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The idylls of the king

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It is fascinating, how they found the bones of England's King Richard III. The story is a history fan's dream.

It will be interesting to see if this discovery leads to other discoveries. Was Richard the villain portrayed in Shakespeare's "Richard III"? Or was he framed for the murder of the princes in the tower?

Whatever your opinion you may glory in the sheer beauty of the writing of G.K. Chesterton, describing this mysterious monarch. If you do not have time to read the entire passage, find a break in your day to savor the ending:

...Whatever else may have been bad or good about Richard of Gloucester, there was a touch about him which makes him truly the last of the mediaeval kings. It is expressed in the one word which he cried aloud as he struck down foe after foe in the last charge at Bosworth—treason. For him, as for the first Norman kings, treason was the same as treachery; and in this case at least it was the same as treachery. When his nobles deserted him before the battle, he did not regard it as a new political combination, but as the sin of false friends and faithless servants. Using his own voice like the trumpet of a herald, he challenged his rival to a fight as personal as that of two paladins of Charlemagne. His rival did not reply, and was not likely to reply. The modern world had begun. The call echoed unanswered down the ages; for since that day no English king has fought after that fashion. Having slain many, he was himself slain and his diminished force destroyed. So ended the war of the usurpers; and the last and most doubtful of all the usurpers, a wanderer from the Welsh marches, a knight from nowhere, found the crown of England under a bush of thorn.

Isn't that beautiful? A Buffalo priest, Father John Mack, posted a link to this passage on Facebook this morning. That last sentence, the rising and falling of the words, gives me chills. It is true: after the battle, Richard's crown was found under a thorn bush.

It is a gift to be able to put history in perspective so gracefully that it is a joy to read.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman

It's 'Beautiful Buffalo Week' in Toronto

Buffalo is getting some major love from Toronto this week, as a storefront performance space and cinema in the city's Kensington Market neighborhood hosts a series of events designed to highlight the artistic output of Toronto's "oft-maligned sister city."

The organization's "Beautiful Buffalo Week" kicked off Monday with a reading of two plays by the gifted Buffalo-based playwright Neil Wechsler. He read from his new play "The Brown Bull of Cuailnge" and from his acclaimed drama "Grenadine," last seen here in a Road Less Traveled Theatre production in 2009.

Up next is an event called "Buffalo Hates You Too" -- after the cheeky slogan invented by Western New York Book Arts Center founder Richard Kegler -- on Thursday night at 8. The screening, curated by artist and designer Julian Montague and Squeaky Wheel Director Jax Deluca, will feature work by various Buffalo-based video and new media artists.

The celebration culminates on Friday with a conversation between Montague and Joshua Babcock and Cristina Naccarato of Toronto's art collective Broken City Lab at 7:30 p.m. Here's the description for that event, which sounds well worth the trip across the border: "Videofag is excited to be hosting these three artists in discussion on the ways in which artists cities with an abundance of space - specifically in so-called 'North American Rustbelt' - are innovating new functions for disused buildings/public spaces, and in the process reinventing the possibilities of neighbourhoods, community, and the artist's role within a city. Specific examples will be drawn from BCL's own repurposing of Windsor storefronts and empty ad space on city transit."

Look for my take on the program in Sunday's paper.

--Colin Dabkowski

ASI releases its annual report

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Tod A. Kniazuk, executive director of the Arts Services Initiative of Western New York, in his office in December, 2011. Photo by Robert Kirkham / Buffalo News.

In 2012, the the Arts Services Initiative of Western New York, under the direction of Tod A. Kniazuk, has been working on a number of projects aimed at improving the health of the region's cultural vitality. It's tough work, but according to the organization's 2012 annual report, released this week, ASI (still in desperate need of a better name) has been making progress. Check the report out here.

--Colin Dabkowski

Small Press Book Fair expands to two days

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The 2011 Buffalo Small Press Book Fair. File photo by Charles Lewis / The Buffalo News.

The Buffalo Small Press Book Fair, launched in 2007, will expand its schedule frome one to two days this year, according to fair co-founder Chris Fritton.

"The growth of the fair continues, and its incredible pace made it necessary to extend the event," Fritton wrote in a Facebook post. "It's my sincere hope that this will give more artists and more visitors a chance to experience the fair."

The fair will be held on April 6 and 7 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum at 453 Porter Ave.

--Colin Dabkowski

A major windfall for Springville's Center for the Arts

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Seth Wochensky from the Springville Center for the Arts in Springville on Thursday, March 15, 2012. (Photo by Harry Scull Jr. / Buffalo News).

On Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office announced the second round of grants from its Regional Economic Development initiative. As far as Western New York was concerned, the most surprising items on the list had to be two major grants for the Springville Center for the Arts to fund a pair of projects to repair and improve two historic buildings in the heart of the village. They totaled more than $800,000, a gargantuan sum for an arts organization of the SCA's size.

Back in April, I wrote a story on the center's attempts to revitalize an economically downtrodden community, which you can read in PDF form here. (Our archives are not yet back online.) The SCA, which has one of the better strategic plans I've ever read, was already an extraordinary example of how the arts can benefit a small community. This investment has the potential to turn it into a national model for reviving main streets around the country.

