Art Exhibit: Chaz Buscaglia
Solo Exhibition: Recent Portraits
Chaz Buscaglia, “Carmen” mixed media on paper, 18×24 in.
1896 Niagara Street
Buffalo, NY 14204
|February 1 – February 28, 2019
Gallery Hours by Appointment
|February 28, 2019
5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Chaz Buscaglia’s interest in drawing began at an early age. As a child, he enjoyed making his own books out of copier paper, stapling sheets together and filling each page with his drawings, often drawings about music or musical instruments. Music continues to be an avid interest; in particular, the artist is a devotee of jazz, classic soul and R&B, and The Beach Boys.
Buscaglia joined the Artists of Autism Services studio after high school, and caught the eye of his teaching artist, who observed his small drawings had the potential to translate to larger paintings.
In 2016, music inspired a turning point in Buscaglia’s work when he created a portrait of Billie Holiday for the group exhibition “American Music: Paintings Inspired by Jazz and Blues” at WNED’s Horizons Gallery. He painted Holiday delicately posed with head in hand, accessorized in subtle gold with pink flowers in her hair, a crisp white cuff emerging from beneath her black sleeve. The combination of Buscaglia’s chosen media, subject matter, and process unlocked the fullness of his artistic expression and voice. The painting became the promotional image for the exhibit, including a print ad in The Public and digital image shared on social media. Months later Buscaglia’s portrait “Audrey” was included in “Black+White” at Big Orbit Gallery, and was chosen for a centerfold in The Public.
Buscaglia’s flair for capturing characteristics of personal adornment was now established, his bold, graphic style well suited for reproduction. A fan of Old Hollywood glamour, he painted Liz Taylor, Dorothy Dandridge, and Mae West for “Throwback” at WNED’s Horizons Gallery in 2017. The portrait of Taylor was chosen for a Public cover and it accompanied Jack Foran’s review of the exhibit. Soon after, Buscaglia’s work graced the cover of The Public again, making him one of fewer than five artists known to have earned this number of featured spots in the publication.
The second Public cover was a portrait of Elvin Shepherd, a founding member of the Historic Colored Musicians Club of Buffalo. In Buscaglia’s painting, Shepherd plays the saxophone, sharply dressed in a black suit and red tie, as music notes dance at his shoulder. This piece and his painting of Dodo Greene were Buscaglia’s contributions to a portrait series of CMC founders to commemorate the Club’s Centennial Celebration. Buscaglia painted Greene regarding the viewer with a penetrating gaze, wearing a tailored, hot pink, strapless gown.
Buscaglia frequently uses the word “beauty” to describe hairstyles, fashion, and jewelry, and in his work he either reproduces these elements exactly, or re-designs them entirely. Carmen’s fruit headdress becomes a woven basket of flowers and Elizabeth’s corsage becomes a stylized trio of yellow narcissus, while every minute detail of Veronica’s wire-rimmed glasses is portrayed true to the original. The artist’s occasional non-figural subjects are also expertly edited and re-interpreted. Buscaglia chooses references from a file of images that attract and inspire him. He reworks an initial line drawing in pencil until he achieves exactly what he wants, and he is a perfectionist. After painting the image in its entirety, he lastly redefines the contour lines in oil-based marker, his vision complete in his role as the ultimate designer and stylist for his subjects.
This exhibition is free and open to the public by appointment.