Lots of late nite chats recently with Lisa Schamess - editor, writer, teacher - living in Washington, DC. Lisa's blog spans the cultural landscape and is richly linked. Her website does, too. Observer and poet of things urban, Lisa found my little neighborhood blog earlier this year and is using some of my material for a major policy paper by a national organization that focuses on Buffalo, NY. Due out in a few weeks. She keyed into something I'd written at what I consider - perhaps future observers of things Buffalo, will too - to be Buffalo's turning point, those very dark times back in early 2005 when Artspace and Performing Arts could have gone south, and didn't. Very, very intelligent decisions. Lisa quotes from a February 11, 2005 post.
Citizen blogger David Torke recently commented on the $28 million construction of the new public high school in the Masten neighborhood, the Buffalo Academy of the Visual and Performing Arts, noting, "The transformative quality of the decision to locate BAVPA here in this little corner of Masten should not be underestimated. It is the long awaited bridge between the two Buffalos…. the connection between Buffalo's East side and the already well developed arts, educational and retail neighborhoods of the West side."
Long intro, yet the reason for this post - while chatting about Vergara's work recently, Lisa mentioned the work of photgrapher William Christenberry. Here's a piece from NPR, August 3, 2006. Make sure to listen to the 8 minute interview.
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The connection back to the work of Camilo José Vergara is Christenberry's sense of timing and place. He returns annually to the same spot adding a deeper sense of meaning as the landscape is transformed. Stuff we may sense and don't see yet it resonates with me as I observe the rapidly changing "hollowing out" and shifting street scapes in my neighborhood and other parts of Buffalo's East side. While most of his work is focused on southern heritage issues and Hale County, Alabama in particular, the deeper connection to Vergara is through Christenberry's collaboration with FSA photographer Walker Evans in Of Time and Place. Stir James Agee, one of my favorite American writers, into this mix. Really, very good.
Make sure to check out Borrowed Light [amazon reviews], Lisa's first novel. I'll be making the full report Lisa is working on available here, towards the middle of the month.
Artspace ArchiveAnnals of NeglectBAVPAWhere is Perrysburg?Broken Promises...
Writing the CityWoodlawn Row HousesTour dé Neglect - 2006faqmy flickr
buffalo olmsted parks conservancy


lisa schamess said...

lovely props, David. the feeling is mutual.

while we are on the subject, does anyone remember the film Smoke, by Paul Auster and Wayne Chang? Harvey Keitel owns a tobacco shop? William Hurt is the down-in-the-mouth writer? And this exchange between them, which sort of also reminds me of Yiddish stories about the righteous who quietly protect the earth:

I didn't know you took pictures.

I guess you could call it a hobby. It doesn't take me more than about five minutes a day to do it, but I do it every day. Rain or shine, sleet or snow. Sort of like the postman.

So you're not just some guy who
pushes coins across a counter.

That's what people see, but that ain't necessarily what I am. [shows the pictures]

They're all the same.

That's right. More than four thousand pictures of the same place. The corner of ?rd Street and Seventh Avenue at eight o'clock in the morning.

Four thousand straight days in all kinds of weather.

That's why I can never take a vacation. I've got to be in my spot every morning.(pause) Every morning in the same spot at the same time.

I've never seen anything like this.

It's my project. What you'd call my life's work.

[adapted from the pirate transcript at drew's script-o-rama, one of my favorite hangouts on the internet.

lisa schamess said...

oops. Wayne Wang. My bad.

fix buffalo said...


introduced to PA a few years back. thanks for the reminder...

and the recent detective work!