BAM! (Buffalo Art Movement is an art gallery named by its founder, Francisco Hernandez-Illizaliturri (aka Paco), a lifelong fan and collector of comic books. Paco, a doctor, is on the staff of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and is also a longtime scholar and collector of art. BAM!’s daily operations are manned by a gay couple: marketing director Jeffrey Heras, and creative director Joe Babcock.
Located within the Pierce Arrow building where luxury Pierce-Arrow Motor Cars were once created, BAM! has a reception area opening into an impressive array of galleries of different sizes – six in all if you count the walls of Paco’s office. The gallery is dedicated to showing the work of local artists and has a roster of twenty who they represent: BAM! holds regular opening receptions for their exhibitions, and sell artwork via their website.
“We’ve made an inviting space here,” says Jeffrey, “there’s a warm vibe that you feel when you walk in the door.” “People sense the authenticity here, and we present artists as well as their artistic process: we take their passion and put that into the marketing,” adds Joe. “Our exhibits bring emerging artists together with more-established artists so that a cross-pollination happens,” Jeffrey says, “and our galleries become a meeting place. Paco’s passion project has become our passion project.”
“When I was in medical school it could be very isolating so I studied art to better connect with other people outside that world, says Paco. “Later, I began to talk – and learn from – gallery owners, artists, and books. BAM! is a word that you see when you’re a kid reading comic books and it was easy to expand that into Buffalo Art Movement, a showcase of art by artists in WNY.
“Being gay is part of our identity, we want to be present there and to give the message to young gay people that they can rise, they can see other gay people who are successful. They can trust, and learn that they can be successful in whatever they have a passion for.”