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Jozef Bajus, Gold Rush, September 28 – November 1, 2018

Since 2005, Jozef Bajus has focused on eco-activist art, believing that art can and should actually change the environment for the better. His work consistently reimagines the detritus of contemporary culture. Through a myriad of meticulous processes, he imagines another future for that which is too often discarded.

For this exhibition, Bajus has created  artworks that spoke to the important work conducted by some of the nearly 100 tenants of Tri-Main Center, a 575,000 sq. ft. former industrial site designed by architect Albert Kahn. As Bajus walked the six floors of Tri-Main, he struck gold; metal bands that once held pallets of furniture for Mid City Office Equipment, Inc., now dangle and dance across the gallery walls. Empty cans of acetone from Great Arrow Graphics become a landscape of forms literally created by stomping feet. Remnants of rubber tubing from Rollers, Inc, were knotted together by Aspire of WNY, Inc. Co-op participants and then sewn through the wall between the galleries. Styrofoam planks from Diversified Labor Solutions, a Division of Cantalician Center, were assembled into a dynamic bundle that appears to march into the gallery space fully formed. In the recycling station of the building’s loading dock, Bajus came upon thousands of flattened gift boxes. Bajus salvaged the precious gold and silver nuggets and strung them into title work Gold Rush. By investigating the industries of Tri-Main, as well as the refuse from their production, Bajus constructed strikingly diverse objects that bring new understanding to the possibilities that lie within what is too often tossed aside.

Biography

Originally from Slovakia, Jozef Bajus received his MFA from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, (AFAD), Bratislava. He began his teaching career AFAD, where he headed the Fibre Arts program. Currently, Bajus is an Associate Professor at SUNY Buffalo State College, Buffalo, New York and serves as the Coordinator of the Fibers/Design Program. His work has earned him awards locally and around the world including The George Soros Fellowship Award; Residency at Rutgers University and the Judith Brodsky Center for Print and Paper, New Brunswick, New Jersey; Esprit de Corps Award, Burchfield Penney Art Center (BPAC), Buffalo, New York, and the Langley H. Kenzie Award, BPAC, Buffalo.

Bajus’ work has been exhibited in numerous solo, and groups exhibitions, nationally and internationally, and is in the collection of museums and galleries worldwide including the Slovak National Gallery, Bratislava; The City Gallery of Bratislava – Mirbach Palace, Bratislava; all in Slovakia; as well as the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo; the Gregg Museum of Art and Design in Raleigh, North Carolina; The Racine Art Museum in Racine, Wisconsin; Szombathely Art Museum in Szombathely, Hungary; and The Moravian Art & Craft Museum in Brno, Czech Republic.

Post-Curatorial Essay by Marilyn Sozanski

Jozef Bajus began his installation at Buffalo Arts Studio by searching Tri-Main Center , 600,000 sq ft of widely diverse businesses and organizations. He was seeking materials, the by products of manufacturing and other processes, the remains that tenants throw away. Jozef asked me to help investigate possible resources for his show, by visiting tenants, loading docks and dumpsters, seeing the potential for creating his work in the things that no one wanted. I listened as he explained his vision to dubious tenants and I began to “see” the value in rubber strips, used turpentine cans, metal bands and strips of Styrofoam. But I wasn’t prepared for the power that resulted in the finished installation. The collection of materials represented the beauty in discarded materials, and how much we throw away.

Tri-Main Center has a vibrant recycling program, but there are many unseen items that go into the landfill, items that might find a second life. The materials that Jozef identified for his show became so much more when amassed and organized. They were no longer the by products but the main product.

The building that houses Tri-Main Center began as a factory and has had a long history in manufacturing. It was built in 1915 as a Ford factory and after building 60,000 cars there, it was used to build propeller – less planes, then motors and last, windshield wipers. As one of the first day-light factories, with abundant natural light and wide corridors, it has been able to have another life as a mixed use building. Artists, human services and manufacturers form a community there in this current era. The materials that Jozef found and selected reflect the manufacturing heritage of the building, integrating them with the rich art life that has developed.

Marilyn Sozanski works in planning and building management as the Project Administrator for Tri-Main Development. She is a community volunteer who works with Artfarms, People’s Park and Nativity Miguel School facilitating inquiry-based science instruction. She also supports Buffalo’s Ukrainian community as a board member and bartender at the Dnipro Ukrainian Cultural Center in Buffalo. She values the authentic evolving community at Tri-Main Center, which offers opportunities to engage individuals and create relationships every day, making it a wonderful place to work.

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