March 8, 1958 – Sept. 18, 2019
For more than 30 years, Mark A. Corsi was a fixture at the corner of Elmwood and Bird avenues with his iconic store Poster Art. Open and warm, he made every passerby feel like an old friend. He kept the street swept, the trash cans from overflowing and the flowers watered. Even more, he made sure the people in the neighborhood were taken care of, especially those with mental illness. He took people into the convenience store across the street to buy them food and drinks, and made sure they had warm coats and boots in the winter.
"He was really the glue in that area," said Paul Antonio, Corsi's friend and owner of the 24 Hour Store across Elmwood Avenue. "He always stayed on top of us, pushed us to take extra pride in our location, not just the cleanliness and supporting community events but in the way we treat people."
Mr. Corsi died at Hospice Buffalo Mitchell Campus Wednesday after a brief illness. He was 61.
Well known and well loved in Western New York, Mr. Corsi saw an outpouring of support when he was diagnosed with cancer less than two months ago. In his honor, the sign over the 24 Hour Store has been changed to read "Love to Bro!," the nickname by which many knew him. Off Beat Cinema, the late-night, locally produced television show Mr. Corsi co-sponsored for more than 20 years, paid special tribute to him on air Saturday night.
Being surrounded by the love of friends gave him "such serenity and comfort," said his sister Lucille Matteliano.
"I think his whole life he just paid it forward and now he was on the receiving end," she said. "Anywhere there was a need, there was Mark, without hesitation. He loved and he was loved."
A 1976 graduate of St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute, he received his bachelor's degree in biology from SUNY Buffalo State College in 1980.
In the early 1980s, as a band promoter and owner of Closet Punk Productions, Mr. Corsi brought some of the biggest punk acts to play at the defunct club, The Continental. Among them: Black Flag, the Damned, the Gun Club, Howard Devoto and Billy Idol. He also tended bar at the city's hippest night spots: Rude Boys on Hertel Avenue and the Crash Club on Virginia Street.
"Mark was always on the cutting edge of the whole scene. He was instrumental in the punk scene in Western New York, without question," said Don Lillo, a close friend since those early days. "People don’t realize what a legendary guy he really was."
His stepdaughter Madeline Gilson came into his life as a toddler.
"He was so excited to share her and introduce her to everybody," said Lori Cappellazzo, a collaborator and close friend.
A nature lover, Mr. Corsi walked Delaware Park every morning. He kept peanuts in his pockets for the squirrels and he carried treats for dogs and cats he would encounter throughout the day. Friends said he had a way of making everyone feel important, and made strangers feel comfortable and special.
Mr. Corsi collaborated on many iconic Buffalo artworks sold in his store, where he boosted Buffalo and its sports teams, and embraced the city's reputation for snow.
"He made a lot of posters and T-shirts and made snow country something to be proud of," said Dan Cappellazzo, another friend who worked with Mr. Corsi. "I guess it's fortunate that a guy like that happened to have a store in the Elmwood Village that was so visible and such a vital part of Buffalo."
Many said he embodied Buffalo's best qualities.
"He appreciated music and art. He was always there to help you out. He always looked on the positive side," said friend Jim Gillan. "He was just a very real person and a true character."
In recent weeks, Poster Art's store hours have been cut. The family doesn't yet know what will become of the business.
"I would hope that it would continue and stay as part of the Elmwood experience, but it's just way too soon, we're still reeling," said his cousin, Henry Schmidt. "As Mark would say, we'll keep you 'postered.' "
In addition to his sister and stepdaughter, he is survived by a brother, Michael A. Corsi. A celebration of life will be held at a later date.
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