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Another improbable art find


A drawing reportedly by Pablo Picasso, part of a trove of 270 works by the Spanish artist stored in a garage by French electrician Pierre Le Guennec. (Image from

In October, City of Tonawanda resident Martin Kober attracted the eyes of the international art world when news came out that he owns what may be a painting by Michelangelo. The most repeated aspect of the story didn't have to do with the painting itself, but rather where it languished for a quarter century: collecting dust behind a couch in Kober's childhood home near Rochester.

Yesterday, news came of another unlikely discovery, this one by an electrician in France, the 71-year-old Pierre Le Guennec. (This according to the New York Observer, CNN and New York Magazine.) And the discovery seems even more flabbergasting: 271 paintings by Pablo Picasso, stored in a garage by the famed Spanish painter's former electrician. Le Guennec says the paintings were a gift from Picasso's second wife, Jacqueline Roque, but the caretakers of the late artist's estate aren't so sure. They've filed a suit claiming the works, reportedly made between 1900 and 1932, were stolen. No one, as yet, seems to be challenging the authenticity of the works.

The outcome of the case will be interesting to watch, as will critical appraisals of the pieces themselves, which will hopefully wind up on public view before long. However you look at it -- from Tonawanda to the French Riviera -- it's been a good year for art-world intrigue.

--Colin Dabkowski


New CD and vinyl releases this week

The Brian Jonestown Massacre, If I Love You (A Records)
Bryan Adams, Bare Bones (Decca U.S.)
Flo Rida, Only One Flo (WEA)
Glee Cast, Glee: The Music Volume 4 (Columbia)
N.E.R.D., Nothing: 2 LP vinyl edition (Interscope)
Ron Isley, Mr. I (Def Jam)
Simian Mobile Disco, Delicacies: 2 CD (Redeye)
Soulja Boy, The DeAndre Way (Interscope)
Black Eyed Peas, The Beginning (Interscope)
Various Artists, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse - 2 LP red vinyl edition (WEA)  
The White Stripes, The White Stripes: 180 Gram vinyl edition (WEA)
Tim McGraw, Number One Hits: 2 CD edition (WEA)
Steve Wynn & the Miracle 3, Northern Aggression (Yep Roc)  

Review Jeff Miers' live chat

News Pop Music Critic fielded questions on new releases, concerts and all things music.

Remembering David Pratt

Western New York lost one of the last of its old-guard painters on Sunday. David Pratt, a contemporary of Charles Burchfield and a prolific oil and watercolor painter who fused artmaking with a career in construction, died at the age of 92. (Read his obituary here.)

Pratt's work, which won him many regional prizes and has been exhibited widely at local galleries (including an important retrospective organized by Nancy Weekly in 1992), largely consisted of landscapes. His son, Michael Pratt, described his father as a "transitional" painter, who nearly always included representational elements in his paintings but also clearly felt the allure of abstraction as his career went on.

In a review of his 1992 retrospective at the Burchfield Art Center (now the Burchfield Penney), former News art critic Richard Huntington described his work this way:

The more one looks at a Pratt painting, the more the mysteries are compounded. Pratt has an incredibly delicate hold on the natural world. He seems to gently -- without any undue pushing or probing -- deny it its real and solid existence. That existence, Pratt seems to say, is the easy and dull way for the world. Better that things and shapes mingle with human thought and emotion.

Check out this slideshow of Pratt's work (with images kindly provided by Michael Pratt) to get a better idea of the late artist's unique approach to painting:

--Colin Dabkowski

Thanksgiving week New Music Releases

The 13th Floor Elevators, The Psychedelica Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators (Snapper)
21st Century Schizoid Band, Live in Japan (Gonzo)
Boston, Boston: 180 Gram Audiophile Vinyl Edition (Friday Music)
Bowie, Iggy & Lou, Sacred Triangle: 1971-73 (Sexy Intellectual)
Kate Bush, the Document (eOne)

