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Photographer Chris Mottalini's Buffalo stance

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A photograph of a Buffalo-area bus shelter from Chris Mottalini's series, "The Mistake By the Lake."

Chris Mottalini, a Brooklyn-based photographer who grew up in Buffalo, has been mounting a series of fascinating photography projects over the past few years. One of them, a particularly intriguing collection dubbed "The Mistake By the Lake," takes a look at school bus shelters built by hand across Western New York's rural landscape.

The images, of these slim, solitary and often creatively constructed structures, seem to speak of a different time. Here's what Mottalini says about the series: "Though the shelters are created for a specific need, over time that need diminishes and these curious examples of amateur architecture are left to blend into their surroundings.  They remain as reminders of ingenuity and past necessity."

He goes on to position the project as a counter-point to the larger narrative about Western New York, as a frozen tundra of dejection and lost hope: "The heart of this project is the documentation of the architectural products of human concern and emotion, with greater-Buffalo as the backdrop. I think these shelters serve to contradict the narrative of neglect that the mention of Buffalo sometimes invokes.  As a champion of my hometown, my goal was to depict a wholly unexpected and fascinating side of a great, but often maligned region."

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Mottalini's website, which includes a more recent series documenting the demolition of homes by the famed architect Paul Rudolph, is well worth checking out.

At the moment, there are no immediate plans for a local exhibition of Mottalini's work, but his bus shelter series seems to cry out for the atttention of a local gallery.

--Colin Dabkowski

Da Vinci's machines to open at Museum of Science

"Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion," an interactive exhibition featuring the largest hands-on display of full-size machine replicas constructed according to da Vinci's famous codices, will be on display from June 4 through Aug. 28 in the Buffalo Museum of Science (1020 Humboldt Parkway).

There is an additional $2 charge to explore the exhibit (free for children under age 2) along with the museum's general admission of $8 adults, $7 seniors, $6 children, students and military.

The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily with extended hours on Fridays until 7 p.m. For more information, call 896-5200 or visit

UB Anderson Gallery snags new works

"H.K.," a 1980 painting by Charles Clough.

The University at Buffalo's Anderson Gallery, a gem of a space tucked into the residential neighborhood near the university's south campus, recently announced its acquisition of several hundred new works for its already significant collection of modern and contemporary art.

The largest chunk of the Anderson's recent acquisitions comes from a donation of more than 400 pieces by Charles Clough, one of the founders of Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center in the mid-'70s and a painter who has been attracting increased attention lately. These were donated by Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, the famed art collectors who have been distributing the collection to musuems around the country (including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Castellani Art Museum) in massive numbers over the past several years.

The Anderson Gallery also announced it has acquired a bust of the art critic Donald Kuspit by the Dutch artist Karl Appel, pictured below:

"Study for a Portrait of Donald Kuspit," a 1988 sculpture by Karl Appel.

Both works are now on view in the gallery. The gallery has also recently acquired a series of Tibetan Thankga paintings from the collection of Richard V. and Susan Lee as well as works by Arnold Mesches, Jill Clement, Harvey Breverman and the Ant Farm art collective.

--Colin Dabkowski


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Toronto artist completes his paintings at a Buffalo firing range


A portrait of Osama bin Laden by Toronto artist Viktor Mitic. Photo from

Toronto artist Viktor Mitic paints with bullets. According to a Toronto Sun story posted last Friday, the Serbian-born artist prepares his canvases in Toronto and then takes them to a Buffalo-area firing range to riddle them with bullet holes. The results, as in Mitic's portrait of Osama bin Laden above, have drawn plenty of attention. Subjects of Mitic's other target-practice portraits have included John Lennon, Ronald McDonald and Jesus.

--Colin Dabkowski

Additional seats for Taylor Swift to be released

Additional seats for Taylor Swift's June 21 concert in HSBC Arena will be released at 5 p.m. today (May 20). Tickets will only be available online at and by phone at (888) 223-6000. The HSBC Arena box office will  not be open.

