It was the late summer of 1973. I was a freshman in my first week at the University at Buffalo. Early one evening, I was wandering around the old Main St. campus (the current North Campus was then a construction site) in search of some representative sample of what college life was supposed to be all about.
Quite by chance, I found myself on the second floor of the old student union (then called Norton Union) where in one conference room, a crowd of some size was listening to a venerable British poet I later learned was Basil Bunting. It was the first poetry reading I ever witnessed. I slipped into the room and sat mesmerized.
Bunting had just published his modernist masterpiece Briggflatts in 1966 and was then widely though to be the greatest living British poet. He read his work so emphatically as to allay any doubt. About 40 minutes into the reading there was loud click in the room that startled me and evidently Bunting as well. A bearded gentleman arose and nonchalantly sauntered up to a cassette recorder on a table next to the podium, flipped the tape over and the reading resumed.
Looks like spring is the season for new arts and cultural Web sites in Buffalo. After the Buffalo Museum of Science launched its slick new site earlier this week, the University at Buffalo Art Galleries becomes the latest arts organization to give itself an interwebs makeover. And if any address was in desperate need of some tweaking, it was most definitely the UB Art Galleries site, which until this week looked like something out of the CompuServe era of HTML coding.
The new site, all Flash-heavy and anchored by a top banner of rotating art, is fairly simple to navigate and provides plenty of eye candy along the way. The UB spaces (both the Anderson Gallery and the main gallery in UB's Center for the Arts) are responsible for some of the most adventurous and well-curated visual exhibitions and programming in the region, so it's heartening to see their Web presence finally living up to their artistic offerings. Check them out (and, if you're so inclined, also check out the fascinating exhibitions by Saya Woolfalk and Ani Hoover in the main UB Art Gallery).
Now all we need is for the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, whose site is serviceable but somewhat clunky and bare-bones (there is, for instance, no way to search through the collection), to follow suit. UPDATE: It turns out there is a way to search through the collection, which is buried on the lower right-hand side of the page in a pull-down menu. Thanks to commenter Katherine Umhauer for pointing that out:
Today I beheld a startling sight. It was a big box of brand-new vinyl LPs, from EMI. Sent here to The Buffalo News' newsroom! For review!
The records were by guitarist Ben Harper and they were for Pop Music Critic Jeff Miers, not for me. But still. I have been reading about the resurgence of vinyl -- Miers has written about it himself, on several occasions. I had not, however, seen proof of it with my own eyes. Now I see it. Now that I have seen this box of records for myself, I believe!
I am a vinyl listener, and all my friends know it, to the extent that it's not unusual for people to abandon their record collections on my doorstep. "It's Not Unusual." That is even on a Tom Jones LP that I have.
Poet and novelist Andrei Codrescu, NPR's only commentator with a Transylvanian accent, spoke to an emerging consensus of thought in the arts with his Wednesday feature on "All Things Considered," Say It Loud: I'm Hybrid And I'm Proud : NPR:
At the beginning of the 20th century, artists started making hybrids, and they haven't stopped since. Collage mixed paint and newspapers, assemblage assembled diverse materials, sculptors combined steel and foam, soft and hard, rock and water. What artists did was to rid us of the pernicious notions of "purity" circulated for centuries by overanesthetized and frustrated ideologues. Artists made obvious what everyone knows: There isn't a single human being or any living thing that isn't a combination of things.
Invited guests got their first look at the Darwin Martin House Complex visitors center Thursday, and found that the best part was the sweeping view of Frank Lloyd Wright's interconnected buildings through the floor-to-ceiling glass wall.
Seeing the entire layout from this new angle was breathtaking, Ami Greatbatch said, worth every penny of the $2.5 million her family contributed to the $5 million Eleanor and Wilson Greatbatch Pavilion, named for her father-in-law and mother-in-law.
It's a view paying visitors will enjoy starting Wednesday, when the pavilion opens to the public.
The pavilion completes "two centuries of design excellence" at the site, bringing together "the best of our past with the best of our future," Mary F. Roberts, Martin House Restoration Corp. executive director, said at Thursday's unveiling.
The $50 million revival and expansion of the century-old complex is about 75 percent complete, leaving interior restoration of the Martin House and landscaping of the complex's grounds as the major remaining projects, said John N. Walsh III, president of the restoration board.
Tours of the pavilion and restored buildings will be available by reservation at 856-3858.Do you plan to see for yourself what the project is is about?
