Today marked the opening of Just Buffalo Literary Center's new Writing Center, an airy, open room above the Western New York Book Arts Center that will host workshops and serve as a drop-in center for local students looking to develop their writing skills. JBLC Education Director Noah Falck kicked off the festivities, which included a series of poetry readings from students and professionals, and lots of smiles all around.
Look for more coverage of the space my column on Sunday, and check out the series of workshops it offers here.
And just for fun, here's an original poem read by Janna Willoughby-Lohr -- who was standing on an actual Just Buffalo Literary Center-sanctioned soapbox at the time -- during this afternon's event:
Just Buffalo Literary Center will mark the official opening of its new Writing Center with a launch celebration from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday at its recently renovated second floor space at 468 Washington Street (above the Western New York Book Arts Center) near the intersection of Mohawk Street.
Among the activities planned for the celebration are "pop-up" readings featuring young writers involved Just Buffalo's various education and Spotlight on Youth programs, as well as readings by Just Buffalo's professional teaching artist staff, interactive writing games, live music, and (as the organization's press release notes, with an exclamation point) cake.
Although the second floor space has been in use since February for member events and the recently inaugurated Studio Reading Series, its launch as a Writing Center offering a full range of workshops, critique groups, and writing assistance services (including one-on-one assistance with homework and college readiness) represents a major initiative for Just Buffalo, tying its programs for writers of all ages and experience levels together in a common, multi-use location.
Robin Lee Jordan--a widely published, Buffalo-based writer of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction who received her MFA in Poetry from Oregon State University, teaches at the University at Buffalo, and serves as a youth mentor at Gay & Lesbian Youth Services of Western New York--will be the Just Buffalo Writing Center's coordinator.
In conjunction with the launch of its Writing Center, Just Buffalo has announced a complete schedule of late spring and summer writing workshops beginning next week and extending through August. The workshops will all be led by writers who serve as teaching artists in Just Buffalo's education programs, an impressive roster that includes poet Sherry Robbins, novelist and playwright Gary Earl Ross, playwright Neil Wechsler, writer and media artist Brian Mihok, performance poet Janna Willoughby-Lohr, poets Cheryl Quimba and Rachel Katz, photographer and visual artist Catherine Linder Spencer, and poet-publishers Amanda Montei and Jon Rutzmoser, both Ph.D. candidates in the UB Poetics Program and co-editors of Bon Aire Projects.
Colleen Stillwell, left, and Dennis Maher will host a joint art and food event on Saturday. Photo by Ginny Rose Stewart.
Title: "Fargo Dinner" // Artists: Dennis Maher and Colleen Stillwell // Saturday in The Fargo House // Sold out
If art can be food and food can be art -- and at this moment in Buffalo's cultural and culinary evolution, it would be straight-up foolhardy to dispute the notion -- then this new collaboration between architect and artist Dennis Maher and pastry chef extraordinaire Colleen Stillwell has to rank as an ideal marriage. On Saturday, 50 guests will filter through Maher's Fargo House, an ever-evolving sculptural creation where he lives and works as they experience "nine different courses in nine different atmospheres."
According to curator Claire Schneider, formerly of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and now working independently in Buffalo and elsewhere, "the ingredients, presentation and taste of each course will resonate with the rooms within which each plate is set."
"The cycling of guests and culinary delights throughout the house is meant to echo the movements of objects and materials that are continually reorganized within Maher's own living space," she continued. "Participatnts will metaphorically 'consume' the house -- its walls, floors, ceilings, furnishings and objects."
No word yet on exactly what the house will taste like, but if the sold-out event goes well, we can expect to see more such fusions of art and food in the future.
You know summer is on the way when the Roycroft Chamber Music Festival announces its season. The group of musicians who get together every June to perform four concerts in East Aurora have lovely things planned for this year.
8 p.m. Sat., June 7: Mozart's "Hunt" Quartet; Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8; Mendelssohn's Piano Trio in D Minor.
7 p.m. Sunday, June 8: Frank Bridge's "Miniatures"; the 1933 String Trio of Jean Francaix; Schumann's Quartet No. 3 in A.
8 p.m. Friday, June 13: Max Bruch's Pieces for Clarinet, Viola and Piano, Op. 84; Beethoven's Piano Trio in E Flat, Op. 70; Smetana's Quartet No. 1, "From My Life."
8 p.m. Sat., June 14: Ravel's Sonata for Violin and Piano; Grieg's String Quartet No. 2; Poulenc's Sextet for Piano and Winds.
All the above concerts take place at St. Matthias Episcopal Church, 374 Main St., East Aurora. Admission is $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Tickets may be had at the Roycroft Inn in East Aurora, as well as at the East Aurora Tops Market and the Copper Shop. You may also order tickets by mail from Roycroft Chamber Music Festival, P.O. Box 281, East Aurora, N.Y. 14052.
