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Elmwood Arts Festival is ‘quintessential Buffalo’

Carrying a table carved in the body of a guitar, Pat Stack scoured the Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts for pieces to decorate the music room he’s putting together.

Stack regards the Elmwood festival as one of his favorites, and he said he’s attended at least the last dozen years.

“It’s a little bit more eclectic,” the Youngstown man said. “You find the oddball stuff. … I knew I’d find something here.”

The 14th rendering of the festival showcased work from more than 170 local artists and crafts people. The event, which also features an accompanying Kids Fest, continues Sunday.

Standing on a raised wooden platform that peeked over other vendors’ white tent tops, James Sawyer had a birds-eye view of the festivalgoers streaming up and down Elmwood Avenue on Saturday. The wooden sphere contraption Sawyer stood on was shaped after a cuboctohedron and doubled as a raised deck, giving passersby pause.

Sawyer is an advocate for patterning modern technology after more energy-efficient, six dimensional design instead of three-dimensional, square-like designs.

Buffalo is “open to change,” said Sawyer’s work partner Marla Wagner, making the Elmwood festival a prime locale for the construction.

The festival captivates the inviting nature of the area, Wagner said.

“I like the culture and really the friendliness of strangers, daily. People are willing to help strangers. It’s special.”

Below the raised set-up, Rebecca Butler, of Kenmore, perused Sawyer’s stained glass artwork and said she delighted in being able to support local artists.

“It’s really built up by the local people. We did this,” she said. “It’s just a real work of art, frankly.”

“It’s quintessential Buffalo. People come together to do this stuff,” she added.

For Jessica Machols, the festival, like Elmwood is a marriage of old and new.

“It’s kind of new age meets vintage,” she described.

Vendor Melissa Buckley sold crafted decorative pieces from antique items that cater to modern tastes. Utilizing a technique called assemblage, Buckley, 48, repurposed a drawer from an antique sewing machine and lined it with vintage newspaper. She fixed a toy wood block and old telephone earpiece inside the drawer.

Other items included makeshift flowers made from buttons sitting in glass vases. Some pieces were adorned with toy doll heads. No matter how quirky, all of Buckley’s craftsmanship is embraced and appreciated at the festival, she said.

“People down here have more of an eclectic spirit. It’s just different down here,” she said.

Ryan Reed, 33, said she comes every year because of festival’s intimacy. She also supports local merchants and artists, instead of big-box retailers.

“The city needs the love,” she said.


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