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Infringement Daily Planner: Day 2

The 8BitBuffalo collective will have its opening tonight in The Foundry.

The first day of the Buffalo Infringement Festival is behind us, and with all its unexpected encounters with utter weirdness, our appetites have been whet. The weekend days of the festival are always the busiest, and today is no exception. Below are my very subjective picks for the day, but make sure to visit the Infringement site for the day's epic schedule in case you want to come up with your own.

• At noon, an artist known as that rapper named d performs a set of socially conscious hip hop at Filigree's, the Infringement uber-venue run by festival veteran and hula-hooper extraordinaire Melissa Campbell. This guy, a presence in and around the Occupy Buffalo movement made a strong impression during an Infringement preview event a few weeks ago and he'll likely do the same today.

• Today is huge for Infringey art openings, perhaps the most hotly anticipated of which is the "8 Bit Bonanza" at The Foundry, a very cool arts space in a warehouse on Northampton Street on the East Side. The show, in addition to putting the spotlight on a number of local bands, will feature the work of the 8BitBuffalo collective, described tantalizingly as "a group of artists, both digital and traditional who, in a combination of tribute and nostalgia address the themes and aesthetics of classic (circa 1985) video games." Things get started at 7 and run through midnight.

• If video game-inspired art isn't your thing, use the opportunity to check out the opening of a new gallery next door to a new shop called Coming Home Buffalo at 138 Elmwood Ave. In addition to a series of performances from the likes of Sparklebomb and A Glitch in the Circle of Life, the space will feature work from an eclectic collection of underground artists that will remain on view throughout the festival.

Pete Sorkin, one of my favorite finds from last year's festival (here he is playing his hilarious original tune "The Residential Treatment Facility Blues") has a 6 p.m. set at the Essex Street Pub. More than worth checking out, and checking out again when he plays at various times during the rest of the fest.

• Hilarity is pretty much a sure thing during The Hotshot Whiz Kids Podcast Live event, scheduled for 6 p.m. in the back room of Rust Belt Books, which, fair warning, tends to be stuffy. (In the humid sense, not in the artsy-fartsy sense.) The Whiz Kids bill themselves as Buffalos number one comedy podcast, and their live show will feature a slate of experienced Buffalo stand-up comics. They'll record another live podcast at the same time on Saturday.

Feel free to drop your own suggestions in the comment section, and come back throughout the day (starting in the afternoon) for updates, photos and videos from day 2. Happy Infringement one and all.

--Colin Dabkowski

Infringement Daily Planner: Day 1

Today is the first day of the 8th annual Buffalo Infringement Festival, a city-wide event that showcases the vast creative underground of this region and gives local artists a chance to showcase their work. Every day in this space, we'll be listing five recommended activities. But the festival is so vast -- with hundreds of performances, theater productions, visual art shows and street parties to choose from -- that you should also check out the full schedule at

Here are today's picks:

A stretch of sidewalk in front of the Antique Man shop at 234 Allen St. will become a stage for the amorphous Infringement Busking Collective, an eclectic group of musicians and other performers who will serenade pedestrians with a series of performances ranging from straight-ahead acoustic guitar performances to experimental noise rock. (This performance from the 2011 festival, for instance, was one of the latter.) The collective performs from 12 to 6 p.m. today and returns on Friday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and next Thursday.

Anyone who has not experienced the true weirdness of Infringement might want to amble past Picasso Moon at the western edge of Allen Street between 7:30 and 8 p.m. tonight. There, they'll be able to catch an artist by the name of Andrew Biggie mounting a strange bit of performance art. Here is the show's very Infringey, very cryptic description: "Attempts to find stillness. Images of death, and reoccurring dreams hum open. They discuss duality as I lose friends. I fill my head with teenage junk. I will sing on sidewalks rearranging mundane rituals and become a plastic bag." OK, then.

I have not yet seen the Slyboots Drum Ensemble, but word on the street is that they are unmissable. It's made up of students from Buffalo's Slyboots School of Music, Art and Dance and promises a "powerful showcase of complex rhythms from around the world and infectious grooves that force your body to move." You can catch the first of many Infringement performances from the ensemble at Old Wondermoth, otherwise known as the Nickel City Co-op, at 208 North St.

The Slyboots ensemble will join the Infringement Festival Opening Parade, a sure-to-be-strange group of pot-banging, kazoo-playing, ridiculously costumed Infringers which will make its way from Old Wondermoth into the center of Allentown (and possibly back again) sometime between 6:30 and 8 p.m. It's a perfectly strange way to kick off the festival.

Today's absolute not-to-be-missed event is, as usual, the Infringement Festival Open Ceremonies, which get started in Nietzsche's at 7 p.m. and runs into the wee hours. The $5 show features a roster of 12 Buffalo bands and is a good chance to meet and hang out with Infringers from around the city.

Follow my Infringement coverage here and at @colindabkowski.

--Colin Dabkowski

The Gusto Blog is Infringement central through Aug. 4

Buffalo beat-boxer Scantron will give several performances during this year's Infringement Festival.

