"He Saved the Terminal"

Russell Pawlak's wake was tonight in the Central Terminal's main concourse. Russ was an inspiration and an amazing influence. He understood the East Side's past, present and helped all of us understand the importance of preserving the Central Terminal.
When the City owned Wollenberg Grain Elevator was torched and demolished, I called Russ. He opened the terminal to the industrial remains of City's last wooden grain elevator for safe storage. When a photographer wanted access, he made sure the terminal's door was open. Lunch and dinner with Russ always included his take on the importance of certain gallery openings in NYC or a lecture or show he'd attended here or somewhere in Europe - all woven into a story about the importance and role of art, aesthetics, history and philosophy in our lives.
Mark Sommer wrote Russ's obituary for the Buffalo News, here and a few more pics from tonight. Russ will be missed. His legacy remains - Buffalo's best loved building.
ArtspaceBAVPAWoodlawn Row HousesfixBuffalo flickr
Creative ClassShrinking CitiesSaturdays in the Neighborhood


Library Diva said...

I am shocked and saddened to hear of Mr. Pawlack's death. I had the privilege of being on a tour of the Terminal that he conducted several years ago. That year, I had given my father the schedule of the preservation tours for his birthday, prices carefully blotted out, and told him to pick one for us to do together.

It was just before I began grad school in museum studies, and I was so impressed with Pawlack's passion and vision that I volunteered to help him over that winter break. We spent a very pleasant and inspiring two hours talking about the city, the Terminal, history and his projects in Spot Coffee on Delaware and Chippewa.

Unfortunately, it being the busiest time of year, we were never able to realize the plans we'd made to work together. It will always be a regret of mine. But Central Terminal will stand as a memorial to Russ, hopefully for a very long time, to be enjoyed by the full spectrum of people in Buffalo. I know that my father and I will never forget the tour he gave us.

olcott_beach said...

How sad that Russ Pawlak has passed-on as such an individual whose passion for the Central Terminal is not a commonly shared trait.

Unfortunately, I never met Russ but did volunteer several times in the annual terminal clean-up and corresponding with him via email at one point in time.

His wake in the central terminal was a fitting location.

Betty Barcode said...

I remember how proud Russ was about getting the onerous back taxes forgiven by the City. Their snowplow drivers dumped snow on the grounds of the Terminal without permission, causing damage to newly landscaped lawns. Russ raised hell about it in Masiello's office and got the back taxes forgiven as compensation.

Not to steal all the props due to Russ, who I adored, but the Preservation Coalition saved the Terminal by wresting it from the City and forming the Central Terminal Restoration Corp. Russ stepped into that framework and did excellent and marvelous things.

He is gone from us too soon.