Bruce Cockburn, Stealing Fire (True North)
Cream, Sunshine of Your Love: Live In Concert DVD (IMV Blueline)
The Cult, Love: Deluxe (Beggars Banquet)
Dio, The Legend: Live DVD (IMV Blueline)
Eric Johnson, Vol. 2: Live From Texas (New West)
Allen Ginsburg, Beat Poet: Figurine and CD set (Press Pop)
Jay-Z, The Hits Collection Vol. 1 (Def Jam)
Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Def Jam)
King Crimson, In the Wake of Poseidon 40th Anniversary Edition (Discipline)
King Crimson, Islands 40th Anniversary Edition (Discipline)
King’s X, Live In London (In2)
Yngwie Malmsteen, Relentless (Rising Force)
Bob Marley, the Reggaeton Mixes (Cleopatra)
Mike Patton, Mondo Cane LP and CD (Ipecac/Fontana)
My Chemical Romance, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (WEA)
Ne-Yo, Libra Scale (4AD)
Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine: The 2010 Remaster (UMD)
Orange Juice, Coals to Newcastle (Domino)
Ozric Tentacles, Strangeitude (Snapper)
Regina Spektor, Live In London CD & DVD (WEA)
John Scofield, New Morning: The Paris Concert (Inakustik)
Shinedown, The Sounds of Madness Deluxe Edition (WEA)
Smashing Pumpkins, The Solstice Bare (Rocket Science)
Sting, Live In Berlin CD/DVD Combo (Decca)
The Sword, Tears Of Fire (Kemado)
The Doors, Live In Vancouver 1970 (WEA)
The Who, Live at Leeds 4 CD deluxe edition (Geffen/UMD)
Tom Waits, The Early Years Vol. 2 Vinyl Edition (Manifesto)
Muddy Waters, They Called Me Muddy Waters/Live at Mr. Kelly’s (eOne)
Robert Wyatt, Cuckooland Reissue (Domino)
Robert Wyatt, Shleep Reissue (Domino)
Robert Wyatt, Theatre Royal Drury Lane Reissue (Domino)
Robert Wyatt, EPS Resissue (Domino)
XTC, Skylarking (Ape Records)


Canadian avant-garde poet Lisa Robertson in Buffalo Monday

 One of North America's leading literary innovators will visit Buffalo on Monday for an afternoon talk on a current sound art project she is engaged in and an evening reading from her work.  For over three decades, Canadian avant-garde poet Lisa Robertson has focused her adaptations and reconfigurations of  traditional and "found" narrative and lyric forms into a body of work that challenges and expands our understanding of language, gender, and difference.

In a rescheduling of a visit originally intended for this past February, Robertson is the guest of the University at Buffalo Poetics Program this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. at the Poetry Collection at 420 Capen Hall on UB's North Campus to deliver a talk about an ambient listening and sound recording project she is currently undertaking in Paris, making digital sound exposures at the sites of famed French photographer Eugène Atget's documentary photos of late 19th and early 20th century street life in the city.  Her talk entitled "Disquiet" speculates on the prosody of urban noise. 
At 8 p.m., the venue will shift downtown for a Poetics Program reading by Robertson at Hallwalls Cinema, 341 Delaware Avenue (near Tupper St.).  A longtime resident writer and scholar associated with Vancouver’s Kootenay School of Writing, Robertson--a Toronto native--has lived and taught in California over the past decade as Holloway poet-in-residence at the University of California-Berkeley, and, more recently, at the California College for the Arts in San Francisco. 
The author of 18 books of poetry, prose and criticism, she is perhaps best known as the author of The Weather (2001), a book she has described as the result of  “an intense yet eccentric research in the rhetorical structure of English meteorological description” incorporating such diverse elements as BBC shipping forecasts, her appropriation of meteorological science as a discourse of cultural indeterminacy and change, a nuanced reading of William Wordsworth's The Prelude, meditations on the role of sincerity and friendship in the construction of the self as a Romantic subject in literature, and a critique of personal identity as a axiom of English grammar.
Robertson's other notable books include Seven Walks from the Office for Soft Architecture (2003), a site specific (Vancouver) collection of essays, prose poems, art theory, and photography that redraws the boundaries of sensation, temporality, and personal and public space, Rousseau’s Boat (2004), a meditation on solitude and walking, and The Men: A Lyric Book (2006), a strong collection of short poems that explores the territory between the male poet's textual subjectivity and the lineage of lyric poetry and thought in the Western canon. Robertson's own exquisite lyric gifts often come into play in this volume that takes the literary equivalent of "The Male Gaze" and seeks to "defamiliarize" it, raising many questions about gender and the nature of language in the process.
Her most recent books include the eponymously titled  Lisa Robertson’s Magenta Soul Whip (Coach House Press, 2009) and R’s Boat (University of California Press, 2010), a continuation of the project of her earlier chapbook on Rousseau and the attempt to construct a kind of autobiographical writing outside of the conventions of the self-referential, "confessional" tradition.
--R.D. Pohl

Poet-critic Joshua Clover headlines Just Buffalo's BIG NIGHT!


Say poetry is understood as a specific mode of engaging the same set of problems that everything else means to engage. And the desire of poetry is not to represent the world but to change it and be changed by it; to be adequate to its time, of its time, part of the constellation. Say poetry is understood as being a way of grasping things that otherwise would escape, or grasping things in a way that understands them otherwise: a kind of counter-cognition.
                                                        --Joshua Clover and Juliana Spahr, "The 95¢ Skool,"
               from Poets on Teaching: A Sourcebook (University of Iowa Press)
California native Joshua Clover is one of a handful of top poet-critics on the contemporary scene adept at writing across disciplines and boundaries of professional discourse in his explorations of the interstices between poetics, popular culture, politics, economics, and critical theory in a variety of publications.  The University of California-Davis based professor is currently a Fellow at the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University, researching a book project on poetry and political economy.
Saturday, he will be the featured guest of this month's Just Buffalo BIG NIGHT celebration along with music by the electro-acoustic improvisational sound group Lulldozer, and an interactive installation by computer/media artist Timothy Scaffidi.
Clover is the author of two collections of poems--The Totality for Kids (University of California Press, 2006), and Madonna anno domini (LSU Press, 1997), which was poet Jorie Graham's pick to receive the 1996 Walt Whitman Award from the American Academy of Poets

