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Photographer Chris Mottalini's Buffalo stance

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A photograph of a Buffalo-area bus shelter from Chris Mottalini's series, "The Mistake By the Lake."

Chris Mottalini, a Brooklyn-based photographer who grew up in Buffalo, has been mounting a series of fascinating photography projects over the past few years. One of them, a particularly intriguing collection dubbed "The Mistake By the Lake," takes a look at school bus shelters built by hand across Western New York's rural landscape.

The images, of these slim, solitary and often creatively constructed structures, seem to speak of a different time. Here's what Mottalini says about the series: "Though the shelters are created for a specific need, over time that need diminishes and these curious examples of amateur architecture are left to blend into their surroundings.  They remain as reminders of ingenuity and past necessity."

He goes on to position the project as a counter-point to the larger narrative about Western New York, as a frozen tundra of dejection and lost hope: "The heart of this project is the documentation of the architectural products of human concern and emotion, with greater-Buffalo as the backdrop. I think these shelters serve to contradict the narrative of neglect that the mention of Buffalo sometimes invokes.  As a champion of my hometown, my goal was to depict a wholly unexpected and fascinating side of a great, but often maligned region."

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Mottalini's website, which includes a more recent series documenting the demolition of homes by the famed architect Paul Rudolph, is well worth checking out.

At the moment, there are no immediate plans for a local exhibition of Mottalini's work, but his bus shelter series seems to cry out for the atttention of a local gallery.

--Colin Dabkowski


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