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The Woodstock Book to End Them All......

OK, so maybe 30,000 would be there. A pretty cool crowd.

 That's what Arlo Guthrie first thought when he was asked to be a part of the Woodstock Festival having its 40th anniversary this weekend.
20,000 was what Graham Nash guessed when the idea of Crosby, Stills, and Nash at the festival was first floated. Then, when all the buzz started, he raised his guess to a whomping, stomping 75,000.

History's 400,000 was "Holy S---" territory, not to mention the half a million that many still insist were inside that natural grass amphitheater on Max Yasgur's farm in Bethel, N. Y. It was inconceivable. Leslie West now says he almost fell out of the helicopter bringing him in to perform when he first saw the crowd.

All of those morsels of info are from the Woodstock Commemorative to End All Woodstock Commemoratives--a two volume limited edition box set published by Genesis Publications at a cool 395 pounds sterling across the pond (in other words, almost $660 in good old Yankee dollars.) It won't give you the music that Rhino's fuller six disc set "Woodstock--40 Years On: Back to Yasgur's Farm" but for lavish, "get a look at this!" presence, little is likely to match "The Woodstock Experience." It weighs eight and a half pounds, comes in its own burlap sack and they're only making 1,000 of them available on the web from publisher.
Volume 1 is 176 pages of photos and oral histories. That's where you'll learn, for instance, that Richie Havens "was supposed to be fifth" but wound up being the festival's very first act because "I had the least number of instruments." (I was dictating my first story about the festival to this newspaper, as its on site reporter, when Richie was on.)

Arlo Guthrie now tells us that when he went on, he'd been one of those seriously engaged in polishing off all of 147 cases of champagne that the Hog Farm had thought they'd saved for a post-festival celebration. They were gone before the first night was over. Arlo now says he was told he had to perform when he wasn't even sure he could walk.

Creedence Clearwater Revival was so stoned when they performed that we now learn John Fogerty chewed the band out for ruining their careers (they didn't. They were good.)

Sly Stone was alone in insisting he and the Family Stone get paid first. They then went out and made pop music history (David Sanborn now: "Sly and the Family Stone was some of the best s--- ever.")

The whole book goes like that. Volume 2 is full of the photographs of Dan Garson, a 17-year old engaged  by promoter Michael Lang to photograph the entire festival. You also get a simulated ticket to the event (utterly useless on the day, of course) and Michael Lang's hand-drawn site map reproduced in facsimile, among other simulated souvenirs.

All of which begs the question "just how much worship of Woodstock ought the world to be able to stand, at this stage?" But then again, here's another question: shouldn't the most excessive pop cultural event in American history have a published commemoration that's in the running for the most
excessive most of us have ever seen?

I suppose the true Woodstock spirit would be to answer "yes" to that question. Me? I'm not so sure.

--Jeff Simon

Vienna waits for you

Atlas Here is good news: It looks as if the Friends of Vienna is not history after all.

In early July, The Buffalo News reported that the longtime concert series would end if a new organizer were not found. The concerts, begun by singer Edith Horowitz, a refugee from Nazi Germany, were most recently administered by Paul Guenther. Guenther, however, was retiring as president, and no one was on hand to succeed him.

Today, The News just received word from Guenther that because of The News' coverage, volunteers had come forward. "We have settled on Mary Kay Atlas, a music teacher in the Buffalo Public Schools," he wrote. "She has already appointed a very talented board and selected a schedule of four programs for the coming season."

That is cause for rejoicing! The Friends of Vienna concerts, traditionally held on Sunday afternoons, provided a rare venue for chamber music players from Buffalo and beyond. It is one of those gems that make Buffalo what it is.

Above is a picture of Mary Kay Atlas located in The News' files. The picture dates from last winter and it certainly looks as if nothing can stop her!

She looks like the perfect person to move Edith Horowitz' legacy forward.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman

'Guernica' in 3D


In this animation by Lena Gieseke, Picasso's "Guernica" comes alive in 3D. [Via Tyler Green]

--Colin Dabkowski

Nir Hod on 'Wall Rockets'


Above, listen to artist Nir Hod talk about his piece "The Night You Left," his contribution to the "Wall Rockets" exhibition at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

--Colin Dabkowski

Hallwalls turns 35 in style


"Windshield (Kristin's Volvo") by A.J. Fries sold for $2,900 at the Hallwalls 35th Anniversary Auction on Thursday night at Babeville.