I talked with SCA director Seth Wochensky today about the grants, how the small organization managed to procure them and what they mean for the future of Springville's community and economy. My story on the grants will run tomorrow, but in the meantime, here's our chat:

 

--Colin Dabkowski

Cardoni on arts funding

On Sunday, my column about Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz's proposed 2013 budget appeared in The News. The budget includes increased funding for arts organizations but also a 3.4 percent property tax hike. On Monday, the county executive's communications and policy director Mark Cornell responded. And today, Halllwalls Contemporary Arts Center director and outspoken arts advocate Edmund Cardoni responded to Cornell's suggestion that the cultural community needs to continue to make an argument for why it deserves county funding.

Here's an excerpt of Cardoni's comment:

"...Speaking for myself and my fellow arts advocates (and, if I may, library supporters), we don't take anything for granted and understand full well that we need to go to bat for your budget with 100% effort, not only in the interest of our sector, but for the good of all the citizens of Erie County, because those of us who work in the arts and the individual artists for whom we advocate (most of whom are homeowners and taxpayers ourselves), our audiences and individual supporters, the children served by our arts education programs, and the owners of all the small businesses we patronize ourselves and help generate business for are ALL citizens of Erie County. It's a balanced budget, a compassionate budget, a responsible budget, and a budget that will keep Erie County's regional economic development moving forward. We support it all."

--Colin Dabkowski

Infringement Daily Planner: Day 10

On this, the penultimate day of the 2012 Buffalo Infringement Festival, in the neighborhood of 100 separate performances are slated for venues across the city. It's perhaps the busiest day of Infringement so far. If you need some help deciding what to do, here are my suggestions for the day:

• At Old Wondermoth, the Buffalo Contact Improvisation Jam Performance Group perfroms their show "Random Contact" from 12 to 1 p.m. Contact improv (of which you can see an example in this video at around the 3:58 mark) is a form of dance in which the participants' bodies are always touching in some way during the performance. Done well, it can be beautiful to watch.

• Also at noon at the Occupy Buffalo house, a whole host of bands will play for the Occupy Buffalo-sponsored "Anti Warped Tour," which also features art from the Occupy movement and other events/activities.

• I have it on good authority (that of "Incident at Deer Lick" author and performer Franklin LaVoie, if you must know), that Erin Bouvy's performance of "Knot… My Best Moments" is an absolute must-see. The piece is a clown show "for mature audiences," featuring burlesque, physical comedy and character intensive acting." The show runs at 5 p.m. today and 6 p.m. Sunday in El Museo.

• At 7 p.m. in Wasteland Studios, the Francis Bacon Experiment presents "420 the Musical," a project in development about which the word-of-mouth is quite good.

• The Buffalo Burlesque Collective, along with Jayme Coxx and The Bad Grils, presents "A Midsummer Night's Drag" at 7:45 in the Alt Theatre at the Warehouse. A trio of naughtily named hosts will "lead the audience through a mystical, hysterical and off-color version of the classic Shakespearean comedy."

--Colin Dabkowski

Franklin LaVoie reads 'Incident at Deer Lick'

This afternoon, I caught Franklin LaVoie's performance of his story "Incident at Deer Lick" at the year-old West Side Stories used book store on Grant Street. He was kind enough to let me record it in full:

--Colin Dabkowski

Infringement Daily Planner: Day 8

It's the eighth day of the 2012 Buffalo Infringement Festival, and things are heating up in Allentown. Check out my suggestions below, or wade through the official schedule. Either way, today's a good day to get out there and Infringe:

Franklin LaVoie, the gifted artist and storyteller behind "Incident at Deer Lick" has also been giving a performance of three Celtic stories. You can check that out today at noon in Westside Stories. LaVoie will also present "Incident at Deer Lick" in the same venue at 5 p.m.

• Sticking with the storytelling theme, the five-minute short story open mic "Buffalore" is slated for 5 p.m. at Sp@ce 224.

• At 6 p.m., Montreal-based singer-songwriter Elgin Skye performs at Night House. Here's the description of her work from the Infringement website: "Elgin-Skye McLaren lives in Montreal where she writes poems, songs and lonely love letters. Armed with an electric guitar and a looping pedal, she plays lo-fi indie-pop with a style reminiscent of artists such as Regina Spektor, Bjork, and Braids. Elgin-Skye’s politeness and humble disposition betray her booming, buoyant voice. Her songs are thoughtful reflections on love, loss, and woodland creatures. Her sets may include, but are not limited to: clapping, whistling, cooing, singing, stomping."

• From 7 to 8 p.m., the Montrealers from Optative Theatre Laboratories presents "Car Stories," the Infringement show that started it all, near The Melting Point on Allen Street. If you haven't experienced this unorthodox style of theater -- in which the back set of the car is the theater and the front seat is the stage -- you can catch the show today, Friday or Saturday.

• For you night owls, head over to Roxy's at midnight to catch a performance of Buffalo burlesque group The Stripteasers performing their show "Thank God for Lesbians."

--Colin Dabkowski

Wandering the Infringement outposts

Tonight there's plenty of action happening in the Infringement Festival's non-Allentown outposts (not to say Allentown itself isn't hopping like mad with Infringement activities), including Main (St)udios, The Vault, Wasteland Studios and Filigree's. After checking out the very cool, extremely funny "Reader's Theater" at Burning Books, I took a short tour of the first three of those venues. Here a little of what I saw:

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Above, artist Tara Sasiadek paints the face of Nicole Kujawski outside Main (St)udios, where a small crowd was gathered as the evening's art opening wound down. This space is also the site of a recently completed mural that's been turning heads in the up-and-coming neighborhood on Main Street.

After that I headed to Wasteland Studios, where I encountered this magnificent piece of homemade couture...

Continue reading "Wandering the Infringement outposts" »

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