Harmon offered his creative talents to create a logo for Painting for Preservation! 

Ruins at St. Mary's on the Hill (Vermont and Niagara)

Participate in art and preservation in Buffalo. Please join Painting for Preservation for their eighth Art-In of artists, preservationists and community members making art on site at historic Places. The location is, sadly, what is left of St. Mary's on the Hill Church at the corner of Niagara and Vermont Streets in the Prospect Hill Neighborhood this Saturday, August 27 at 9:30am to 12:30pm. This certified-Local Landmark is now a ruins.

Photo by Becky Harbison

St. Mary's on the Hill Church is a ruins of a ca. 1897 Lutheran Church with a remaining entrance tower and arched masonry openings of red Medina sandstone. The deteriorated state of the building will make for unique art. St. Mary's Church congregation left the building in 1994 and it served as a antiques business for some time after that. The building has an out-of-town owner and there are no plans for its preservation, although it has been suggested that it be a sculpture garden -- something P4P would support whole-heartedly!

Painting for Preservation is an inclusive and eclectic group of artists, preservationists, photographers, bloggers and community leaders that gather at historic buildings to make art with the architecture as the subject. We do not paint the actual building. There have been seven previously hosted Art-Ins and our goal is to raise awareness of the historic buildings, support artists working in the urban environment, and create an artistic record of our collective history.

A regional list and discussion of Preservation-Ready Sites can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/preservationready/. Email Sara M. Zak or Meagan Baco at P4Partist@gmail.com for more information.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Painting for Preservation: Another Chapter for the Fairfield Library?

Artists at Fairfield Library; Photo by Stan Jennings
Gathered on the grassy corner lot of Amherst and Fairfield Streets, over 25 architects, artists, families and local residents, organized by Painting for Preservation, admired the proportion and classical detailing of the Fairfield Library through out the morning of Saturday, August 13. The ca. 1897 building was designed by William Sydney Wicks as a Unitarian Church in the Colonial Revival style. Wicks was the architectural partner of E.B. Green, who together designed 104 buildings in 36 years of partnership, as Green & Wicks.

The church building was occupied by a Lutheran congregation until it was purchased by the City in 1924 and operated as a library until 2005 when it was closed by the County. Having been vacant and neglected for nearly six-years the frame building is showing signs of increasing deterioration. The building, at a little over 6,000 square feet, represents a realistic rehabilitation project viable for the private or the public sector. The last appraisal of the property in 2007 set the price at $75,000 and though approached many time to sell, the Common Council has denied all transactions. No specific plans have been made public.

It is the goal of Painting for Preservation to bring creative attention to neglected historic places in the City of Buffalo. Both the act of gathering at the historic, and often, distressed location and in creating artwork with the building as the subject, stirs new innovative conversation about rehabilitation possibilities. Typical Art-Ins attract artists, architects/preservationists, photographs, resident and community activists; all are welcome to participate and observe. As a group, Painting for Preservation, has organized seven Art-Ins and will host a gallery show at the Statler Towers during the National Trust for Historic Preservation's National Preservation Conference in Buffalo in October.

Like many of the locations chosen by Painting for Preservation, these historic places have back stories and personal meaning to its organizers and participants. For all those involved at the Fairfield Library Art-In, the purpose was magnified by both the deterioration of the lovely historic building and the closure of the Library that was an anchor of community and culture for over 80 years.

In 1924, the former church was purchased by the City and became a branch of the Buffalo Public Library. Merging City and County resources, the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library (BECPL) system was incorporated in 1953 and from this point on-ward, the building asset of the Fairfield Library was owned by the City of Buffalo but all operations were managed by Erie County. The Fairfield Library remained a neighborhood branch with high circulation numbers until it was permanently closed in October of 2005 and since been vacant.

Not without cause, because of declining city population, the BEPCL commissioned Aaron Cohen and Associates Ltd. to complete The Library Service Strategic Plan, 1999-2003. The criteria for library-worth Cohen Study focused on size, parking and room-for-expansion, all characteristics not found in the urban, neighborhood branch libraries like North Park and Fairfield, putting them at a disadvantage to remain open. Finally, the report recommended closing both libraries and constructing a new North Buffalo Community Library. A similar tactic in other areas called for closing 20 additional branches through out the 52-library system.

Still in 2004, the American Library Association ranked the BECPL as the leader in number of library facilities per capita with one for every 18,000-or-so residents, providing nearly twice as much access than other library systems nationwide. This was reported in "A Plan for Moving On" developed by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.

When budget cuts in 2005 made the recommendations of the Cohen Study more feasible, the Fairfield Library was permanently closed in October of that year. As previously determined in their cooperative agreement, the physical building reverts to the City of Buffalo along with charges of its maintenance.

This hand-off from County to City is part of the problem. Buffalo has little budget to maintain the many City-owned properties, much less find suitable reuse strategies for them. So Fairfield Library no matter its historical or cultural significance became one of the over 7,000 vacant properties crumbling under City-ownership. Just recently, within the past month, was the Department of Real Estate given the budget to produce and hang For Sale signs on many of its properties.

