Visual Arts

Pedro Manuel's Drawing at Spot Coffee

by / Jun. 29, 2016 2am EST

A dozen or so of artist Pedro Manuel’s superb ink and ink wash drawings of Buffalo heritage architectural sites are on display in the Spot Coffee on Delaware at Chippewa. 

In a brief artist’s statement, Manuel describes his work as “romantic interpretation of the city’s history and cultural heritage.” These are current-state depictions of the historical structures, but a little as ghost images, or memory images, often against gray wash backdrops or surrounds that cancel out any obtrusively contemporary nearby buildings or effects. Or sometimes with gray wash over the whole picture, as if to distance the subject structure behind a scrim curtain of misty remembrance. 

The depiction of the wonderful Renaissance Roman Buffalo Savings Bank at Main and Genesee streets (now part of an M&T Bank complex) washes out street-level specifics but includes in the background a rough sketch version of the nearby Renaissance pastiche Electric Tower, and modernist office buildings along Main Street as far as the behemoth graceless former HSBC Towers reduced to grid schematics. 

Another work, nominally focused on the Electric Tower—from a ground-level perspective looking northwest along Genesee Street—gives near equal attention to the adjacent on the other side of the street Buffalo Savings Bank again, lesser attention to the lovely penthouse complex atop the Hyatt Regency hotel.

The architectural nonpareils are here in force. The twin towers Henry Hobson Richardson former insane asylum building looming majestically above trees in full foliage concealing adjacent more mundane structures. The Louis Sullivan Prudential building in a veritable diptych along with neighboring English Gothic St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, the medieval and modern co-existing on equal footing. And Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House, looking more compact in this version than extensive. A mound, a mole, a little like an ancient Mesoamerican stepwise pyramid. Shades of Teotihuacán.

An unusual-perspective view of the Albright-Knox complex. One of the west façade pillared Greek temple fronts peeking over the walkway wall—a little like the Parthenon peeking over the acropolis at Athens—with the elegant black box modernist addition stretching out in the background. 

The Asbury Methodist church—now Babeville—gray washed over as if in a downpour. Similar weather effects suggestions with the former New York Central Terminal complex near Broadway and Fillmore, and the Botanical Gardens complex in South Park.

 Lovely artwork all in all. The Pedro Manuel display is entitled A Walk in the City

 Artwork by Pedro Manuel 
 Spot Coffee 
 227 Delaware Ave, Buffalo