Medina Journal-Register — MIDDLEPORT — Medina native Joe Waszak is the latest artist to have his work featured at the Lamp Lighter Gallery & Studio, an occasion that was celebrated for both his talent and the growth of the local arts community.
Waszak’s work is inspired by the idea that photography captures the frozen moments in time that go unnoticed each day. After taking photographs of bleak, icy scenes last winter, Waszak said he looked back into his older work to find other pieces driven by the same theme.
“I like to work with black and white abstractions,” explained Waszak, a Medina High School and SUNY Cortland graduate. “It all about the strange angles, the things that people wouldn’t take a second look at.”
An opening reception for Waszak’s “Particles & Waves” gallery exhibition attracted a large and appreciative crowd to the Main Street arts space Friday. The new exhibit runs through the end of March and starts a new season of events at the gallery.
“I was blown away,” Waszak said Tuesday of the big reaction to the event. “I never expected a turnout like that ... it was a scene.”
Waszak’s work was the focal point Friday, but the euphoria was shared by the gallery’s diverse group of resident artists, whose works fill the year-old studio. The Lamp Lighter opened last March in a vacant storefront in the heart of Middleport’s downtown, bringing together the efforts of artists from communities along the canal.
“It’s a nice combination of a gallery and a studio,” Dan Seaman, who owns the gallery and traded credit for the idea with artist Cindy Meal. “We’re pleased with how it’s developed ... it’s amazing how much local talent there is.”
Lamp Lighter artists Jennifer Scott, Carol and Cindy Meal, Laura Terranova-Hamilton, Erica Joan Wanecski and Paul Facklam have brought their diverse artistic disciplines to the shared space. While their work and family lives keep the studio from being open on a regular schedule, the artists make sure to gather together to work alongside one another as often as possible.
“I come here for the great company — it’s fun working together and seeing all the different media,” said Wanecski, whose line drawings of local scenes and figures fit between Facklam’s large paintings and Terranova-Hamilton’s stained glass sculptures.
When it’s not serving as a populated gallery, the studio allows the artists to separate home and art life.
“Before I joined I had glass all over my house, solder in my kitchen,” said Terranova-Hamilton, who builds her pieces using local beach glass. “It’s been wonderful now that I’m here.”
The Lamp Lighters’ resident artists are hoping to expand the number of exhibits, events and participants at their versatile home in the coming years. An exhibit featuring the works of Middleport native Dan Bernard will launch at the conclusion of Waszak’s run; Cindy Meal said that Buffalo-based artist Pete Fowler’s work will be shown in July.
“It’s taken on a life of it’s own with events and new ideas,” Meal said.
The Lamp Lighter has grown alongside an arts community due in part to the connections of local artists on both sides of the county line. The intermingling through musical, literary and artistic events and projects yields more opportunities to showcase local talent, whether it’s in connected works or simply supporting one another.
Waszak’s exhibit came about after he ran into Scott at the launch party for the Oak Orchard Review in October. The Review, an online arts and literary magazine organized by Genesee Community College staff and local artists, brought together many of the artists involved in projects like the Lamp Lighter.
“He was one of my darkroom students,” Scott said. “I’m proud to exhibit his work ... we have wonderful local artists.”
“It feels good to see something on the wall,” Waszak said shortly before a crowd descended on the studio. “This is a nice little venue for these events.”
By having a place to show off their work among peers, friends and the larger community, the Lamp Lighter has given an extra boost to local artists. Facklam, an art teacher at Roy-Hart Elementary School, said he made sure to have new pieces completed before the reception.
“It’s fun having people see your stuff,” Facklam said. “If you keep it in, there’s no incentive
to do more.”Contact reporter Jim Krencik at 798-1400, ext. 6327.