A Buffalo Rising commenter, presumably from the neighborhood, mentioned that the City fails to maintain the lawn and residents often mow the lawn. The planters on the corner lot are tall with weeds and wildflowers. On a positive note, some artists chose to highlight the greenery.

Amanda Maciuba's Sketch
The Fairfield Library has been for sale by the City of Buffalo for several years with official RFPs for purchases distributed in 2007. An employee of the City of Buffalo Department of Real Estate stated that there has been interested ever since the building when on the market. Also of note, the property is listed on the City of Buffalo website with having Deed Restrictions but after additional research the Department found no restrictions. The listing has yet to be updated.

Residents, including Jeanine Baran of the Vernon Triangle Block Club, are hopeful for new stewardship,
“As a community, we are concerned about the building, and the first thing that came to my mind was maybe this [the Art-In] will attract some positive attention and a buyer.”
The last appraisal for the building that can be documented was $75,000 several years ago. Residents of the area have been hearing that a more recent appraisal valued the building at approximately $50,000. The process to purchase public building from the City of Buffalo requires Common Council approval based on the interested party’s vision for the property and their ability to finance it. No such buyer has been found.

Depending on the scope of work of Fairfield Library restoration, the cost can be roughly estimated in comparison with a budget prepared by Watts Engineering & Architecture, P.C. for work at the North Park Library at Delaware and Hertel Avenues in 2008. The report, available at the BECPL website, gives a probable cost at $696,700.

A popular target of finger-pointing for the Fairfield Library’s abandonment is mold and asbestos. Issues of mold and asbestos are common in all buildings not just historic buildings. The new $137M Federal Court House on Niagara Square has been on hold for months due to mold. Mold can be treated and asbestos can be contained, sealed and/or removed, and is commonly done skillfully during building rehabilitations.

There is tremendous neighborhood support for renewing the building’s place in the greater North Buffalo neighborhood. The Parkside Community Association has consistently strategized for the building’s preservation and reuse but has yet to get the right mix of funding and vision. Currently, the PCA has secured funding through the State’s Main Street Program for the mixed-use and commercial buildings along Main Street between Florence Street and Leroy Street; over $402,000 has been awarded. Perhaps with the momentum of a successful grant program and the leadership of Ben Johnson as Executive Director, there is still a place for community ownership at the Fairfield Library.

Other ideas for the property have included restoration as a private residence; most obviously a community center or community library; perhaps reuse by a small congregation.

Meagan Baco's Painting

The neighborhood has a strong cultural presence most notably Wright's Darwin D. Martin House in the National Register-listed Parkside East and Parkside West Historic Districts and with local businesses like Sweet_ness7, Fairy Cakes and Wil’s BBQ taking hold of Parkside Avenue across from the Buffalo Zoo, the location of the Fairfield Library is prime.

While the For Sale sign was a harsh reminder that this piece of Buffalo architectural history, public access to enlightenment and of many North Buffalonian’s family lore was abandoned - it can also be spun as an opportunity for new stewardship. The yellowed sign taped to the closed front doors of the Fairfield Library that though written in a positive tone, is much harder to read:

"After 80 years of service Fairfield Library is permanently closed. Thank you for your patronage and letting us be part of your lives and expanding your horizons."

The following photos by Steve Siegel:

Joan Shaw, NFPAP President

The Nowicki Family - Great to have a family participate and they were the youngest P4P participants yet.

Carol Siracuse's Beautiful Watercolor

Mickey Harmon and Dana Saylor

Friday, August 12, 2011

THIS PLACE MATTERS: Photo Submission for National Trust via Buffalo's Young Preservationists

Show BYP What Places Matter To You
Buffalo Rising
by Mike Puma
August 12, 2011

What place in Buffalo matters to you? Buffalo's Young Preservationists (BYP) wants you to show them. In conjunction with the "This Place Matters" campaign and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, BYP is looking for photo submissions of the places that matter to you.

The concept is simple, take pictures of yourself or your friends in front of the places that matter to you while also holding the "This Place Matters" sign. Participating is simple. Print a "This Place Matters" sign from the National Trust website, take your photos, and submit them directly to the BYP Facebook page or Flickr account.

Join the BYP at the Essex Street Pub (Rhode Island and Essex) on August 17th from 6-9 pm to see the photos submitted and discuss why these places matter to you. BYP members will be on hand to also discuss their participation in the upcoming National Trust Preservation Conference in October.

Buffalo's Young Preservationists is a group of concerned citizens whose goal is to raise awareness about the important role preservation plays in creating unique places that matter.

Painting for Preservation at Lyth Cottage (L to R): Sara M. Zak, Donna Hall, Meg Baco, Casey Milbrand [with sign], Amanda Maciuba, Dana Saylor. Photo by David Torke.