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Buffalo & Erie County Public Library releases list of most popular books

On Friday, the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library released its annual list of the most popular and requested books of the year. Here it is:

Most requested books:

1. "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn

2. "Inferno" by Dan Brown

3. "And the Mountains Echoed" by Khaled Hosseini

Adult fiction

1. "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn

2. "The Forgotten" by David Baldacci

3. "Notorious" by Janet Evanovich

Adult non-fiction

1. "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption" by Laura Hillenbrand

2. "Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot" by Bill O'Reilly

3. "Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir that Inspired 'Upstairs/Downstairs' and 'Downton Abbey'" by Margaret Powell

Young adult/teen

1. "Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins

2. "Mockingjay" by Suzanne Collins

3. "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins

Children's fiction

1. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel" by Jeff Kinney

2. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days" by Jeff Kinney

3. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw" by Jeff Kinney

Children's non-fiction

1. "The Lego Book" by Daniel Lipkowitz

2. "The Lego Ideas Book" by Daniel Lipkowitz

3. "Lego Super Heroes: Batman Visual Dictionary" by Daniel Lipkowitz

--Colin Dabkowski

Farewell to Boyd Lee Dunlop


By Mary Kunz Goldman

It is a sad day today in Buffalo because of the passing of Boyd Lee Dunlop. Dunlop, who reportedly died last night, was a great jazz pianist and even greater spirit.

Dunlop's hit CD "Boyd's Blues" captured worldwide attention in 2012 when it shot to No. 5 on the jazz charts. The world was enchanted not only by the fragile, soulful music but also by the surreal circumstances surrounding the recording. Dunlop was in his 80s, living in a nursing home. He had already cheated death several times.

I got to meet him in January, when he was coming out with his new CD, "The Lake Reflections." We met in the Delaware Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where he lived. I was introduced to him by Brendan Bannon, the extraordinary friend Dunlop made late in life. Bannon was instrumental in bringing about Dunlop's CD. He spent countless hours and days with Dunlop in the nursing home, including in the pianist's last hours. Dunlop used to tell him, "You gave me back myself."

Meeting Dunlop was a wonderful experience. People used to tell him, "Boyd, you light up the room," and that day in January, I saw it was true. There was nothing like the sight of Boyd Lee Dunlop, tall and lean, swaggering into a room -- and even at 86, he did swagger -- wearing a cowboy hat and a bright mischievous smile.

That he died at Christmastime could be called appropriate. Boyd loved God. Brendan Bannon, who was with us that January day in the nursing home, said as much. 

"You talk about God a lot, man, don't you?" Brendan said to him.

"I do," Dunlop said. When you complimented him on his playing, he used to point heavenward and say, "It comes from God." There were other memorable musicians in history -- Franz Josef Haydn was one -- who used to do and say that same thing.

Dunlop also took a delight in life. I remember that Brendan good-naturedly baited him: "Now you're walking on the graves of people who said you couldn't do it, aren't you, Boyd?"

And Boyd said, "That's right. I feel good!"

He sat down at the nursing home spinet that day and played for anyone and no one. When he took a break, it was great fun to hear him talk about piano and pianists.

"Earl Hines was old-fashioned even when I was a kid," he laughed. And: "Rachmaninoff was really beautiful. Thick hands, but agile." And: "Art Tatum didn't drink whiskey, only beer."

He is survived by his brother, the drummer Frankie Dunlop, who was famous for performing with Thelonious Monk. It is poignant now to think that Boyd Lee Dunlop has gone to join other jazz greats who have left us. He will be remembered -- as a warm spirit, a bright presence, an inspiration to us all.

"I reached up to the sky and brought the house down," he laughed back in January. 

"God gave me the talent."

