Witnessing the Creative Process at Buffalo Arts Studio

By Nancy J. Parisi

Published on | Last Updated

Buffalo Arts Studio, located on the fifth floor of bustling Tri-Main Center on Main Street (the main entrance is on Halbert Street around the corner) near the city’s Parkside neighborhood, is a pillar of the city’s art scene. With dozens of resident artists, an extensive education program, and a year-round exhibition schedule, BAS is a place for fine art lovers. 

Visiting Tri-Main Center is a treat for the senses. Colorful flowers bloom in heavy planters by the entrance, people are always buzzing about the massive lobby in this former industrial space (Tri-Main is a reference to Trico windshield wipers, which were once manufactured here), and the scents of delicious fare waft from The Lunchbox restaurant and Landies Candies.

Founded in 1991, BAS began with the vision of a local artist, Joanna Angie, who created a communal and safe environment for artists of all genres. Gradually BAS expanded into the 20,000 square feet it fills today. Open five days a week (BAS is closed on Sundays and Mondays) anyone may visit the galleries, gift shop and resident artist studios. 

Julia Bottoms at BAS / Photo: Buffalo Arts Studio

BAS studio artists are a diverse mix of established artists and those beginning their artistic practice. To become a studio artist means an application, interview with resident artists, and proof of an active studio practice. It’s acceptable – and part of the mission – for visitors to witness the creative process and to ask artists questions. 

“Studio visits are on the casual side, and you can have privacy if you need it, no one will intrude,” says Julia Bottoms, an artist who makes figurative portraits. “Our studios are open in the sense that it allows people to see what goes into producing art. Society sometimes creates the idea that art just makes itself; when people see artists in their studios they see the amount of actual work we put into pieces — you can see the  progression of a piece from week to week, and how hard we work to make it come to life. It allows young artists and students to get an idea of what it means to be an artist.”

Muhammad Zaman at his studio at BAS / Photo: Nancy J. Parisi

“I’m in my studio four or five days a week for a few hours each time,” says Muhammad Zaman, who’s known for calligraphic work on paper and canvas. “It’s really nice to have a studio at BAS. When you have a home studio you can get bored but at BAS there are people always around – other artists, and visitors. You can engage with them, and they can learn about your work. We get all types of people visiting, some are high school students, some are college students, and there are also artists visiting from different places. They’ll admire the work and have questions about your artistic process.”

Adult art classes abound (and fill up quickly): offerings may be found on the BAS website. Clay classes are popular, learning how to throw pieces on a wheel, but classes may reflect the practice and focus of a resident artist. BAS’s Jump Start Program is one of the most vital youth arts educational opportunities within the city, with approximately 40 high school students aged 13-18 selected for this yearlong program that meets weekly on Saturdays. 

“Every two years we have The Jump Start exhibit, open to current participants as well as past cohorts,” says BAS Director of Visual Arts Shirley Verrico. Additionally, there is the annual Studio Artist Show and Sale, always held in December in time for holiday gift-giving. BAS is also renowned for their annual fundraisers; huge social events drawing a large art-buying, people-watching, and drink-sipping crowd in the BAS galleries, studios, and classrooms.

Buffalo Arts Studio visitors will have an artful respite with an array of work to see and experience – all within the welcoming micro-community in the Tri-Main hive of creativity, activism, and commerce. 

Buffalo Arts Studio
2495 Main Street, Suite 500, Buffalo, NY

Nancy J. Parisi headshot

Nancy J. Parisi

Nancy is a social documentation photographer based in Buffalo, NY.