April 11th, 2014

New Art Gallery opens in the Belesario

Via Buffalo Rising

You might recall that I posted a fun and different type of article that followed the story of The Swan and The Horse, two artists who have exhibited internationally and have come together in Buffalo to produce a series of works to be shown this evening at a new gallery in Downtown Buffalo (see back story). Today I would like to dig a bit deeper into the real world personas of artists Eric Magnuson (The Horse) and Lisa Z. Morgan (The Swan) – lovers, cohorts and artists in crime. As I type this, Lisa is on her way to Buffalo to join forces with Eric at The Lavender Hinge Showroom, which happens to be both a real gallery and a representation of a gallery (imagine a bonsai tree that is able to exist as a sign and a representation of nature, and is also in reality a living tree).

In 2010 Lisa was commissioned to author and curate Design Behind Desire, a book that cemented her career as a writer, artist and forecaster of style over and beyond being a designer for which she became known through the works of Strumpet & Pink. Lisa has managed to maneuver between the ranks of co-founder and creative director of Strumpet & Pink to working with an elite group of artisans on works/disciplines that range from the worlds of fetish, fashion to chocolatiers, perfumiers and high art.

The–Lavender-Hinge-(Rolling-Stone)Lisa and Eric met in the early 90s in LA when Lisa, who was then a young aspiring artist, came to LA from the UK on a pilgrimage of sorts to learn about the art scene. According to Lisa, “Eric was accomplished, confident, talented and walked with a very particular swagger.” The initial meeting was brief but potent and after a defining and whirlwind affair, Lisa returned to the UK. The two wrote romance to each other for over a year and then Lisa went to live in Copenhagen, Denmark. Eventually they drifted apart as the immediacy of the Internet and e-mailing was not a viable means to communicate at that time. Lisa then returned to the UK to attend the Royal College of Art – London. “I never stopped thinking about her though,” Eric told me. And it was 20 years later that they reconnected (thanks to Lisa’s enchanted curiosity and the advance of the internet) in 2010.

In 20 years time, The Swan had evolved into a fully mature, intellectual and learned woman, very accomplished by making her mark upon the world (see her bio). “It was then when she moved to the US that we began to collaborate. Lisa had been designing knickers (lingerie), which were essentially wearable works of art that could also be hung on the wall. Years earlier I had been experimenting with clothing as sculpture, so we were both on similar art-meets-clothing design paths.”

Eric-Magnuson-Buffalo-NY-1As for The Horse, his arrival into the world of art began early on. He had a special connection to his art teachers, and was encouraged to pursue an artistic approach to life. Prior to his immersion into the world of art, Eric had been pursuing a life of drugs, sex and rock ‘n roll. The discovery of his passion for art made his parents relieved and supportive considering his other interests. Eric went on to graduate from Eastern Michigan University, before earning his masters at the California Institute of the Arts.

Eventually Eric moved to LA where he began to concentrate on cross-disciplinary works – clothing as sculpture (see article in Huffington Post). That was when he first met Lisa, never realizing that the two would drift apart only to reconnect two decades later. “It turned out that we were soul mates,” Eric shared with me. “It pained me to think that I had let the person that I would end up being in love with out of my life. We went our separate ways and followed different roads that eventually led us back to each other, never skipping a beat. When we reconnected we found that we were able to work together on a completely different level – a oneness.”

The-Lavender-Hinge-(Grand-Opening2)The inaugural exhibition at The Lavender Hinge Showroom, their new gallery space located in The Belesario in Downtown Buffalo (the former LL Berger building) will display the works that they have collaborated on since they ‘officially’ began to work together in 2011 under the banner of The Lavender Hinge.

In the end, it took Buffalo to allow Eric and Lisa to realize another one of their dreams, which was to open up their own space. In NYC this was something of a pipe dream but with Eric’s arrival in Buffalo they realized that it was indeed possible. The gallery is located on an up and coming block of Main Street and what excites Eric and Lisa is that they have the opportunity to experiment in a city that truly appreciates ‘experimentation’. The stage may be a bit smaller than say NYC, LA or London, but it is equally as sturdy. “The art scene is quite impressive for a city of this size, and appears to be growing. This is the perfect time for us to join the fray.”

“The Lavender Hinge will showcase works, which focus on the ubiquitous and everyday buttonhole. As a subject this captivates The Hinge and through the exploration and scaling up of the ‘hole’ it swiftly develops into a cipher with an expanding vocabulary with each fabric employed creating a fresh interpretation. Be it an artist’s linen or a fine gentleman’s suiting fabric made out of cashmere, wool, mohair or silk, every fabric speaks a different woven story and articulates a particular quality. The ‘hole’ becomes infused with a distinct and sensuous personality and ultimately becomes an ancillary sign or device for storytelling.” – The Lavender Hinge

The Lavender Hinge Showroom @ The Belesario (see Facebook) 
Friday April 11, 2014 | 6:00pm – 9:00pm (see Facebook event) 
520 Main Street, Buffalo, New York 14202

Exhibition Runs: April 11 to July 11, 2014

Showroom Hours: Open Saturday 11am to 5pm and by appointment

March 27th, 2014

ECIDA OKs two apartment projects worth $14M

Via Buffalo Business First
By Jim Fink

A pair of Buffalo projects, each anchored by a residential component, received tax breaks to advance from the planning stage to construction.

The Erie County Industrial Development Agency directors, Wednesday morning, approved the incentive packages — one for the conversion of the late 1800s-era, former Jansen Brother Harness Shop location on Elm Street and the other, a century-old one-time headquarters for American Radiator Co. on Elmwood Avenue, just north of the SUNY Buffalo State campus.

Together, the projects represent a private sector-led investment that tops $14 million and brings a pair of buildings back to life.

The Jansen Brothers building, located at 173 Elm St., is being renovated by 9187 Group LLC, an Ellicott Development Co. affiliate.

Tom Fox, an Ellicott Development executive, said his company wants to take the long-vacant, 13,200-square-foot, four-story building and renovate it with a mix of office space and apartments. Ellicott Development will be investing at least $1.4 million on the project.

Service Collaborative of WNY Inc., a not-for-profit agency that represents WNY AmeriCorps and West Seneca Youth Bureau, has agreed to lease 3,500-square-feet on its first two floors for office and training space. The collaborative is relocating from Seneca Street.

Fox said the upper two floors will be renovated into five apartments.

“We view it as in-fill development for an under-utilized corner,” Fox said.

Karen Fiala, ECIDA assistant treasurer, said the project works well with other nearby developments in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus as well as along Elm Street.

“It fits in nicely,” Fiala said.

The ECIDA directors were equally receptive of plans by developer Rocco Termini to transform the circa 1903 era, onetime American Radiator Co. headquarters at 1807 Elmwood Avenue into the Arco Lofts.

Termini wants to use the bulk of the 47,600-square-foot building as the base for 38 market rate apartments while allocating 2,000-square-feet for commercial office space.

The Arco Lofts would serve as an economic development companion to the Distillery Lofts and Houk Lofts projects that Termini has developed in the same neighborhood.

“It’s about building critical mass,” he said.

Termini noted that 30 of the 46 apartments in the Distillery Lofts, located almost across Elmwood Avenue from the Arco Lofts, have been leased and the building doesn’t officially open until next month.

“We feel there is a real demand for apartments in that area,” Termini said.

Termini will be investing $12.4 million on the Arco Lofts project. The ECIDA incentives were critical to moving the project forward.

“If it wasn’t for the IDA, it appears this would be another empty building in Buffalo,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

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