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Saylor makes connections in exhibit

Dana Saylor is well known in Buffalo for her work as a preservationist, genealogist and organizer of community-based arts events. Over the last few years she has been producing her own art, and with her upcoming exhibit at the Western New York Book Arts Center on Washington Street, Saylor is pulling these streams of interest even closer together.

As the fourth artist in the WNYBAC “5X12” series, Saylor presents the exhibition “Confluence: Collision of Form” made up mainly of her pen-and-ink and watercolor works depicting Buffalo buildings from the Victorian era through the Modern era. The show opens with a reception at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Since moving here with her husband in 2008, Saylor has become a co-founder of Emerging Leaders in the Arts Buffalo (ELAB), an organizer of City of Night and a teacher in Art in the World, all while continuing to be an active genealogist and adviser to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, speaking and writing about placemaking in Western New York.

Joining her related, but different, interests is the focus of the show, and Saylor describes it as “major step in a personal and professional evolution” moving from preservation purist to the more flexible and apt “creative placemaker.”

“Confluence is the connectivity between art forms, preservation and history,” she said.

To this end, alongside her artwork Saylor has constructed a historic timeline documenting world events, architectural changes and local Buffalo events, providing an opportunity to discover how places in the city have changed under the influence of particular urban-planning polices and ideas. Recognizing that the exhibit could feel like a museum, she purposefully separated the work from the information on the timeline, letting the viewer work through the context.

Saylor also has allowed the public an opportunity to comment and shape part of the exhibit with the inclusion of a comment wall. Saylor held a mini-residency at the Pop In on Grant Street the week of Aug. 3, preparing for this exhibit and discussing architecture, urban planning and historic preservation. Comments shared during that week were collected on cards, and will be on display at WNYBAC, where she hopes the conversation will continue. More cards will be added during the opening Saturday.

The opening also represents an even larger step professionally for Saylor, as she takes her genealogical research into new territory as a community benefit corporation called Confluence: Creative Engagement. Her website – – already has had a makeover to the new identity.

“Confluence is something I’ve been thinking about for a while,” she said.

Her new exhibit will provide a window into some of those thoughts. A diary of Saylor’s personal reflections and writing about the exhibit will be available with a small donation to the WNYBAC.

As part of the series, she also will host two free artist’s talks and workshops including a “plein air” walking session in downtown Buffalo on Oct. 3 and 10.


What: “Confluence: Collision of Form,” an exhibition by Dana Saylor

When: Sept. 5 through Oct. 17 with an opening reception at 6 p.m. Sept. 5

Where: Western New York Book Arts Center, 468 Washington St.

Admission: Free