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Alumni Open Allentown Art Gallery

Alumni Open Allentown Art Gallery

Posted: May 4, 2016

Two Buffalo State alumni have combined their talents and passions to open a new art gallery in Allentown, Paper Moon Gallery.

In early April, Laura Borneman, ’95, and Michael Pijanowski, ’93, opened the eclectic gallery space located at 497 Franklin Street.

“Our mission is to support local and national emerging and professional artists,” said Borneman, a former middle-school teacher who now teaches part time in the Fine Arts Department.  “We also plan to use the gallery’s basement for art classes for adults and children beginning in June.”

Paper Moon’s inaugural show featured Pijanowski’s dreamlike paintings, as well as evocative work by Barbara Buckman, Peter Fowler, Richard Rockford, and Jody Selin.

The gallery's name comes from the 1933 song “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” made famous by Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald.

“We were drawn to the celestial image and the lyrics caught our attention because they focus on making something real from something that is not,” ​said Pijanowski. “And that it what art does.”

Pijanowski and Borneman met as undergraduates in a Shakespeare course when they both focused on creative writing. Borneman said she soon realized she was more interested in painting than writing and ended up earning degrees in English and fine arts; Pijanowski earned his bachelor of arts in English.

After graduating, Borneman moved to New York City, later attended the Maryland Institute College of Arts, and worked in California, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, Pijanowski carved out a career as chef and owner of Buffalo restaurants including Bistro Europa, while also pursuing painting and writing projects. He sold Europa in 2010.

When Pijanowski and Borneman reconnected, they discovered they shared a common interest in contributing to the city’s vibrant visual arts scene. They knew they could combine Borneman’s art-world contacts with Pijanowski’s business acumen to launch a gallery.

“I got three offers to be involved in restaurant projects, but I wanted a business venture that wasn’t as stressful. And I wanted something I could be passionate about,” Pijanowski said. “I decided this would make me happy and fulfilled.”

Already, they have exhibits scheduled through summer 2017.

On Friday, May 6, Paper Moon will host an opening reception from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. for a solo exhibit of drawings by Richard Gubernick, Borneman’s former art professor. Gubernick is retired from teaching but continues to paint and exhibit throughout New York and several other states. The exhibit will run through the end of May.

“Richard’s intermediate painting class is what changed me from wanting to be a writer to an artist,” Borneman said. “And his encouragement kept me going.”

Paper Moon Gallery's hours are Thursday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. To learn more, call (716) 550-0777.

Inset: Drawing by Richard Gubernick.

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