Live chat at noon: Miers on Music

Anthony Bannon remembers Bruce Kurland

Bruce Kurland (1938-2013), Self Portrait, 1972; oil on canvas, 24 1/4 x 20 1/4 inches (Frame: 24 1/4 x 20 1/4 inches); Given in Memory of Joseph T. Suchan by his Mother, 1996

The gifted Western New York painter Bruce Kurland died on Dec. 11 after a long and prolific career. He was 75. On the Burchfield Penney Art Center website, director and former Buffalo News critic Anthony Bannon has a moving remembrance of Kurland. Here is an excerpt:

Kurland was a dark presence, down toward the end of the Hall, the first hall that connected artists’ studios and supplied the walls for Hallwalls, which now is a venerable artist-run alternative space in a different building in Buffalo. It was alright that many did not notice him over there. He was older.

Kurland also could be found toward the end of the gallery space Ran Webber operated 40 years ago at the high end of the funky area called Allentown, closer to downtown Buffalo. Webber’s place was called Gallery Wilde. Ran was aware of the double meaning.

The two spaces -- Hallwalls and Wilde -- were much different. That is a part of Kurland’s measure, that he sat at both places. Kurland was different, too. People were attracted to him because he was a rough enigma, quiet and handsome -- compelling, unknowable, coming out of the mists of marijuana, sitting there with his wine and cigarettes.

Death hung over him. So did life, but dangerously.  He didn’t speak a lot. But the people knew he was very smart about art. People knew he had done well in New York City, and for some reason now he chose to live up here, out in the country, outside of Arcade, in a hamlet called Couriers. Not many had seen his work. People said he painted still lives...

Read Bannon's full remembrance here.

--Colin Dabkowski


The year in art: my 13 favorite exhibitions

During the past 12 months, Buffalo's museums, galleries and outdoor walls have been bursting with excellent exhibitions. Here's a look at 13 of my favorite shows from 2013:

1. "Patrick Robideau: Hallway," Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center

2. "Kyle Butler: Dead in the Eye, Strait in the Face," Nina Freudenheim Gallery

3. "Robert Therrien," Albright-Knox Art Gallery

4. "Kelly Richardson: Legion," Albright-Knox Art Gallery

5. "Charles E. Burchfield: Oh My Heavens," Burchfield Penney Art Center

6. "Vascular Modes," Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center

7. "Sangster's Niagra," Meibohm Fine Arts

8. "The Front Yard," Burchfield Penney Art Center

9. "Healing Hearts: From Hurt to Hope," Albright-Knox Art Gallery

10. "2XmT," Silo City

11. Allen Street Street Artists Collective

12. "Enjambment: Andrew Topolski," Burchfield Penney Art Center

13. "Anselm Kiefer: Beyond Landscape," Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Honorable mentions:

"My Future Ex," University at Buffalo and various sites around Buffalo

"The Future Is History," 37 Chandler St.

"Borderland: Marshall Schuettle," CEPA Gallery

"Katherine Sehr: The Lineaer Truth," Nina Freudenheim Gallery

--Colin Dabkowski

Five art videos from 2013

This has been an astounding year for the visual arts in Western New York. From the arrival of Janne Sirén as the 11th director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the opening of the Burchfield Penney Art Center's ambitious exhibition "The Front Yard" (running "now through forever") to smaller-scale shows at Hallwalls, CEPA Gallery and elsewhere, the activity has been breathless and often stunning.

I trained my lens on a few particularly fascinating shows and artists this year. Here's a look at five of my favorite art videos from the past year:

"The Front Yard," Burchfield Penney Art Center

"Shasti O'Leary Soudant: Let There be Light," Burchfield Penney Art Center

"Patrick Robideau: Hallway," Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center

"Underlife" by Jason Middlebrook, Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Ian DeBeer and Max Collins, corner of Elmwood and Breckenridge

--Colin Dabkowski

Thirteen of my favorite productions from 2013

The past 12 months have held so many memorable theatergoing experiences. As I've browsed through the archive of my art and theater coverage this year in the process of putting together several year-end pieces, a big handful of productions stood out.

