Best small art galleries in Buffalo
Intimate settings and tiny spaces throughout the Queen City
The Buffalo art scene is no joke. Galleries like the Albright-Knox and Burchfield-Penney host some of the best international and national artists around.
But there are smaller galleries in the city that are just as noteworthy as their large-scale counterparts. If you’re looking for something to do as the weather gets colder, bring a few friends downtown and browse one of these more intimate venues.
91 Allen St.
El Museo has been a staple in Allentown for 20 years, located in the hippest hub of Buffalo.
The gallery is operated by retiring executive director Dr. Craig Centrie and celebrates the work of “underserved artists” in the city. The gallery came from the efforts of Latino artists at UB who formed the Latino Artists Collective in 1977.
El Museo continues to bolster art from Buffalo natives nearly every month or two. This year, the gallery will host its annual “Día de los Muertos,” or Day of the Dead, celebration, complete with altars. The gallery takes submissions through Oct. 21 and the space will be on view starting Nov. 1.
El Museo does not charge admission, so if you’re looking for a meaningful space and are in the neighborhood, make sure to stop in.
The Benjaman Gallery
419 Elmwood Ave.
The Benjaman Gallery has art nestled in every corner of this yellow, castle-like house on Elmwood.
The gallery, which opened in 1970, boasts a vast selection of works ranging from surrealism and sculptures to prints and objets d'art (small artistic pieces). The gallery has featured regional artists as well as those of prominence, such as Peter Max, Romero Britto and Philippe Halsman.
The gallery hosts a string of exhibits on top of its over-45 year residency. On Oct. 13, the work of Anthony Leone will be featured in “Grape Farm.” The exhibit is the first detailing of the artist’s work in Buffalo which “tilts at the windmills of truth, beauty, darkness, and social connectivity,” according to the gallery.
If you’re looking for diversity in your viewing, don’t miss out on the Benjaman Gallery, a short walk from Utica station on the Metro.
47 Allen St.
Indigo is a minimized and impressive space, not far away from El Museo.
Indigo has been host to over 100 local artists in a residence that formerly housed a salon. This past month, the gallery opened an exhibit “Co Modify” featuring Mizin Shin and J. Eric Simpson. The pair’s sketch-oriented and crop circle heavy pieces were also matched with creative print tees, all of which are on display at Indigo.
The gallery will host an opening for the recent work on Friday of Mark Lavatelli. The artist’s tree-centric art has previously been featured in the Burchfield-Penney’s “Trees Interpreted” alongside the work of Charles Burchfield.
Lavatelli will be having an artist talk on Oct. 14 at Indigo and the gallery is open to the public from Monday through Friday.
1239 Niagara St.
Sugar City is a delightful space on Niagara Street, housed in a wood-paneled exterior since 2015.
Volunteers run this multi-purpose venue that also hosts music shows.
The gallery is open every Friday from 5:30 to 7:30pm. It is free and accompanies the variety of pop and punk events at the venue.
On Friday, Sugar City opens their millennial flavored exhibit. “Folks I Know” features photos from local Instagram users like Kevin Thurston, Erica Eichelkraut Zilbauerand and Ben Siegel. The exhibit runs until Oct. 22 before the venue’s zine fair, in collaboration with Gutter Pop Comics, on Nov. 4.
Anna Kaplan Contemporary
1250 Niagara St.
Contemporary art shines in this space, located in Buffalo’s West Side.
Anna Kaplan Contemporary, formerly BT&C (Body of Trade and Commerce Gallery), recently featured the works of Amanda Besl - no stranger to the gallery. Besl’s collection of paintings were the first to be featured in the re-named and re-designed venue this fall.
Besl’s exhibit wraps up on Saturday, but eager art viewers can see more of what the gallery offers on Oct. 12. Pam Glick’s new exhibit “Slowly I Turn Opening” be featured in the space through Nov. 11. The artist has been featured in the space before, also having her work among other artists’ like George Condo and Jean Michel Basquiat.
The gallery is a bit of a trek from UB, but considering the constant turnaround of new exhibits, it’s well worth the travel.
Benjamin Blanchet is the senior arts editor and can be reached at email@example.com.