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After the storm…

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Like much of the northeast, Buffalo got pummeled with snow last night. Thick, heavy snow. Though it is late in the season it still looked beautiful to me (maybe it’s because I had a snow day off of work). Anyhow, I walked to a coffee shop this morning and brought my camera. Here’s a few things I saw. Click any for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

A Week Without Color…

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I think it’s because it was an emotional story, and emotions come through much stronger in black and white. Color is distracting in a way, it pleases the eye but it doesn’t necessarily reach the heart.”

~Kim Hunter


Last week I was invited to take part in black-and-white photo “challenge” on Facebook. The rules were simple…a black-and-white photo every day with no people in them. I usually carry a camera with me so this was not much of a challenge for me. Some of these photos were shot either to or from my way to work, others while I was on my bike on a day off. It’s interesting, I think, in that last week was not a great week for me. Nothing major, just one of those weeks where I was feeling down. In a sense I was seeing life through a colorless lens, so I really think it came through in these photos. In some ways, I believe, photography–like any art form–can me a type of therapy, I know it is for me. Anyhow, the photos are not in a chronological order, they are arranged simply the way the computer uploaded them. Click any for a larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

The Freedom Wall….is one of inspiration

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On my way home from work this afternoon I took the long way home to ride past this free-art project and see the progress. It is titled the Freedom Wall and is sponsored by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. This, to me, in these uncertain times and with all the “wall building talk,” it is so inspiring to see a wall such as this with a positive purpose. Here:s an excerpt from their website:

“This space provides the ideal surface for a mural that will respond to the significance of the location as the entrance into the Historic Corridor and that celebrates our nation’s civil rights legacy. The Freedom Wall project (working title) will utilize the design of the wall, divided into sections, to depict portraits of 28 notable civil rights leaders in American history, past and present. The scale of the wall creates a unique opportunity to present a historical narrative that recognizes well-known national activists alongside equally important but less-widely-known local leaders.”

I was glad to see there were a few people working on the wall when I rode up to it, and they were all too eager to talk to me about it and tell me about some of what was going on. Directly below is one of the artists, Edreys Wajed, he’s working on a portrait of William Wells Brown who spent some time in Buffalo at one point. The photo below is a nice young women who is not one of the artists but described herself as a helper, she helps the artists fill things in, she told me. She also gave me a great deal of information about the project. And in the photo directly below that is a rap artist who was being filmed performing in front of Dr. King. In all, there are 28 portraits being painted by four artists and the wall stretches around the corner for two city blocks.

The project is slated to be completed in the next couple weeks and there will be an opening with a street party. This, to me, is really inspiring and worth pedaling a few blocks out of my way to pass it on my way to work.

To learn more about the project, the artists, and the list of people being portrayed, visit their web site here. For directions to the Freedom Wall, click here.

Urban Simplicity.

 

A walk in my neighborhood…

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All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Yesterday evening was so nice, and I was feeling somewhat stunned from some meds I was on but still needed to get out of the house, so I went for a walk. I have always loved to walk in cities. I may walk a bit slower than I once did, and it may take me longer to get to a destination, but still I love to walk. Walking in cities is always inspiring to me, and I am lucky enough to live in a historic neighborhood where the architecture itself is inspiring. Anyhow, I simply meandered the streets like a tourist in my own town and snapped a few photos. Here’s a few of the things I saw. Click any for a slightly larger image.

Seven Photos of One Building, and a Few Words.

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Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.

~Oscar Wilde

A couple things. One is that the event two nights ago was incredible. If you are reading this from somewhere other than Western NY the event I speak of is the illumination of the former Richardson Complex, now known as Hotel Henry. I have posted about these structures before but not in a while. The hotel and the original complex take their names from the architect, HH Richardson. Constructed in the 1800s, for many years it was part of the Buffalo Psychiatric center, which still resides next door. Then it sat vacant and crumbling for many years, decades. It was close to demolition at one point. But as you can see it has been resurrected and in a glorious way. Thus, as a grand opening of sorts, two nights ago the buildings were illuminated and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra played. The light-show was choreographed with the music. As stunning as these photos are they do not do it justice to actually being there..at points the buildings looked to be throbbing and even melting. Incredible. On a slightly different, but at the same time similar note, if you’d like to see images of our grain elevators illuminated, which are now a permanent nightly display, click here. The City of Light.

The Greenhouse at MLK Park.