A promo shot from the original tour of "Jersey Boys," which comes to Shea's Performing Arts Center next April.
A bit earlier than usual, Shea's Performing Arts Center has announced its 2009-10 season of (mostly) Broadway musicals. Read the story here. And to help get you familiarized with the shows on Shea's slate, we've compiled an assortment of Youtube clips (officially sanctioned and otherwise) that provide a taste of what the season has in store.
"Chicago" (Sept. 22 to 27)
"All That Jazz," from the 51st Annual Tony Awards in 1997, performed by Bebe Neuwirth:
Uncrowned Queens: Voices of African-American Women, the oral history project turned Buffalo public station WNED-AM 970 produced radio series, will be honored with a 2009 Gracie Award by the American Women in Radio & Television (AWRT), the station announced last week. The series will be honored as “Outstanding Documentary - Mid-Length Format” in the “Public” market category. The award will be presented June 4 during a luncheon at the Tavern on the Green in New York City.
The 13-part series highlighting the accomplishments and viewpoints of exceptional African American women in the Buffalo area--including many in the arts community--premiered last October 31 and has now aired in its entirety. It continues to be broadcast in rotation on Fridays at 1 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m on WNED-AM. A half hour edition of the program targeted to reach an audience that does not listen regularly to public radio airs on commercial station WBLK 93.7 FM on Sundays at 8:30 a.m.
Playwright, actor, and founder of Buffalo's Ujima Theater Company Lorna C. Hill produced the series and was its on-air narrative voice, with Emmy Award-winning actress and The Cosby Show co-star Phylicia Rashad introducing each hour long program. WNED's Stratton Rawson and Sonja D. Williams, Chair of the Department of Radio, Television, and Film at Howard University were its Executive Producers. Dr. Peggy Brooks-Bertram, Ph.D. and Dr. Barbara A. Seals Nevergold, Ph.D., founders of the University at Buffalo's Uncrowned Queens Institute served as Consulting Producers. The project was funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with support from BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York and Rich Products.
Since 1975, the Gracie Awards have recognized exemplary media programming created for women, by women and about women, as well as individual accomplishments in the broadcast industry. The awards program also celebrates the American Women in Radio and Television's goal of realistic and multifaceted portrayals of women in media. For more information about the Gracie Awards, visit thegracies.org.
Every year, Squeaky Wheel Media Arts Center, picks four promising local video artists , throws them a little cash and free access to its cutting-edge video equipment and sends them forth to produce art. On Saturday at 8, the fruits of the chosen artists' labors will be screened at the center in its annual Local Artist Access Residence Screening.
The artists in the screening span a variety of media and disciplines, from a hand-processed 8mm film by Aimee Buyea and animation by Tom Holt to a straight-ahead narrative video by Christine Davis and an innovative robotic/video installation by Elizabeth Knipe.
For more info, check in at the Squeaky Wheel Web site, or read after the jump for Squeaky's description of the works.
It was fun to talk the other day with Christopher O'Riley, above. He is the witty and energetic host of "From the Top," the national radio show conducting a taping Sunday with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. The interview with O'Riley is on the cover of today's Life and Arts section. You can read it here.
O'Riley is in his 50s now but he still is a youthful, light-hearted presence. One of the things he does is adapt pop music to classical piano. It is a little New Age-y for me, but you be the judge. Here is O'Riley playing Elliott Smith's "Let's Get Lost."
Whatever your opinion of O'Riley's pop performances, it certainly helps welcome kids to classical music by reminding them that it is not worlds away from whatever it is they are used to listening to. Everyone should keep that in mind. It is the truth!
O'Riley checks in intermittently at a blog I found here. He includes comments on his concerts and also music you can download. At the moment you get to see his marked-up version of a Bach invention, with his fingerings and everything. It's funny, some pianists mark up their scores hardly at all. O'Riley, in contrast, loves that pencil.
The wild and woolly "From the Top" Web site carries a "From the Top" blog, called "From the Top Green Room." You can read about the kids who have been involved with the show, and contribute your own comments. Check it out at http://greenroom.fromthetop.org./
The blog also chronicles the visits "From the Top" performers make to schools and other venues when they are in town taping a performance. William Hagen, the teen-age Utah violinist who will be appearing on Sunday's taping, is visiting Union East Elementary in Cheektowaga the next morning. He will be talking to kids there about his love for music.
Love for music is something you cannot ever hear too much about.