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A benefit for Sugar City's Aimee Buyea

Artsbeat features Sugar City Cantillon 5
Aimee Buyea sits on the steps of Sugar City, the alternative arts center she founded in 2009, shortly after its opening. Photo by Sharon Cantillon / The Buffalo News.

Almost a month ago, Sugar City co-founder Aimee Buyea suffered serious injuries after being struck by a vehicle while riding her bike. She's now on the mend, and to help her along, her friends and supporters are throwing Buyea a benefit at the arts venue she helped to found some two years ago. The benefit gets started at 4 p.m. Saturday and runs through 10 p.m., after which it'll move down the street to Nietzsche's.

The Sugar City portion of the evening, according to a release, features "a dinner prepared by a roster of Sugar City's resident chefs, a Chinese auction featuring contributions from many local artists and businesses, live music by Al Larsen, The Mordaunt Sisters, and The ________ Hotlights, a reading by Matthew Baker Thompson, and a film screening curated by Liz Flyntz."

Afterwards, at Nietzsche's, supporters of Buyea can drink and dance to the beats of DJs ABCDJ, Frankie Rainbows and MJB Corporation. Admission is a cool $10, which goes to help Buyea pay her bills while she's laid up.

Having met Aimee on a number of ocassions and interviewed her for these pages, I can tell you that she has been one of the leading forces in the latest evolution of Buffalo's vibrant alternative arts scene.

"The landscape of the Buffalo art scene would look very different today without Aimee's years of hard work and devotion," the release reads.

I couldn't agree more.

--Colin Dabkowski

'Having a Coke with You'

Yesterday, in honor of Frank O'Hara's birthday, Frieze Magazine tweeted a video of the late poet reading his beloved poem "Having a Coke with You." Here it is:

--Colin Dabkowski


There  are a lot of unusual things about  Ed Gass-Donnelly's "Small Town Murder Songs" which begins a week-long run at the Screening Room on Friday.

You have, for one thing, never seen Peter Stormare like this, despite how the Coen Brothers' apparent joy in making him sinister and more than a little dumb. In Gass-Donnelly's film he plays a small-town cop whose ex (Jill Hennessy) has taken up with the skeeviest, scurviest guy in the county.

A dead woman was found by the lake and it's not making his life any easier.

So far, so good, in the Canadian film.

But what's rather remarkable about the film is its origin: it was the director's fantasy expanding an idea he got from the Fembots' album "Small Town Murder Scene."

He would have used the Fembots in his film too except the gospellish music of the group Bruce Peninsula kept taking up more and more space in the film. First, they were going to accompany the final credits. Then something else by them became the film's introduction. Finally, they're all through the film as counterpoint, providing some of the most unusual film music to come along in a long while.

An unusual fiim, to put it mildly, beginning Friday and replaced at the Screening Room July 7 by "Trigun: Badlands Rumble."
--Jeff Simon  

'80s rockers, Jackson tribute announced at Riveria Theatre

"Who's Bad" -- The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute will be staged at 8 p.m. Sept. 16 in the Riviera Theatre (67 Webster St., North Tonawanda). Tickets for "Who's Bad" are $20 adult and $10 for children ages 10 and under.

The Riviera also has announced a double bill of '80s music with the Human League ("Don't You Want Me") and Men Without Hats ("The Safety Dance") at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 20. Tickets are $27 and $32.

Tickets for both performances are currently on sale through the Riviera Theatre box office or online at For more information, call 692-2413.

R.H. Stamps at the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center

On Saturday, the Niagara Arts and Culture Center in Niagara Falls opened an exhibition of work by the local artist R.H. Stamps. The show, which runs through Aug. 28, features a range of approaches, from oil painting to photography. Below are three samples of what's on view:

Richard Stamps - Eyes Wide Open
"Eyes Wide Open," a photography by R.H. Stamps

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Richard Stamps - Android Ball
"Android Ball," a painting by R.H. Stamps.

--Colin Dabkowski

Motown Legend Martha Reeves to perform

Spend an evening with Motown legend Martha Reeves when she performs at 6 p.m. July 26 in Kenmore Presbyterian Church (2771 Delaware Ave., Kenmore).

Tickets are $25 general admission and go on sale July 1 at the Buffalo Room Grill (2797 Delaware Ave., Kenmore). For more information, call 725-6666.

A midsummer night's opera

Meistersinger Every once in a while something comes along that makes you want to kiss the Internet. I felt that way when I learned that until July 3, you can watch Wagner's entire "Die Meistersinger" streamed from England's Glyndebourne Festival.

This is a wonderful opera for this time of year because it all takes place on one long hazy Midsummer's Day, identified in the medieval German setting as Johannestag, or the feast of St. John the Baptist. The opera makes me think of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" because it has that kind of haze of enchantment, people a little loopy and confused, in a very sweet way.

It is the first time the Glyndebourne Festival has staged "Meistersinger." The performance has subtitles and it is like being there. At the start of Act I you hear the crowd quieting, and the clipped British admonishment to turn off cell phones. Then the Russian conductor, Vladimir Jurowski, takes the podium and you get that magical overture. Beautifully performed, with real excitement. I like this Jurowski.

