We are a dynamic group of emerging artists, arts professionals and mentors, who help elevate the arts in the region.

We offer public critique sessions, workshops, dynamic events, job shadowing/mentoring, field trip opportunities, community art projects, parties, and more. We collaborate with other local organizations and individuals working toward similar ends.

Explore our site to learn more!

Upcoming Events

City of Night


The fourth annual CITY of NIGHT Arts festival is coming to the Old First Ward in the heart of Buffalo, New York.

Donations accepted at the gate, all are welcome.

CITY of NIGHT is a one-night multi-disciplinary arts event presented by Emerging Leaders in the Arts Buffalo . With themes of Art, History, Culture and Sustainability, CITY of NIGHT ignites a connection between people and the places around them. Through the event, ELAB provides an opportunity to experience a significant place visitors might not otherwise explore in a spectacularly unique way. Our goal is to provide a lasting experience that will effect each visitor’s interaction with their community, and change their perspective about what is possible. It features art installations and projections in/outside industrial warehouses, a “train” of art, and even a church! We feature a variety of live performances: sound art, theater, and dance, roving musicians, dramatic interactive experiences, short film screenings, storytelling, history tours and signs, food trucks, beer and wine tent, bike valet, and myriad ways to interact creatively with Buffalo’s Old First Ward neighborhood. ELAB will also leave behind a mural, representing the history and people of the Old First Ward.

CITY of NIGHT signifies the darkness that Buffalo and other similar places have experienced in the late 20th century, and where we’re going, not only here but regionally, nationally, and internationally. Buffalo is evolving rapidly, awakening from its slumber, but some shadows remain. We seek to investigate the CITY of NIGHT and its symbolic or literal meanings. We are creative place-makers, rejuvenating the forgotten and threatened with the power of art. What will we do with the dawn?


VIP Event: Friday, July 17, 7-11pm
City of Night: Saturday July 18, 6pm-midnight


Republic Street from Louisiana to Hamburg Streets
Old First Ward Buffalo, New York



Artistic Development

Our evolving line-up of workshops are the heart of our artistic development as ELAB members & experts share knowledge, skills, talent and creativity with each other.

Examples include artistic legal rights, setting up artist’s websites/blogs, papermaking, applying for grants, ceramics, and other medium-based technique workshops.

Stay tuned at our events page for upcoming workshops.


Special Projects

Grant-Amherst Mural

Conceptualized by Lead Artist Marissa Lehner and ELAB founding and former President, Marcus L. Wise, the mural at the corner of Grant and Amherst Street, converted a blighted lot into a celebrated community work of art.

With the aid of ELAB’s members along with members of the Black Rock community, the painting process was done to 99% of completion over the summer of 2010. Through the Community Leaf Initiative, leaves, cut from Cypress wood by Marissa with the help of Rob Niemec from Niemec Builder Supply were decorated by community members and added to the top of the tree in the mural, to become a long lasting representation of their involvement in this community work of art.

Special Thanks to our sponsors: the Grant Amherst Business Association, Councilmember Joseph Golombek, Niemec Builder Supply, Sam Hoyt, and 464 Gallery.

Grant-Amherst Mural

Emerging Leaders in the Arts Buffalo (ELAB)


Tara B. Sasiadek • President

Painter, sculptor, and educator. Interactive Art Coordinator at CITY of NIGHT. Works at Buffalo Academy of science, member of Buffalo society of Artists, collector of acronyms with B in them.
Fun Fact: There’s nothing she won’t put in a jar.


Dana Saylor • Vice President

Artist, historian and activist. Coordinator for CITY of NIGHT. Affiliations: Painting for Preservation,
Buffalo’s Young Preservationists, Nat’l Trust for Historic Preservation.
Fun Fact: Obsessed with all things pre-1900.


Candice Pack • Treasurer

Candice Pack, a New Mexico born painter, is known mostly for her fluid abstractions. Her work is devoted to exploring the limits, aesthetics, and possibilities of paint, medium, and form.
Fun Fact: She was attacked by a wild cat as a baby and won!


Beth Okonczak • Secretary

Painter and parent. Involved with many ELAB activities and events. Affiliations: Arts Enrichment Program of Buffalo, Grant-Amherst Business Association,
New York State and National Art Education Associations, National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Fun Fact: She collects medical waste for art.



Marcus L. Wise • Founding President

Steering Committee Chair, Photographer and Owner of 464 and Glow Galleries. Member of Leadership Buffalo, Class of 2014 and the Oishei 20.

Fun fact: is a talented cat-herder


Marissa Lehner • Community Art Chair

Sculptor, installation artist, graduate student & Community Art Projects Director for ELAB. Affiliations: Buffalo Society of Artists, Grant/Amherst Business Assoc.
Fun Fact:
Is investigating living walls.


Kisha Patterson-Tanski • Membership Chair

Realtor, artist and mom, Kisha dove into ELAB with gusto when helping plan our 2013 Creative Conversation: Salon D’Ici.

Fun Fact: She used to live in a funky artist loft downtown, known for art shows and parties.


Leslie Fineberg • Multi-Disciplinary Arts

American Tribal Style bellydancer and committee member of Buffalo Infringement Fest.

Fun Fact: She plans the Vintage Vaudeville Cabaret.


Sabrina Smith • PR & Social Media Chair

Digital activist, past lawyer and arts & design enthusiast.


William Altreuter • Legal

Lawyer and writer, arts activist and tilter of windmills. Past President of Squeaky Wheel/Buffalo Media Resources.
Fun Fact: Wears a cobra snake for a necktie.



Contact ELAB

Share your feedback. We would love to hear from you!



I am...