Monday, October 06, 2008

Foundry Pattern Exhibition Closing Oct 16

The foundry pattern show which was hung for the building preview during TypeCon this past July will be coming down to get ready for the next phase of Gallery remodeling and our eventual grand opening, so we are having a closing reception on Thursday Oct 16 6-9pm. The handmade wooden foundry patterns from one of Buffalos defunct iron foundries that are on display will be for sale with all proceeds to benefit WNYBAC.

Foundry Patterns on Display at WNYBAC

Buffalo was a steel town. This is an undeniable legacy that helped build the city in the early 20th Century and unfortunately led to its decline towards the end of the century. As the steel industry declined, Buffalo also served as an incubator for an entire new generation of artists and a new “creative class”. The University at Buffalo in the late 1960s was a haven for the avant garde. The low cost of living and diverse population has made Buffalo an attractive place for artists to cultivate their work since.

The process of casting objects in metal requires a pattern or replica of the object to be cast to form a cavity into material such as sand. Molten material will then be poured during the casting process. Patterns used in sand casting are made to exacting standards of construction so that they can last for a reasonable length of time and stand up to repeated casting. Patternmaking is a skilled trade that is related to the trades of tool and die making and moldmaking. It may also incorporate elements of fine woodworking. Patternmakers learn their skills through apprenticeships and trade schools over many years of experience. Although an engineer may help to design the pattern, it is usually a patternmaker who executes the design.

The patterns in the exhibit were rescued from the Atlas foundry on Elmwood Avenue near Kenmore (current site of the Regal Cinema). The anonymous craftsmen who produced these utilitarian objects may never have imagined an art exhibit showing this work. The choice of colors was not an aesthetic choice, but rather designation as part of the pattern. Looked at as found objects, individually or as a collective body of work, there is undeniable artistry, craftsmanship and an industrial beauty in these pieces. Primary colors over carefully shaped hardwoods such as mahogany evoke a clear, but unknown, intention to these mysterious objects. As the inaugural exhibit for the WNY Book Arts Center, the two-part patterns can be seen as covers for conceptual sculptural books. They can also be seen with fresh eyes as historic relics reminding us of Buffalo’s past with a view towards Buffalo’s future. The concept of what a book is and what art is will be explored and challenged with the WYNYBAC. Our future collaborations with existing cultural organizations will build upon an already dynamic landscape of what makes Buffalo’s quality of life unique and worth enhancing.

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