Kevin B. O'Callahan (1902-1977), Buffalo River, 1936; wood engraving, Overall: 1 13/16 x 4 in. (4.6 x 10.2 cm) Frame: 17 1/4 x 13 1/4 in. (43.8 x 33.7 cm); Gift of Vern Stein, 1991
Though this wood engraving is small, it represents something massive: grain elevators. Buffalo citizens and visitors to the city may have seen the Buffalo River and its famous grain elevators. Kevin O’Callahan gives us a scene that most will recognize. Imagine driving on the thruway, coming home from vacation; the grain elevators are a sign of being home. The clean lines, stark black and white contrast, and undulating reflections in the water provide movement within the print. O’Callahan was born in Buffalo and remained a lifelong resident of the city. He co-founded the Buffalo Print Club in 1931 and served as president until 1953.
Imagine three postage stamps together—that equals this small wood engraving even though it represents massive grain elevators. Kevin O’Callahan displays a scene you might know well. Have you ever been in a car on the thruway and smelled Cheerios™? Well that toasted oat aroma comes from the product stored in grain elevators like those in this print. Mr. O’Callahan could have experienced the same smell while growing up in Buffalo, New York. He provides us with a view of a Buffalo skyline. If you were given a piece of paper that small how would you portray Buffalo?
—Michelle A. Maroney, 2015