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"Wish You Were Here" in the Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal published a review of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery's major exhibition "Wish You Were Here," which documents the creative activity in and around this city during the 1970s. In his review, critic Richard B. Woodward calls the show "an act of civic boosterism couched within an adventurous historical survey."

The review elicited a pair of comments from Edmund Cardoni, executive director of Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, one of many institutions which played a vital role in the creative life of the city during the period the exhibition covers (and one, like CEPA and the Albright-Knox, that continues to do so today). Cardoni, who finds the the review condescending, writes:

Predictably for the WSJ (as for most NYC and other big market publications), although we out here in the provinces appreciate the attention, this is a bit condescending, and in that condescension, inaccurate. Mr. Woodward doesn't get the point that it wasn't only about the individual avant-garde artists who were living and working here—though there were certainly plenty of those, in the 1970s as well as both before and since—but the curators, spaces, and institutions that uniquely supported the development and creation of major (even career-making) projects by visiting and Buffalo-based artists alike, the former of whom who came here for the opportunities, synergies, open spaces (in the case of Artpark), and spirit of collaboration they couldn't find in quite the same way in NYC and other acknowledged art capitals (i.e., commercial markets). I have two questions for Mr. Woodward: Should all the usual coverage of the NYC art scene (and NYC's resident artists) in the WSJ, NYT, etc., be viewed as mere "boosterism" of the NYC art scene and its artists? Why not? Should exhibitions, installations, and other artistic productions commissioned or presented by NYC arts institutions but involving non-resident artists from places and times other than present-day NYC itself (i.e., "local artists")—oh, let's say from France or China or the 19th century, to name but three examples—not count in those institutions' favor because the artists themselves aren't really from NYC, but are from "elsewhere," i.e., they may have "exhibited in…the city" [in this case NYC], "but were not based there"? Respectfully, Edmund Cardoni, Director, Hallwalls.

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GustoTV: Simon says 'The Raven' is ingenious

News Arts Editor Jeff Simon says the adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" opening this week may be the best film adaptation of Poe's work. Look for his review in Friday's Gusto.

Video: Critics' Corner chat with Simon, Miers at 1 p.m.

News Arts Editor Jeff Simon and News Pop Music Critic Jeff Miers answer your questions directly into the camera beginning at 1 p.m. Submit your questions about books, movies, television, music and more in the chat console below.

Mochrie, Sherwood brings the laughs to UBCFA

Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood, the stars of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?," will present an evening of improvisational comedy at 7 p.m. Sept. 29 in the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts (North Campus, Amherst).

Tickets are $32-$40 and go on sale at 10 a.m. May 2 through the box office, online at or charge by phone at (800) 745-3000.

For more information, call 645-ARTS (2787) or visit

Ingrid Michaelson to play Town Ballroom

Indie pop singer and songwriter Ingrid Michaelson will perform at 7 p.m. July 20 in the Town Ballroom (681 Main St.). Greg Laswell opens the show.

Tickets are $20 advance, $24 day of show and go on sale at noon on April 27 through the box office, online at or charge by phone at (888) 223-6000.

For more information, call 852-3900 or visit

Andrew Bird performs at Artpark

Chicago songwriter, violinist and singer Andrew Bird will perform at 7 p.m. July 16 at Artpark in Lewiston.

Tickets are $32 and go on sale at 10 a.m. April 27 through the box office, online at or charge by phone at (888) 223-6000.

For more information, call 754-4375 or visit

Maynard James Keenan brings Puscifer to WNY in June!

Puscifer, the alternative electronic outfit led by Tool frontman and vocalist Maynard James Keenan, announced its summer tour today. The road trek commences at Bonaroo on June 9th, and will include a stop at the Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St., North Tonawanda, on June 20th! No ticket information yet, but I'll get it to you as soon as it gets to me! In the meantime, view the tour announcement here. 

- Jeff Miers  

The Phantom of Shea's Buffalo


Was that fun or what, seeing the 1925 "The Phantom of the Opera" at Shea's Performing Arts Center on Sunday, accompanied by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra? Plus Dennis James, on the Mighty Wurlitzer. 

It was not like anything you could have dreamed up!

I am not normally a big silent movie nerd. But after interviewing Dennis James I had to go see this thing. I was just so fascinated by James' stories about traveling with the silent movie stars.

And I have to say, "The Phantom of the Opera" surprised me. The artistry of this movie was magnificent. It was not camp or funny or hokey. It was extremely well put together.

There are scenes that are beautiful to look at. One scene near the start has a bevy of about 30 ballerinas, all in white tutus, flying around the backstage of the opera house, wheeling like panicked birds. Sometimes you see the Phantom just as a brief shadow.

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Ani DiFranco performs at Babeville

Ani DiFranco performs in Babeville.    Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News

Perhaps some of you have been worried that Ani DiFranco’s midlife happiness and maternal contentment might have made her soft, politically speaking. Think again. Her latest effort, the stirring "Which Side Are You On?," rightly portrays DiFranco as the spiritual matriarch of a movement like Occupy Wall Street. Like an underground, alternative, mainstream-defying version of Bruce Springsteen, the DiFranco of "Which Side..." takes on the powers that belittle and besiege, with a blend of fearlessness and fierce musicality. It’s classic DiFranco, then, and that’s something the world needs, perhaps more so now than ever. 

What we in Buffalo need, however, is a little face-time with our town’s favorite ambassador to the music world at large. We’ll get just that at 7 p.m. April 22 when DiFranco comes home to Asbury Hall @ Babeville (341 Delaware Ave.). Tickets are $32.50 ( Pearl and the Beard will open the show. 

-- Jeff Miers

Subversive Theatre presents "Speed the Plow"

Timothy Patrick Finnegan and Andrea Andolina perform in the Subversive Theatre Collective production of "Speed the Plow."    John Hickey/Buffalo News

David Mamet’s 1988 play "Speed-the-Plow," a brutal send-up of the movie industry and the testosterone-soaked egos that fuel it, has become a favorite of Hollywood types hoping to distance themselves from their native environment.

A 2008 Broadway revival attracted Jeremy Piven, who created a very Hollywoodesque scandal by leaving the show before his contract ended. Also in 2008, temporary Hollywood expats Kevin Spacey and Jeff Goldblum played the lead male roles. It’s also a favorite of vocal Hollywood critic Alec Baldwin, who performed the play in a reading at Buffalo State College’s Rockwell Hall in 2009.

And tonight (April 20), in a production of the anti-establishment Subversive Theatre Collective, Timothy Patrick Finnegan, Kevin Craig and Andrea Andolina will take on the highly pressurized piece of comedy. The show, directed by Christopher Standart, centers around a newly minted film exec (Finnegan), a down-on-his-luck producer (Craig) and a wily secretary (Andolina). In typical Mamet fashion, egos are stoked and then popped, obscenities fly and the dark side of human nature comes out to play.

Tickets to the show, which runs through May 13, are $15 to $20. More information is available at or 408-0499.

-- Colin Dabkowski

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