During his time as Buffalo’s most popular and among its most prolific public artists, Max Collins has left his mark on dozens of area buildings, amplifying his community-focused portraits and landscapes to fit towering brick walls or dirty planks of reclaimed wood. For his next project, the photo series “Reconstructing Main Street” opening Friday in the Western New York Book Arts Center (468 Washington St.), Collins has trained his lens on one rapidly changing section of the necrotic thoroughfare that bisects Buffalo like the Berlin Wall.
As the traffic-free section of street is retooled to introduce cars after decades of serving as a mostly deserted pedestrian mall that wouldn’t look out of place in a George Romero movie, a new wave of development is slowly sweeping the 500 and 600 blocks of Main Street. Collins’ grainy, black-and-white photographs document some of that change, which some have hailed as a much-needed reanimation of the historically busy streetscape and others have characterized as a missed opportunity to develop a truly walkable, mixed-use community.
As part of the exhibition, Collins will host a free, hands-on workshop from noon to 2 p.m. May 31 in which participants will get a look into his artistic process and pick up a few tricks of their own. For more information, call 348-1430 or visit www.wnybookarts.org.
– Colin Dabkowski