The two dozen or so Roycroft musicians, who assemble under the leadership of pianist Eugene Gaub and his wife, Nancy McFarland Gaub (pictured at top), are also planning a Buffalo concert at 7 p.m. Fri., June 6 at Good Shepherd Church across from the Darwin Martin House, 125 Jewett Parkway. They will play the Bridge, Francaix and Mendelssohn. Admission is $25 and includes a dessert and wine reception afterward at the Darwin Martin House.
On a Friday night in early April, Buffalo artist Stacey Robinson stood in a corner of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and gave this performance:
As you can hear from the chatter echoing through the gallery, very few people paid any attention to it.
In the brief performance, he raised many questions that have long preoccupied black artists about where they belong in the pantheon of mostly white, mostly male artists whose work makes up the majority of most museum collections.
In the talk, Robinson asked a series of increasingly agitated questions about what he sees as a lack of representation of black artists in the gallery's collection. He mentioned that the collection contains work by Carrie Mae Weems, Romare Bearden and Lorna Simpson (though curiously he did not mention the work of Kara Walker, whose mammoth temporary sculpture in Brooklyn is now the talk of the art world), but wondered aloud why the gallery's collection of work by black artists doesn't go deeper.
"Black art I'm looking for you, but I can't find you in the circulating collection at the Albright-Knox," Robinson says, addressing the work of black artists as if it is an actual person. "Am I the only one who cares that there is a lack of equal representation of Black art collected at the Albright-Knox?"
In Buffalo, one of the most segregated cities in the United States, it's rare to see a non-white face at an art opening. There are few Buffalo-based artists of color whose work is shown in local galleries. So the questions Robinson raises are relevant not only to the upper echelon of the local art world that the Albright-Knox and its collection represents, but the broader makeup of the city's creative community.
I'm posting his performance in hopes of kicking off a conversation about this stark reality. I've talked to Robinson at length about the performance and plan to follow up with someone from the Albright-Knox for a future column.
Please share your thoughts about Robinson's performance in the comment section.
Three students are the recipients of Young Musicians Scholarship Awards, given out by the Friends of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. The awards go to promising high school students who are going to be pursuing music study in college.
Duo Xu, a pianist from Williamsville East High School, was awarded $3,000. As a small girl, she made several appearances with the BPO, once playing Chopin on stage at a Holiday Pops concert conducted by Marvin Hamlisch. She is also a 2014 Amherst Symphony Orchestra scholarship winner.
Teagan Faran, a violinist also from Williamsville East High School, was awarded $2,000. She is also the winner of a Buffalo Chamber Music Society Silverman Scholarship.
Awarded $1,000 was Alexander Cousins, a cellist from Grand Island High School. He is a student of BPO Principal Cellist Roman Mekinulov.
All three students will be off to college in the fall.
Yngwie Malmsteen, neo-classical guitarist par excellence, will headline the Guitar Gods 2014 Tour, which will take over Braun's Concert Cove (11891 Main Rd., Akron) on Sunday, June 15th. Malmsteen will be joined by another legend, former Scorpions guitarist and fully tenured neo-classical solo artist Uli Jon Roth, as well as erstwhile Guns 'n' Roses picker Bumblefoot and and rock/blues/surf guitarist Gary Hoey.
Tickets are priced $25 advance, and can be found here.
In its inaugural year, a major new American prize in poetry criticism sponsored by the Chicago-based Poetry Foundation has been jointly awarded to University at Buffalo based scholar James Maynard and British Columbia based poet, critic, and publisher Peter Quartermain for their respective editions of compilations of the work of 20th century American poet Robert Duncan published by the University of California Press.
Maynard, who is Associate Curator of The Poetry Collection at UB, shared the award for his editing of "Robert Duncan: Collected Essays and Other Prose," while Quartermain was honored for his editing of "Robert Duncan: The Collected Later Poems and Plays."
Robert Duncan (1919-1988) was a key figure in 20th century American poetics associated with several of its most prominent groupings and aesthetics, from his early study at Black Mountain College, to his contributions to Donald Allen's The New American Poetry, and long term involvement in what came to be known as the San Francisco Renaissance. His manuscripts are owned by the UB Poetry Collection.
Maynard, who received his Ph.D. in English from UB in 2007 for his dissertation "Architect of Excess: Robert Duncan and the American Pragmatist Sublime," becomes the second Duncan scholar with UB connections in recent years to win or be nominated for such a major award. Buffalo area native Lisa Jarnot, who did her undergraduate work at UB, was a finalist for last year's National Book Critics Circle Award in biography for her "Robert Duncan, The Ambassador from Venus," also published in the University of California Press's Collected Writings of Robert Duncan Series.
The shortlist of finalists for the Pegasus Award also included another prominent book co-edited by a Buffalo-based scholar. D'Youville College professor Marta Werner (also a UB Ph.D. in English), was nominated for the award along with her co-editor, the poet and visual artist Jen Bervin, for their work on "The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope Poems" published by New Directions Books.