On its way down the economic slip-'n-slide of the last half-century, Buffalo has maintained a shockingly high level of creative output. But for all the sustained variety and quality of its artistic offerings, from the traditional to the avant garde, the city has never had a particularly strong community of collectors.

Supply has been outpacing demand for some time, so that talented artists who might otherwise have been perfectly content to stay in the area have decamped to the greener pastures of Chicago or Los Angeles or New York City in hopes of finding success. Some do, and most don't, and that's just the way things are. Nothing new about it.

But looking out over the unpretentious affair that was the Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center's 35th Anniversary Auction on Thursday night at Babeville, you could sense, for perhaps the first time in years, that local interest and appreciation for contemporary art was at least marginally on the rise.

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Amazon's Orwellian takeback has readers kindling

Imagine waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of footsteps in your study. You lie awake for a moment, thinking it's a pet or family member, a car door slamming outside, or commotion from another apartment. But no, the sound persists. Now you hear shelves creaking, the dull thud of a book hitting the floor. 
You rise up out of bed unsteadily and creep out into the darkness, your heart pounding as you edge cautiously down an unlit hallway. At the threshold to the study, you reach in and flick on the light switch. There with a flashlight in his hand rifling through your bookshelves is the proprietor of your favorite independent bookstore.
"Hi," he says matter-of-factly, "Sorry for the inconvenience." You notice your copies of George Orwell's Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four under his arm. "There seem to be some copyright issues with these. We thought this was the best way to handle it. Don't worry, we'll credit your account." With that, he brushes by you and out of your apartment, using the key you never knew he had. 
A nightmarish scenario?  Well, perhaps so with respect to your local bookseller.  But the digital equivalent of this "breaking and entering" process occurred just three weeks ago on the World Wide Web, when Amazon decided to send thousands of electronic copies of Orwell's Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four that had been downloaded onto its Kindle portable electronic reading devices from its Kindle E-Book Store down the proverbial "memory hole" referred to Orwell's own 1949 dystopian classic. In the early morning hours of July 16, the giant Internet retailer deleted all copies of the two Orwell novels from Kindles in the United States onto which they had been downloaded using the remote wireless technology (called "Whispernet") built into every unit.

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Charles Clough on Hallwalls

Hallwalls celebrates its 35th anniversary with a high-profile auction on Thursday at Babeville. In case you missed it, Hallwalls founding artist Charles Clough wrote a sales pitch for the auction that appears in the "My View" section of The News today. An excerpt:

Even after the economic meltdown, recent auctions have shown that art holds its value. Now, as the old paradigms are being realigned, it is a good time to assert Buffalo’s cultural ascendancy by bidding up the prices at the Hallwalls Benefit Auction. Too often these events become missed opportunities to get attention for Buffalo, Hallwalls and its artists by establishing headline prices. If you have the means, both acquire a piece of history and make history by establishing strong prices for the works being auctioned. Those with a deep concern for the future of the region will realize that what has developed over the past 35 years is a huge and bankable story that has and will continue to create the character of the place.

--Colin Dabkowski

Charles Gwathmey, Burchfield Penney architect, dies at 71

The New York Times reports this morning that Charles Gwathmey, the renowned modernist architect who designed Buffalo's Burchfield Penney Art Center, has died Monday from esophageal cancer at age 71.

Gwathmey, who founded the legendary firm Gwathmey, Siegel and Associates with his longtime partner Robert Siegel, has been responsible for some of the more high-profile architectural projects in the United States, from an addition to Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum in New York City, to an update of Paul Rudolph's art and architecture building at Yale University. A defender of Le Corbusier-influenced modernism, Gwathmey's approach has always been to create gleaming sculptural objects with meticulously clean lines and a sort of unembellished simplicity.

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'First Fridays' approaches

Gallery Crawl FEAgallerycra 

Patrons check out Indigo Art on Allen Street. Photo by Britney McIntosh / The Buffalo News.

Back when my story on the growing Allentown gallery disctrict came out, the constituent organizations hadn't quite finished planning their next neighborhood-promoting "First Fridays" event. But as the first Friday of August approaches, more art spaces across Allentown have nailed down shows. They'll open their doors to art-seekers from around the region from approximately 5 to 9 p.m on Aug. 7.

See a full list after the jump.

--Colin Dabkowski

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