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It is one great purpose of the Park to supply to the hundreds of thousands of tired workers, who have no opportunity to spend their summers in the country, a specimen of God’s handiwork that shall be to them, inexpensively, what a month of two in the White Mountains or the Adirondacks is, at great cost, to those in easier circumstances.

~Frederick Law Olmsted

I’ve seen this greenhouse before but have never been to it. And I am jumping ahead as I often do. Let me begin again. The park in which this greenhouse resides is Martin Luther King, jr. Park on Buffalo’s East Side. It is part of Buffalo’s incredible park system which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed Central Park in NYC and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, among others.

I’m not sure if I mentioned previously, but I’ve started a new job which is much farther than previous jobs. It’s on the east side and a little more than five miles from my house. I don’t bike every day, it depends on the weather. If it is raining, for example, I take the subway and bus as I don’t want to arrive at work soaking wet. But when I do ride, as I did today, this park is about my half-way point.

To put it not-so-mildly, I have fallen in love with this park. There is so much there in such a small parcel of land. One of my favorites is to stop in the cottage park, which was originally called the rose garden, which is a walled-in micro-park within the park. At 6:20am it is a beautiful place to stop and finish my coffee or to meditate or contemplate the day ahead.

Anyhow, as I was riding home today I stopped to take the above photo and saw a guy busy at work. He stepped outside for a minute and I asked if I could come in to take some photos. I also asked if the greenhouse was open to the public. It’s not open to the public, he told me, but you can come in and take a few photos if you want. He even suggested I bring my bike inside, which can be seen in the second to last photo. I told him I’d be quick as I could see he was closing up shop for the day.

The worker’s name is Jeff, he has worked there since the 1980’s, and told me a bit about the place and showed me an old photo. It was originally open to the public but it isn’t any longer, he told me. No it is used for production. Basically anything that is grown or planted in any of Buffalo’s parks begins here. Thus said, I walked around and snapped a few photos. Jeff, if you are reading this, Thank you again for letting me into your work space. I will definitely be posting more photos and info about this incredibly beautiful park. Click any photo for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

A Walk in the Woods (without leaving the city)

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One of the things that is unique about living in Buffalo, NY is while it is a medium sized city it is also a small town, and with that one doesn’t have to go far in order to encounter wilderness. In fat, one doesn’t have to even leave the city limits. I’m referring to two nature preserves that are along our shoreline and are just outside of downtown. Both of these preserves, Tifft Nature Preserve and Times Beach Nature Preserve, are less than a 5 mile bike ride from my front door. Indeed, in the summer months the trip is much shorter with the aid of Buffalo Bike Ferry. Anyhow, thus said, a couple days ago I had the day off and the morning free and felt like I needed a bit of recharge so I rode over to Tifft Nature Preserve and went for a walk. It truly is what I needed. Here’s a few things I saw. To see previously posted pictures from Tifft, click here, and from Times Beach, click here.

The View from the Top…

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This is a series of photos I shot last week from the observation deck of Buffalo’s incredibly beautiful City Hall. The observation deck is visible in the above photo as the strip of glass that surrounds the very top of the building. The first photo below was taken from the steps, looking up. This, in my humble opinion, is one of the most underused and free attractions to our city. To see photos of the interior of the building, here’s a series I shot last year, and if you’d like to see a couple photos of the building at a distance and lit up at night, click here.

Anyhow, the photos are as follows…the second photo below is looking east over the city just as you walk out onto the observation deck, when you are up there it is easy to see how the street patterns were laid out in a sort of wheel pattern in the same way as Paris. Walking around the side of the deck and looking northwest one can view Niagara Falls 20 miles away, that’s the next photo (if you look close you can see the mist from the actual falls). The photo below is a zoomed in photo of the tightly packed West Side, my neighborhood. The last photo is a zoomed in photo of the top of the Liberty Building, which is also visible (in the distance) in the photo looking out over the city. What I find interesting about this zoomed in photo is that if you look past the city you can see dozens of windmills in the distance, those I believe are the windmills off to the east of Buffalo in Cattaraugus and Wyoming counties. Anyhow, whether a local or visitor to the City of Good Neighbors, the observation deck as an excellent and interesting way to spend a (free) half hour or so.

Urban Simplicity.

