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Jeremy Twiss, The Tabernacle

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Visiting Information

The location is the southwest corner of Grant Street and Lafayette Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14123



About the Artist/Site

Jeremy Twiss grew up in the western New York state cities of Lackawanna and West Seneca in a “fundamentalist Christian” household. After high school, he briefly studied philosophy at the University of South Florida, then transferred to the University of Buffalo, but soon dropped out due to lack of funds. Desperately looking for a job, he was hired as a short-order cook for the Sweetness7 Café on Grant Street on the west side of Buffalo, despite the fact that he had little experience and a general antipathy toward working with others. He needed this job, but was becoming more and more stressed out by the active business, so the owner, Prish Moran, suggested that he consider helping her out in a different way, by painting murals on the interior of a building that she had recently purchased adjacent to the café. Twiss had no training as an artist and no sense of self-confidence that he could, indeed, paint.

But he drove himself to try; he had been interested in art in middle school, but although he had liked to draw, he had never pursued it formally in any way. The building, built in 1922 as a house of worship for an evangelical church, played not only into the biblical narratives Twiss had been taught as a child, but drew out his interest in the works of philosophers such as Spinoza, Nietzsche, and Kant. As he began working, he realized that art could also be a way to explore the larger existential questions that he had enjoyed grappling with.

He spent a year working in the unheated/non-air conditioned building, craning his neck while working on rickety scaffolding, creating large-scale murals for the walls and ceilings free-hand, mixing styles and motifs as inspiration hit him. Some sections draw on well-known paintings, such as those by Michelangelo for the Sistine Chapel, while others feature such varying imagery as penguins, a sumo wrestler, and surreal landscapes. Figures from popular culture, history, and legend – from Star Wars characters to Julius Caesar and Jesus Christ – also served as inspiration, as did motifs drawn from Japanese calligraphy, Egyptian hieroglyphics, and the paintings of Van Gogh. Urban graffiti, Tibetan meditative symbols, and occasional narrative phrases punctuate the colorful surfaces.

The space is set to open in April 2018 as a bar and restaurant, and the public will be welcomed.

~Jo Farb Hernández

 



Map and site information

Lafayette Avenue
Buffalo, New York, United States
Latitude/Longitude: 42.920164 / -78.890411

Visiting Information

The location is the southwest corner of Grant Street and Lafayette Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14123



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