Clover is also a widely published critic and journalist, a frequent contributor to The New York Times Book Review and The Nation magazine,  and is the poetry editor for the Village Voice Literary Supplement.  His book-length contribution to the Modern Classics series for the British Film Institute, The Matrix, was published in 2005. He is also the author of a book of cultural history and criticism 1989: Bob Dylan Didn't Have This to Sing About (University of California Press, 2009).

He is also a columnist for the publication Film Quarterly and serves on its Editorial Board.  Writing under the pseudonym "Jane Dark," Clover has been an occasional contributor of film and music reviews to The Village Voice.  Up until recently, he maintained a blog on music and popular culture called jane dark's sugarhigh!, which you can still visit at
The festivities begin at 8 the Western New York Book Arts Center, 468 Washington St. (at Mohawk St.), in Buffalo.  As with all BIG NIGHT events, there will food by gourmet chef and Blazevox Books publisher Geoffrey Gatza.  Admission is $5; free for members of Just Buffalo and its affiliate organizations.
--R.D. Pohl

The Theater Roundup: pre-Thanksgiving edition

Before the annual onslaught of holiday-flavored shows hit Western New York stages, plenty of non-Yuletide (or at least only quasi-Yuletide) fare is on view on local stages. Here are some highlights:

The cast of Buffalo United Artists' "The Temperamentals," running through Dec. 4.

"The Temperamentals," through Dec. 4 in the Buffalo United Artists Theatre. From the review: "Director Kelly’s cast gives a clinic in ensemble work. Christopher LaBanca as Harry is funny, persuasive and maddening — wild-eyed here, organized and logical there. Marc Sacco’s Rudy is a willing partner but cautious and grounded in the real world. LaBanca and Sacco are superb. They’re ably joined by Ryan Cupello, Adam Rath and Michael Seitz, all in multiple roles, and remarkable here in minimal and often clunky surroundings." --Ted Hadley

Irish Classica_001
Debbie Pappas and Brian Riggs star in "The Dead," at the Andrews Theatre through Dec. 5. 

"The Dead," through Dec. 4 in the Andrews Theatre, produced by the Irish Classical Theatre Company. From the review: "Attending the play in the intimate Irish Classical Theatre Co. theater-in-the-round is as near to being a guest at the party as the audience can get without being handed a glass of port... The major players are excellent. Debbie Pappas as Gretta Conroy is an elegant, long-necked beauty who can no longer conceal a tragic youthful passion. Sharon Strait, as Mrs. Malins, wrings her hands and agonizes over whether her bon vivant son, Freddy, played by Lou Colaiacovo, will arrive drunk, and Freddy does not disappoint. His comic timing is flawless, and she roils his remaining internal turmoil with frowns and sharp glances." --Anne Neville

PL Candid
The cast of "Present Laughter," a the Kavinoky Theatre through Dec. 4.

"Present Laughter," through Dec. 4 in the Kavinoky Theatre. From the review: "Yes, the life of an aging, wealthy matinee idol is almost too difficult for words. But fortunately for the audience at the Kavinoky Theatre, where a production of Noel Coward's frothy comedy 'Present Laughter' opened last Friday, Essendine finds plenty to say. And most of it is hilarious. David Lamb, reprising a role he's played twice before at the Kavinoky, eases back into Essendine's skin as effortlessly as his character slips into one of his expensive dressing gowns. Lamb, the Kavinoky's longtime artistic director, has a special talent for seeming genuinely perturbed and relentlessly upbeat at the same time." --Colin Dabkowski

Continue reading "The Theater Roundup: pre-Thanksgiving edition" »

Brian McKnight talks about his hometown in Gusto

He has that silky smooth R&B voice that has helped sell more than 20 million albums worldwide. Buffalo's own Brian McKnight returns home this weekend and will give back to the community he says helped make him the singer he is today by performing a concert that benefits the Ronald McDonald House on Sunday at the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts. Read an interview with McKnight by Pop Music Critic Jeff Miers in Friday's Gusto.

Also in Gusto: movie reviews of the real-life story of CIA operative Valerie Plame in "Fair Game," the Russell Crowe thriller "The Next Three Days" and the documentary "Cool It." Janice Okun gives us her take on the new restaurant Victor's and food writer Andrew Galarneau gets his fill at Shish Kabab Express.

Jeff Simon chatting now

News Arts Editor Jeff Simon is fielding questions on movies, TV, books and whatever else is on your mind.

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