After the Parade, and a Few Other Things I’ve Seen Recently While Walking or Riding a Bike…

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So a couple things. One is that I’ve begun carrying my camera with me again on a regular basis, hence the photos. It’s therapy for me (seriously). The first three photos (the one above and two below) were shot today just after the St. Patrick’s Day Parade (Buffalo recently ranked the #1 city for this event). I didn’t see the parade but as I live very close to where it happens I snapped a few photos afterwards. While the above shot–which is one of my favorites–may seem a bit snarky I don’t mean it to be. It’s three drunk people stumbling along and holding one another up (if you saw them in person they sort of swayed in a synchronized motion as they walked). Anyhow, I thought it was nice how they all held one another up. Years ago (many years ago) that may have been me. This rest of the photos are in no particular order. They were shot over the past week or so, where we basically experienced every season (except truly hot summer) within the course of the week. Click any photo for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Thin Ice, Blood Church, and a few other things I saw while riding my bike yesterday…

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Life is one long decay, no? There’s a lot of beauty in it.”

~ Urs Fischer

So I had yesterday off of work and had an appointment on Buffalo’s East Side. I love riding my bike through the neighborhoods for a couple reasons. One is that my heritage is there. I was born on the East side, and generations before me lived there. But also the neighborhoods. While the East Side is home to some of the most impoverished neighborhoods in our city, I find it oddly peaceful to pedal and coast my way through the streets with often dilapidated buildings and urban prairies. I feel the presence of souls past as I coast through the quiet streets.

It was cold out (I was glad it actually felt like winter) and I was pedaling into a strong headwind, so for a bit of reprieve I stopped for breakfast at Mattie’s Restaurant on Fillmore and was served by Miss Mattie herself. And with a full belly and warm coffee I pedaled the rest of the way home and felt grateful to be on a bike, to be able to experience my short 10 mile round trip with all my senses.

Urban Simplicity.

 

The views from my handlebars on a late winter’s eve

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So I had the day off today and was out running errands on the bike bike (surprise, right?). Normally by this time of the year I am so tired of the snow that I can’t wait for it to end, but it has been such a mild and mediocre winter that mostly what I am waiting for is the gray and wet to end. Anyhow, it started to snow and I had my camera with me so I took a few photos, and here they are. Click any for a larger view.

Three Photos of Three Buildings…a few things I saw while walking today.

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Firstly, I would like to say that these are all iPhone shots, with of course some post upload editing. Anyhow, that out of the way, I was downtown this morning and am still so much in awe by the architecture of Buffalo. I never tire of it. These are just three examples as they were buildings I happened to be in this morning. The first (above) is the current home of Erie Community College City Campus. This incredibly beautiful building was originally the Buffalo Post Office. I had a meeting there and when it was done it was lunchtime, so I thought I’d head to my favorite downtown Greek diner, and on the way I took a shortcut through the Ellicott Square Building (first photo below). I climbed one of the staircases to snap the photo and just stood and admired the building for a moment. And lastly, as I headed to the diner I also passed one of my favorite downtown churches, St. Paul’s Cathedral (bottom photo). Knowing that the doors are always open during business hours (which is sadly a rarity for a church these days), I stopped in for a brief 10-minute respite. I was the only one in the grand sanctuary and I just sat and listened to the old building creek and groan in the wind. It was beautiful. Then, after having my spirit filled with all this beautiful and inspiring architecture (and all within a 5-minute walk from one another), I carried on and went and had my stomach filled. And these are just a few of the things I saw this morning as I walked home through the City by the Lake.

Urban Simplicity

And then I stumbled upon a protest…

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So I had the day off today and was on my way to a coffee shop this morning when I came upon this protest. I wasn’t sure what it was at first so I stopped to read some of the signs. Then I hear someone yell, “hey Joe,” from across the street. Of course I’d know people at this or any protest, right?  Anyhow, this protest was in response the the arrival of Kellyann Conway and her $5000-a-plate luncheon/fundraiser for Trump. And in many regards this is also, by extension, a continuation of on-going protests regarding our own local racist, Carl Paladino because of his recent remarks that made news around the globe. I suppose the highlight of the protest was when the above banner was unveiled off the roof of the coffee shop directly across the street from the hotel where the fundraiser was being held (it’s also directly under a billboard for the said hotel; see below). My only hope is that the luncheon took place in the windowed atrium so all attending would see not only the protest below but also the banner directly opposite them. I have to add that these were some mighty hearty protesters. After I snapped some photos I went and joined them but I was only out there a fraction of the time as most of them…the high today is 20f/-7c. Anyhow, it really is awesome to come across something like this while riding my bike on a really cold day to a coffee shop. And lastly, there’s that guy in the coffee shop window (bottom photo).

Urban Simplicity.