The staging looks adorable. The British are fun for their sense of humor -- they take a very unstuffy approach and you will probably find yourself smiling a lot. Another way that, to me, this opera is like "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is that often you want to laugh and cry at the same time. The music does that to you.

Anyway, beautiful. Serving suggestion: Take your laptop out into the garden with a glass of wine, or a cold beer, or a can of diet pop, as the case may be. Enjoy.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman


Taking a stand against art-about-art-about-art

This piece on the Venice Bienale, by New York Magazine's Jerry Saltz, gets at what I think is one of the pervading problems of the contemporary art world today: a surfeit of art about art. Too much painting that references other painting, or sculpture that talks about other sculpture, without the addition of much else to sustain our interest. (The best works of art strike a much better balance between historical nods and forward thinking.) Or criticism focused almost exclusively on where an artwork sits in the grand narrative of art history at the expense of understanding what it actually means to us today.

An excerpt:

...many times over—too many times for comfort—I saw the same thing, a highly recognizable generic ­institutional style whose manifestations are by now extremely familiar. Neo-Structuralist film with overlapping geometric colors, photographs about photographs, projectors screening loops of grainy black-and-white archival footage, abstraction that’s supposed to be referencing other abstraction—it was all there, all straight out of the seventies, all dead in the ­water. It’s work stuck in a cul-de-sac of aesthetic regress, where everyone is deconstructing the same elements.

There are plenty of people in the art world who luxuriate in the game Saltz mentions in his piece, of finding the sometimes elusive references and connections among seemingly disparate artists and styles. (This can often be fun, even for non-art dorks, as it is in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery's "Arp, Miro and Calder" exhibition.) But the problem is that most of the people who draw pleasure from that sort of approach were born and bred in the art world, which is microscopically small compared to the general audience for art in museums and galleries.

Not many of the people who walk past the Albright-Knox Art Gallery's new Nancy Rubins sculpture really, genuinely care that it mirror's Kenneth Snelson's nearby sculpture, or that it takes cues from David Smith. They mostly care that it looks really cool, or appreciate that it's a little bit of the edgy Los Angeles style transported to Elmwood Avenue. Or that it's made of actual boats that not too long ago bobbed in the current of California's Russian River. Or that Rubins' work arguably reflects and influences a style of graphic design that we're seeing today all over the pop culture spectrum, from superhero movies to animated logos. (Contemporary connections are far more interesting to most people than historical ones.)

Give Saltz's piece a read, and drop a line in the comments to let us know what you think.

--Colin Dabkowski

Taj Mahal Trio announces Tralf show

Blues legend Taj Mahal brings his trio for a show at 8 p.m. Aug. 12 in the Tralf Music Hall (622 Main St.) with openers Dr. Z and the Blues Remedy.

Tickets are $34.50 advance, $38 day of show and are on sale now through the box office, online at or charge by phone at (800) 745-3000.

For more information, visit

'Fourth Fridays' at the Trimain Center

6x6 Ani Hoover
A piece by local artist Ani Hoover, part of "Fourth Fridays" in the Trimain Center.

You've heard of "First Fridays," the growing gallery walk that packs art spaces in and around Allentown for one night each month. Now familiarize yourself with "Fourth Fridays," a monthly answer to the Allentown event held in the sprawling Trimain Center, which features open studios and exhibitons across several spaces in the building.

Today's event (the second in the series), will begin in Suite 543 at 5 p.m. with an exhibition of 6-inch by 6-inch artworks from a range of local artists to support Emerging Leaders in the Arts Buffalo. Nearby, in Suite 509, local collage artist Joyce Hill will give a preview of her work that will be on view during the upcoming Echo Art Fair on July 9 in Buffalo's Central Terminal.

A Canvas Journey.pdf - Adobe Reader 6242011 113813 AM.bmp In Impact Artists' Gallery, the painter and retired educator Ellen Garvey Canfield (left) will host a closing reception for her show, "A Canvas Journey," for which you can read her statement here. Here's an excerpt:

"I thank God everyday, for the path I chose has been full of excitement and opportunities. I taught visual arts, worked with student teachers, prepared five live television shows for the education channel, channel 17 back in the 1960’s, served as President of the New York State Art Teachers Association in 1976 and stepped out of the box to help and support other organizations. I later worked with KittyTurgeon, a Roycroft Historian, painting porcelain for the Roycroft. At present, I look forward to “Wednesday Afternoon With The Artists Group” at the East Aurora Senior Center, where I have been teaching art for the past 10 years."

Buffalo Arts Studio, also on the Trimain's fifth floor, will host a series of open studios, along with its concurrent exhibitions of work by Lin Price and Robert Booth.

And finally, painter, muralist and novelist William Y. Cooper will host a book signing for his latest book, "77 Jackson Street, Rear," a coming-of-age adventure tale set during the 1955 Montgomery, Ala. bus boycott.

--Colin Dabkowski

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