Here's a list of my 13 favorite productions of the year, with links to my reviews or previews:

1. "Motion Picture" at Silo City, produced by Torn Space Theater

2. Karen Finley's "Written in Sand: Collected AIDS Writing" at the University at Buffalo

3. "Clybourne Park" at Road Less Traveled Theatre

4. "August: Osage County" at Kavinoky Theatre

5. "Into the Woods" at New Phoenix Theatre, produced by Second Generation Theatre

6. "Book of Mormon" at Shea's Performing Arts Center

7. "Buffalo Rises" at Road Less Traveled Theatre

8. "War Horse" at Shea's Performing Arts Center

9. "Mister Benney" at the Maxine and Robert Seller Theatre, produced by Jewish Repertory Theatre

10. "La Gringa" at Road Less Traveled Theatre, produced by Raíces Theatre

11. "Miracle on South Division Street" at Kavinoky Theatre

12. "L'Imitation of Life" at Buffalo United Artists Theatre

13. Peter Michael Marino's "Desperately Seeking the Exit" at Allen Street Hardware

--Colin Dabkowski

A 'minimalist holiday reading' tonight on Grant Street.

Two poets with ties to the University at Buffalo's Poetics program and a "proclivity for brevity" in their work will be featured tonight at 7 p.m. at Sweetness 7 Café, 220 Grant St. in what has been appropriately billed as "minimalist holiday reading" featuring Graham Foust and Michael Flatt.

Foust, a 2002 UB Poetics Program Ph.D who co-edited the journal Lagniappe:Poetry and Poetics in Review from 1998 to 2002 with Ben Friedlander, is the author of five full-length collections of poetry: "As in Every Deafness" (Flood Editions, 2003); "Leave the Room to Itself" (Ahsahta Press, 2004); "Necessary Stranger" (Flood Editions, 2007); "A Mouth in California" (Flood Editions, 2009); and "To Anacreon In Heaven" (Flood Editions, 2013).

He is also the co-translator (with Samuel Frederick) of "In Time's Rift" [Im Zeitspalt], a collection of the later poems by the German poet Ernst Meister published by Wave Books in 2012.  He has taught at Drake University, at Saint Mary's College of California, and, currently, as assistant professor at the University of Denver.

Owing much to the mordant concision and radical linguistic misdirections of English language writing after Samuel Beckett, Foust's work advances Beckett's familiar endgame tropes and schemes with the compelling immediacy of an idiomatic jolt. 

Michael Flatt is currently a Ph.D. student in the UB Poetics Program.  His work has appeared has appeared in such publications as Colorado Review, New Pages, Octopus Magazine, and Cutbank.  His first-length collection of poems, "Absent Receiver" published earlier this year by Springgun Press, was praised by J. Michael Martinez in a recent Poetry Society of America 'New American Poets' feature as "gorgeous in its intelligence and surreal sways."

Flatt's work "excavates those spaces of joy that can only occur after the damage," writes Martinez: "His work is like the night a lover confesses betrayal and, exposed, is wretched in their weakness; however, the power of his work isn't in aestheticized confession, Michael Flatt's genius is his ability to unlock the aesthetic and recover, in these events of rot and persecution, the grace love possesses to forgive the dark…"

The event is free and open to the public.

--R.D. Pohl


Live chat at noon: Miers on Music

Thursday Theater Roundup: 'Agnes of God' and 'Bounty' wrap up


"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" runs through Sunday in Shea's Performing Arts Center.

The Thursday Theater Roundup features currently running productions that received three or more stars from our reviewers. Here are this week's picks:

"How the Grinch Stole Christmas," through Sunday in Shea's Performing Arts Center.

"Agnes of God," through Dec. 21 in Rust Belt Books, produced by Brazen-Faced Varlets. ★★★½

"Bounty," through Dec. 21 in New Phoenix Theatre. ★★★½

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