Starlight Studio and Art Gallery – Buffalo Rising

Author: Jen Swan


For this month’s spotlight, I had the opportunity to visit two organizations that focus on inclusiveness in the arts to speak with artists about their projects. The talented artists of Starlight Studio and Art Gallery and the dazzling cast, staff and writers of Unique Theater Company both create captivating works that you certainly won’t want to miss.


On Delaware Avenue, across from Babeville, sits an unmistakable apartment building nestled between two commercial office buildings. You’ve probably been there a number of times; may have been intrigued by its brightly colored wall facade and inviting large glass doors and windows. Yes that’s right, we’re talking about Starlight studio and art gallery and their team of talented artists.

Founded in 2005, Starlight Studio is a “cooperative environment that supports adults with disabilities in their artistic development”. Most recently, the Starlight artists participated in a collaborative project with Lara Buckley and the Hickory Urban Sanctuary on Pratt Street in Buffalo, where they were inspired by the natural environment and wildlife. The project entitled “Magnified Observations: The Art of Nature” was a resounding success and gave rise to three public events; two at the Hickory Urban Sanctuary and one at the Starlight Studio and Art Gallery.

I was able to discover the results of the collaboration during the event organized at the gallery on October 1st. The gallery space has been transformed into a complete multimedia experience with a recreation of the sanctuary space through a tunnel-shaped light fixture (main image) draped in plant material and lined with the participant’s colorful mural painted throughout throughout the program. Full-length banners decorated by the Starlight artists adorned the windows, giving the entire space a magical, secluded feel.

When I arrived at the gallery, I was quickly greeted by Andy Calderon, a Starlight artist and poet who was giving a reading of his poetry later that evening. We chatted as he walked with me to the side gallery where one of his paintings was displayed, a watercolor aloe plant in a bright purple pot.

Calderon’s painting (see photo) was not only an ode to this dying plant he had cared for, it was also an exercise in color and movement for the artist. You would never know from looking at his painting that the aloe plant when it was drawn was on the verge of death as the colors Calderon chose are exuberant and represent the plant for the life he saw inside. . If you visit his shopping arcade on the Starlight Studio website, you’ll see that much of his work features plants and animals as well as the tasteful use of repeating patterns and bright colors.

His poetry book is also for sale on the Starlight online store. I can personally attest that Andy is a talented poet. He extracted a few lines from a sentence on a shirt someone was wearing and his rhymes were fluid and delivered with a zest for life that will make you smile.

I also had the pleasure of speaking to Starlight artist Janet Harrison who presented a solo show that evening called “Music Inspired”. She recounted her experience at Hickory Sanctuary and specifically the chickens they were able to interact with in space! His show featured a large chalk mural adorned with the names of familiar bands and musical artists. There was also music played by these groups to accompany Janet’s mural and other artwork on display throughout the Blue Sink Cafe neighborhood.

According to the Starlight website, Janet is “enthusiastic about art and enjoys incorporating various motifs into her drawings and paintings, including Celtic motifs, stained glass windows, and fantastic illustrations.” She has a very distinct style that incorporates portraiture and a flair for nostalgic colors and designs such as bikes. My favorite work is available for purchase from the Starlight website and titled “Trees of Mendocino”. This 9-foot-long artwork features pinks, yellows, blues and purples with a quintessentially California vibe and a beautiful blend of textures and shapes through the use of colored pencils and watercolors.

Next time you’re driving in Delaware and spot this brightly colored building, I highly recommend stopping inside Starlight studio and art gallery. The people are warm and friendly, and you can browse and buy works of art that, like the artists themselves, will be unique.


Stay tuned for Unique Theater Company


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