UB student artists find a home for their muses in Kenmore’s One Hour Gallery
“Welcome to the One Hour Gallery. If you like us, put $ in the toilet. If you don’t like us: Go to hell!” So says the sign on the toilet that doubles as the collection plate for Kenmore’s One Hour Gallery. This rebellious attitude combines with brilliant art to create a hidden gem in Buffalo’s ever-growing art subculture.
One Hour Gallery, located at 2331 Elmwood Avenue is in a simple, two-story apartment building. At first glance, one may think that it is a coffee shop: the gallery’s logo, a creative satire of the Starbucks logo, (drawn by local artist Dave Chung, and featuring an ecstatic monkey hoisting a hot beverage over his head) takes up most of the space on each of the large picture windows.
The One Hour Gallery was started by UB art students Aron Mott and Albert Chao. In the beginning, Mott just wanted to rent out a space so that he could exhibit some of his art work. This early space had the name “Untitled Art Gallery.”
“Aron just wanted a space,” said Doug Borsuk, the current president of the gallery. “He didn’t see it going any further.” However, as word of mouth spread interest, the gallery went much farther.
That first year was Mott’s senior year. Chao was able to continue running the gallery. He was joined by Borsuk, Dennis Plucinik (the only business major; the rest of the officers are various types of art majors), and Dave Chung, who became the president. This is when the gallery’s name was changed to “One Hour.” When Chung moved to Detroit two semesters ago, Borsuk took over as president. Today, Borsuk, Plucinik, Chao, and vice president Libby Donnoe run the Gallery.
Money is an issue at One Hour. They are not directly funded by the University at Buffalo, although most of the artists featured are UB students. According to Borsuk and Plucinik, UB’s Student Visual Arts Organization (SVAO) mandates that visual arts students must hold events to exhibit their work. One Hour receives some funding from SVAO, but very little. The gallery, which is non-profit, pays for most of its overhead with money from donations and commercial sales within the gallery. One Hour sells artists’ prints at relatively low prices, as well as local music CDs. A counter, just like that at a convenience store, is located at the front of the gallery. It features five dollar David Chung prints (he is always willing to sign them if he is present) and other works displayed like magazines in a newsstand.
The gallery also has a full service bar, squeezed into the back corner of the lounge that is adjacent to the gallery. They serve beer, mixed drinks, and wine. All income from these sales is called “donations.”
The artists are often forced to make “donations” to themselves. “We’re kind of in the hole,” Plucinik says, referring to the gallery’s current financial status.
The main goal of One Hour, according to the officers, is to provide “an alternative space for students to get the hell out of the school.” There was a great deal of animosity towards the UB art department during one night at the Gallery.
It was the opening of “Peanuts,” an art installation created by Emily Schneider, Erik Frick, and Vice President Donnoe. An installation is an exhibit that takes up the entire gallery, and is not just bound to a medium such as pictures on the wall. “Peanuts” featured the entire main gallery full of loose fill peanuts (the little foam pieces used to protect the contents of a fragile package). Patrons were literally able to swim in the peanuts. In the center of the gallery was a table with 8 bowls of modern rice paper packing peanuts, each with chopsticks (the artists suggest that these peanuts are edible). There were also three traditional exhibits on the wall, which depicted mitosis, DNA, and genetic hierarchy. As artist Frick explains, the theme of the exhibit is “evolution,” how peanuts went from dangerous Styrofoam to environmentally-friendly rice paper.
Turnout for “Peanuts” was rather low, with only eight patrons, all of whom were friends of the artists and officers. The small group of people gathered at One Hour debated the state of art in Buffalo.
“The UB art department is like a black hole,” says Borsuk. He calls the Center for the Arts a “rentable hall.” Artist Mike Rakoczy says that in recent years, the UB art program put too much focus on concept as opposed to introduction to technique and materials. In the past year, according to Rakoczy, UB lost its heads of drawing, printing, and print making. He says that today’s UB art program focuses on “specific money makers,” such as digital photography. Referring to One Hour and Bajudou, a gallery that he runs on Main Street in Buffalo, he says “these places allow students to communicate and show work the way it should be shown, and develop the way the art scene works, in the short term.”
On the other hand, One Hour founder Chao believes that the UB art program is “what you make of it.” He says that programs such as illustration were cut because all of the good artists associated with those programs have passed away. He also says that because UB is not an art university per se, there is a general trend towards conceptual art. Despite differing views, both agree that it is the student run gallery that provides the perfect medium for exhibiting works of art. One Hour provides a free, uncensored space for any artist to show their work.
Artists are not limited to UB students. This semester, One Hour will host exhibits featuring illustrator Scott Swales, and UB graduate Chris Mostyn, as well as students’ work and live music. One Hour Gallery is a place where one can “hang out and relax,” according to the relaxed yet focused artists that run the establishment.