I went for a bike ride on New Years Day and here are a few things I saw…

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Yesterday morning, being New Years Day, I woke feeling somewhat introspective as I’m apt to do. So I went for a bike ride and brought my camera. The streets were dead quiet. I rode to Buffalo’s East Side which is an area of the city that has not seen any of our area’s resurgence. If you have any ancestral lineage in Buffalo, chances are you have ties to the East Side. Both sides of my family, in years gone by, have lived on the East Side. Pedaling and coasting through these deserted streets on New Years day was really meditative in a way; I felt as if I were in some sort of post apocalyptic movie scene, but I wasn’t. Many people still live here. The images of the bombed out looking building below are of the old Buffalo Central Terminal train station. My dad, along with countless other young men, departed from this station on their way to WWII. It’s said that the train station is haunted, and on this day I could feel their presence. The photos are in no particular order. Click any for a slightly larger view. To see photos from previous bike rides through these neighborhoods, click here, here, here, or here.

Urban Simplicity

Manipulating Light…9 Photos of Fireworks

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So last night at about 20 minutes to midnight, after a couple glasses of red wine, I rode my bike downtown. Then I set my camera on a tripod in the midst of thousands of New Years Eve revelers and focused my camera. I had to grip the camera and tripod pretty tightly as it kept getting smashed into and tripped over. When the fireworks went off I snapped a bunch of photos and hoped for the best. These are a few of them.

Urban Simplicity.

Buildings and a couple other things…

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I had the day off today and was out on my bike (surprise, right?). It was such a beautiful day, almost spring-like (55F). And after stopping for coffee I meandered around downtown and then stopped to take a photo of the interior of the Ellicott Square Building (pictured above). It was lunch time; the 30″ Christmas tree was lit and there was a high school choir singing Christmas Carols…really nice. And as I stood there listening to the sweet sound of song I marveled at the building. Really incredible. We (the city of Buffalo) have such a rich architectural history, and I never grow tired of the free structural art–the free gift–that is available in our old city; the gift of beautiful architecture. As I have often taken photos of some of our local landmarks, I felt moved to choose a few (I have hundreds) and post them in one place. Some of these you may have seen before; others have not been posted previously. Some were taken today or within the last couple days; others were taken over the last couple years. Anyhow, if you’d like to learn a bit about some of the buildings and the people who designed them, follow this link.


Urban Simplicity

Illuminated!

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So I went to Canalside tonight to see the grain elevator illuminated and it did not disappoint. It was designed by Ambiances Design and will be lit 365 evenings a year starting tonight. The scenes on the elevator changed, representing the seasons of Western New York, and I have to say it was pretty spectacular. I also have to add how blown away I was by the sheer volume of people on the waterfront on this unseasonably warm November evening. The work and progress that has been done and continues to be done there is truly impressive. I’ve ridden my bike in that area for many years, and for many years it was a desolate industrial wasteland (I would be nervous being by myself even in the day time), but now it has been transformed into an all ages family-friendly waterfront. And this is just another example. Anyhow, click any photo for a slightly larger view.


Urban Simplicity.

Two photos; two evenings

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I suppose this post could easily be filed under “shameless self-promotion,” but hey, someone has do do it. Anyhow, if you happen to be in the Western New York area there are two events this week where my photos will serve as the backdrop.

The first is this Thursday (11/5) at Burchfield Penny Arts Center. There is a performance hosted by Haiku for Buffalo and the Buffalo Architecture Foundation. It’s a free event and open to all. The above photo (of Kleinhans Music Hall) will serve as a backdrop for at last part of the show. Here is a link with information about the performance(s).

The next night, Friday (11/6) there will be a book opening at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center. My photo of one of my favorite watering holes is featured as the book cover (pictured below). The editors and some of the writers will be present. Here is a link with additional information about the book and the event. Hope to see you there…

Urban Simplicity.

The view from my handlebars…

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Some years ago I worked with a waiter who was from France, and he told me one of the things he noticed straight away about Buffalo was its trees…how even some of our busier streets have such beautiful and grand trees. The weather has been so incredibly idyllic and autumnal these last few weeks I have been in awe of the magnificent colors of the trees. And–as I’ve said on numerous occasions–one tends to see more when they are on a bike or foot. Anyhow, the above photo and the first two below were taken this evening on my way home from my second job (they were all taken on Linwood Avenue, which has a great two-way bike lane), and the bottom photo was taken in the morning on my way to my first job (Elmwood Avenue). This evening I was in fact so taken by the colors that I was looking up and almost ran into the rear of a parked car. Click any photo for a slightly larger image.

Urban Simplicity.

A few things I saw while riding my bike yesterday…

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Urban Simplicity

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