On Thursday, the weird, wacky and altogehter unpredictable Buffalo Infringement Festival kicks off its 11-day run. For the length of Infringement, keep your browsers pointed to this blog, which will host a daily Infringement planner, reviews, video interviews, commentary and, hopefully, some pointed opinions from Infrgers and audience members.

(Check out last year's bloggy Infringement coverage for an idea of what to expect.)

Also, I can't stress strongly enough that this is meant to be a space for community discussion and engagement, so please don't hesitate to chime in about your favorite Infringement acts, or to disagree with me, or to offer up any kind of Infringey opinions or information. You can do that in the comment section at the end of each post, or you can find me on Twitter at @colindabkowski. (In past years, engagement from Infringementgoers and blog readers hasn't been as high as I'd like, so it would be extra-awesome if we could get a bigger and better conversation going on the blog this year.)

Also, be sure to follow the official @infringebuffalo Twitter feed for updates throughout the festival.

Come back tomrrow morning for the first list of Infringement recommendations, a new grouping of which will be posted every morning until the festival winds down on Aug. 4. Happy Infringement!

--Colin Dabkowski

Forty-five minutes with Kevin Cain

Kevin Cain, former director of The Vault, in a portrait by local artist Julian Montague. (Photo courtesy of Montague)

Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting down with local musician, artist and curator Kevin Cain to talk about the closure of The Vault. That Main Street art space, which shut down at the end of June, gained a reputation as an indie art and music hot spot in its four brief years of existence.

During our talk, Cain's thoughts ranged into some fascinating areas that I wasn't able to include in 18 column inches, so I'm posting the audio of our conversation below for anyone who's interested. Cain had some important things to say about the direction of development in the city, the nature of creative art spaces like the one he ran and just what makes Buffalo's art scene and its underground tick. Here he is:

--Colin Dabkowski

A sultry opera on a summer night


By Mary Kunz Goldman

If it's rainy on Wednesday night, or if it's hot ... go to "Carmen."

The smoldering opera by Bizet, one of the greatest hit operas of all time, is being broadcast in a Metropolitan Opera performance in high definition. It stars Elina Garanca as Carmen and Roberto Alagna as Don Jose. Alagna has a smoldering, obsessive quality that should make him a great Don Jose, the officer who falls desperately in love with Carmen. He is also a little guy which should ratchet things up a bit. In the opera, the officer finds he is no match for Carmen. It is a passionate story but also a pathetic one.

"Carmen" is part of the Met Summer Encores series. This performance was originally broadcast in January 2010. Renee Fleming interviews the opera's stars at intermission.

The opera screens at the Regal on Transit and on Regal Elmwood Center at 7 p.m. Wednesday.


UPDATE: Buffalo releases long-delayed arts funding application

The City of Buffalo, under pressure from arts organizations to deliver on its promise of funding for cultural and anti-violence groups, released its long-delayed funding application this week. The city has given groups until April 5 to apply for the funding. Here's a copy of the application, which lays out the city's requirements for applicants. 

According to Arts Services Initiative Executive Director Tod A. Kniazuk, the city did not send the application out to all eligible organziations. Kniazuk also said that the city will not employ the inordinately useful Cultural Data Project, an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts specifically designed for situations like the current funding delay at City Hall and to depoliticize the cultural funding process.

ASI is sending the application out to all eligible groups today.

"So, there you have it," Kniazuk wrote in an email. "A two week turnaround for the organizations who were lucky enough to find out about it."

Continue reading "UPDATE: Buffalo releases long-delayed arts funding application" »

Culture takes center stage in Poloncarz address

Earlier this evening, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz delivered his first "State of the County" address in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The location he chose to deliver that speech, the cultural flagship of Western New York and one of the driving forces of the region's ongoing arts renaissance, speaks volumes about the county executive's understanding culture's importance to the identity of Western New York.

And what he said in the speech about the role of the arts here -- something that until very recently a local public would never have acknowledged to the extent Poloncarz did -- will be heartening to the dozens of cultural organizations who lobbied so hard for the demise of his predecessor:

The Albright Knox is just one example of the abundance of riches we have in Erie County including: nationally renowned museums; an amazing philharmonic orchestra; landmarks from architectural giants; and, a thriving theater scene other cities would love to have.


I believe investment in our arts and cultural assets should be no more optional than funding our parks, roads and bridges. Each one of these is an integral part of the infrastructure of our community; some are steel and concrete, others are body and mind. The resident doesn’t need to ‘use’ the arts any more than the need to use every single road or bridge or park supported by their tax dollars to derive a benefit from them thriving. 

This is progress. Much more work remains to be done, including the creation of a more equitable approach to funding the county's cultural organizations, and making sure our region doesn't put the cart before the horse when it comes to cultural tourism. But compared to the state of cultural funding and government foresight in this region two years ago, things seem to be looking up.

--Colin Dabkowski


Video chat replay: Critics' Corner with Jeff Simon and Jeff Miers

ASI releases its annual report

Arts czar 05
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

A major windfall for Springville's Center for the Arts

Lifestlyes Gusto cover scull
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

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