Thursday Theater Roundup

It's Thursday, which means it's time again for the Thursday Theater Roundup, your guide to the best shows now running on Western New York's theater scene. And there are no shortage of worthy offerings this week:

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Tim Newell, Megan Callahan and Nathan Winkelstein in Jewish Repertory Theatre's production of "Lebensraum."

"Lebensraum," through May 29 in a Jewish Repertory Theatre production in Alleyway Theatre. From the review (coming tomorrow): "In [Saul Elkin's] direction of Israel Horovitz's 'Lebensraum,' a remarkable little piece of theater brought to monumental life by Elkin's Jewish Repertory Theatre, he gives us new reasons to find the craft of theater to be something we cannot ignore. Horovitz's play helps a great deal. His one-act fantasy is simple. It offers what is ostensibly a Holocaust play without the typical deterrents -- redundancy, narrowness -- that have come to plague the harrowing subject matter on stage and screen." --Ben Siegel

"Medea," through May 28 in the Alt Theatre. From the review (coming tomorrow): "There is no denying
that this is, in essence, a one-woman show. It sinks or swims with the mad woman at its center, and this "Medea" never misses a stroke. Zach Sarafin put together a clean, easy-to-navigate set, well-suited to Alt's intimate space, and in a tale heavy on monologue -- internal and otherwise -- [Director David] Lundy for the most part maintains a fluidity that energizes the classic style." --Melinda Miller

Continue reading "Thursday Theater Roundup" »

J. Tim Raymond sketches 'Shining City.'

In Buffalo's large and diverse art and theater scenes, there's not as much crossover as you might expect. For many reasons -- not the least of which is that most visual artists, curators, actors and directors lead busy lives and hold down multiple jobs that scarcely leave enough time to follow their own artistic pursuits -- folks on the theater scene aren't always up to speed on what's happening on the visual arts scene, and vice versa.

So it's always a treat when you see someone traversing that theater-art barrier. Someone like J. Tim Raymond, the local painter and writer, who has produced a series of sketches based on Vincent O'Neill and Chris Kelly's performances in the Irish Classical Theatre's production of Conor McPherson's play "Shining City." Here's one of Raymond's pieces, an ink and wash painting that gives a sense of the play's foreboding, urgent sensibility:


--Colin Dabkowski

Oickle book signings canceled

Due to health issues, Alvin Oickle, author of "Disaster on Lake Erie: The 1841 Wreck of Steamship Erie,"  has canceled his scheduled discussions and book signings for today (May 18) in the Book Nook (1170 Central Ave., Dunkirk) and for Thursday (May 19) in the Erie County Historical Society (25 Nottingham Court).

There are no current plans to reschedule.

Cuban poet Reina María Rodríguez opens E-Poetry Festival at UB

A bilingual poetry featuring leading Cuban poet Reina María Rodríguez -- the author of a dozen books of poetry and prose and two time winner of the Casa de las Americas Prize of Poetry, the UNEAC Prize, and the Julian del Casal Prize -- at 2:30 p.m. this afternoon at the University at Buffalo Poetry Collection, 420 Capen Hall on the UB North Campus, is among the opening day highlights of E-Poetry [ 2011 ]: An International Digital Language/Arts Festival that marks the 10 year anniversary of world’s first E-Poetry/Digital Arts Festival at UB in 2001. 

Two of  Rodríguez's collections, “Violet Island and Other Poems” (Green Integer, 2004) and “Time’s Arrest” (Factory School, 2005) have been translated into English by Kristin Dykstra, a UB Poetics Program Ph.D who is now Associate Professor of English at Illinois State University.

The official grand opening of the four day festival is at 4 p.m. this afternoon at the UB Center for the Arts.  A full evening of exhibits and performances is scheduled featuring e-poets, digital artists, and media makers from around the world.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday will feature primarily talks, panel discussions, screenings and e-poetry related presentations during the mornings and early afternoons, with performances and live demonstrations of e-poetics as an emergent literary and media arts form over the past decade following in the late afternoons and evenings.

Continue reading "Cuban poet Reina María Rodríguez opens E-Poetry Festival at UB" »

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