Well, I grew up in the smallest city in the state of NY, Sherrill. It’s located about 3 hours east of here, between Syracuse and Utica. I lived there till I was 18 and then went off to college in the Midwest. I returned to NYS in 2014 after finishing my masters, to help my family with an urgent matter, after having lived in California for 10 years. In needing to stay close to my parents, (less than a 52 hour car ride), a cousin that I grew up with in Sherrill, invited me to visit Buffalo. Just like the many people who have found themselves living in this fair city, I fell in love; it’s beauty, the architecture, the energy, the people, and for its potential. After returning back to CNY, within a month I developed a business plan for what became, Project Grant, and in the following month, I moved to the Queen City.
About the Cass Project
In December 2016, I embarked on a new project at 500 Seneca, in partnership with local businessman, Sam Savarino, called, The Cass Project. It’s an arts and cultural initiative for 500 Seneca that includes a rotating exhibition space in the main lobby for local, emerging and under-represented artists; transforming the old boiler room of the warehouse into a performance and installation space for artists near and far to experiment across genres; and lastly, to build out the permanent art collection of the building. Our goal is to make 500 Seneca an art beacon on that side of town, and to provide opportunities for the local arts community.
The Cass Project and Buffalo
Everywhere I live, I invest in the surrounding area by providing opportunities for others, and in creating a place where community can gather. I hope that my new endeavor will continue along this trajectory, and assist in growing the number of paid opportunities for artists, so the gap between the rich and the poor can begin to decrease. The “bohemian” artist way of life is so over glorified that it makes me sick. I’m tired of corporations/institutions “capitalizing” on our lifestyle, as we stay living below poverty life. Why should anyone have to work more than one job to stay a float.
What do you love about our city?
The architecture, history, and the personal tales that each individual carries with them; whether they’re born here, or they’ve spent a significant amount of time here. They are a walking volume of the encyclopedia about something Buffalo related. People here possess a real dedication for the place known as their home, Buffalo.
What could Buffalo, work on?
Acceptance & Integration – as do most places that are experiencing a “revitalization,” (Rust Belt Cities). In order for there to be progress, We need to allow change to occur, with the integration of the old and the new, offering space at the table for all perspectives to have a say, not just the most dominant.
Favorite local hangout spot?
With the warmer weather, I’m enjoying walks along the Outer Harbor. In colder temps or late nights, I like to play pool at Electric Avenue, and I always enjoy the good cheap eats and delicious drinks at Ballyhoo.
What would you tell a younger version of yourself?
Oh man, too many things…but I will share this with the readers: Follow your gut, because you know yourself better than anyone else.
For more info on The Cass Project, visit the website: http://thecassproject.org/