Niagara Gazette —
Gessner said that Slawinski was a Polish artist who was fascinated by frescos, an Italian technique of mural painting on fresh plaster. He eventually moved to the Buffalo area and then to Niagara Falls at the invitation of Mayor E. Dent Lackey, Gessner said.
By then Slawinski was painting in sgraffito, a style of painting on fresh cement. But his technique was unique in that he layered the colors by pouring each layer of a single color of cement over the gray cement, and then carved his images in the still wet but hardening canvas.
From his depiction of Commodore Perry at Black Rock at West Hertel Academy to his Scenes from the Life of the Blessed Virgin at Assumption Church in Buffalo, to his Peace Mural at Our Lady of Fatima Shrine, Slawinski’s work is noticeable for its vivid imagery and simplicity.
“He wanted to create art that people understood,” Gessner said. “There’s no great mystery to his art. You see what you need to see.”
The artist, who died in 1983, has been compared to Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, noted Gessner.
And, given the rapidity in which cement hardens, the artist was obsessed with the need for speed in completing every piece.
“I know someone who was there with him when he was making (the Admiral Perry mural). He had sleeping bags beneath the mural and when he was too tired to work he would sleep right there.”
The professor, who is 82, has been committed to gathering and protecting the artist’s work since he was president of the Polish Arts Club of Buffalo in the early 1980s when someone asked him to arrange a presentation about Slawinski.
Shortly thereafter, he was leading efforts to raise money for a complicated move of a heavy Slawinski work from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Graycliff Estate in Derby to the exterior of Butler Library at Buffalo State College. Currently, he wants to find a way to restore and relocate the Maid of the Mist. He anticipates the project would cost about $40,000.