Jun 18, 2012

Artists Set Up Shop and Residence on East Side

Recently during one of my weekly walks around Buffalo, I stumbled upon something special on the east side. Two young, creative artists and friends who have set up shop off Broadway just outside of downtown were hard at work getting their woodworking shop in order. Nathaniel Hall and Eric Jude Mott were nice enough to take me on a tour of their building at 343 Hickory Street. They currently occupy the first floor primarily, but are working on making repairs and alterations to the second floor for a unique gallery and living space. They have been in the space since September of last year.
Mott and Hall in front of their Hickory Street Shop
Mott is not originally from Buffalo, but fell in love with the city shortly after his arrival. He enrolled in the furniture program at Buffalo State College where he met Nathaniel Hall. Before coming to Buffalo, Nathaniel had been designing and producing furniture and functional products for years. He has worked at the high end Lee Weitzman Furniture company in Chicago, he opened his own shop for a period, and worked as a carpenter in Las Vegas for a period of time.

After about a year at Buffalo State, the two were disappointed with program and decided that investing in $40,000 in shop equipment was a better investment than a $40,000 piece of paper, so they joined forces and set up shop. I caught up with the pair shortly after my visit to their shop and was fortunate enough to get a ton of info from them both. They settled on the east side primarily because of the incredible amount of great spaces with very affordable rates. The building they found could not have been more perfect, the rent is reasonable, they have a great relationship with the landlord who is allowing them to alter and define the space as they like, and they're only minutes outside of downtown. "The east side wasn't a conscious decision," explains Mott, "It wasn't until sometime after that we realized the importance of the east side."
Inlaid wood bracelets
The flexibility and expression of creativity in design keeps Hall going every day, "As an artist, what we dream can become reality," says Hall, "As much as I enjoy this idea I also enjoy the fact that in this world, bad design exists. I want to find a cure in most instances of this. In my work I desire to improve the quality of life for the interacting individual. I draw inspiration from daily encounters." Mott has a growing discontent for his surroundings and modern disposable living. "It's not just about creating, it's about developing an item that will sustain not because it was engineered to resist decomposition, but because that item contains evidence of patience, skill, and intent," he explains."

Although Mott and Hall share a workspace, they work independently of each other and have their own individual business names; Mott has Wolfe and Rabbit and Hall has RxMadera (prescription wood). Wolfe and Rabbit and RxMadera products are available online at Etsy and RxMadera will have a website operational very soon. Mott will be offering his products tonight at 515 Main Street for the 500 Block Party and later in the year on September 29 for the WNY Fiber Festival in Emery Park.

Neither of the artists have a specific audience that they are trying to cater to, just simply those who appreciate good, innovative design. "My wood eye ware is very custom and specialized. I take great pride when I say 100% hand made in the United States, Buffalo NY, "explains Mott, "I provide the epitome of Retro, a 21 century revision of fashion, function and form spanning four decades. A bold, confident and elegant statement for any individual proud to support hand crafted made right here in Buffalo New York."
Wood eye ware available with prescription lenses or as tinted sunglasses 
Hall's favorite medium to work is wood and he is often inspired by historic pieces. "When I'm creating pieces of furniture, I always investigate past designs. How can I improve them?" he asks, "What, if any, is a problem within the design? History is always present if reclaimed materials are used, as I see it. I recently made a custom countertop made of hemlock from a balloon style built house that was built in 1819.  Boards of this size and species today are almost unheard of, my estimation would make the age of that piece close to 300 years old. I milled the piece down, sawed it into smaller widths, added some details and glued the piece back together; that tree has been reborn."
Walking around their shop the duo have some really creative designs and it wouldn't take much to imagine some of the products like the wood eye ware to really take off. They both see the value in the east side, but recognize that it will still be quite some time before others catch on. "Space is abundant and cheap but the stigma that comes with even inviting people to the east side is often difficult for the unfamiliar to overcome," explained Hall, "I do believe Buffalonian's views of the east side will change, but only with time and exposure."
Be sure to check out their current products that are available online and support some great local artists. You can contact Nathaniel directly at Dawgnip99@yahoo or get in touch with Eric via wolfeandrabbit@gmail.com about their various offerings.

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