The third annual City of Night interactive arts party took place on the grounds of Silo City on Childs Street in Buffalo’s Old First Ward on Saturday. This was an opportunity to set foot on these industrial grounds that offer breathtaking views of several grain elevators, the Buffalo River and all its chugging boating activity. The event took place where the river takes a big bend, and it nearly surrounds the party.
There are so many artful City of Night offerings that a program – replete with map – is not only necessary but critical to not miss anything: they were free (like the event itself) and handed out at the gate. Plenty of walking was involved between the four buildings with installations, information booths, and performances happening throughout. In the dreamy open spaces, 11 food trucks were parked in rows, stages were set up for bands, and outdoor art surprised at every turn. Tables and chairs were scattered throughout, filled by families and groups of friends eating and resting.
City of Night is a collaborative undertaking by members of Emerging Leaders in the Arts Buffalo (ELAB) and legions of their volunteers. Rick Smith, owner of the land and CEO of Rigidized Metals just down the street, cruised around in a utility cart.
“It’s been a great night,” he said. “I’m proud that Buffalo finally believes in itself. Finally we can move forward.”
There was a bike valet service. Two volunteers in day-glo orange T-shirts, Komani Lundquist and Bridge Rauch, were checking bikes, propping them up on oversized sawhorses. They were ready for upwards of 500 bicycles.
Just past the bike valet, a sign listing rules included, “Treat this historic site with respect.” A merchandise table offered “locally sourced” T-shirts of organic cotton, tote bags, and hand-crank LED flashlights produced in central New York, according to merchandise coordinator Beth Okonczak.
“We are offering flashlights this year because of how dark it gets here,” she said. “Some people complained about being nervous about walking along the grounds.”
Inside the 464 Gallery-sponsored Emerging Art Fair in the American Warehouse, Marcus Wise, ELAB co-founder and proprietor of the Amherst Street gallery, was walking the floor. All around was art activity, viewing and commerce. Live painting was happening along a wall of the building. Kelly Kresconko was working on a piece that she planned for, and sketched out, prior to City of Night.
“The first year of City of Night we hoped for 1,000 people – that was our major target. It’s grown exponentially,” Wise said. “We had 3,500 the first year, 12,000 last year, and this year we think we’re going to get 15,000 to 20,000 visitors.
“We’re using more spaces in Silo City this year, there is more room to move around. And we’ve really amped up the art fair,” added Wise.
Wax Museum Radio was broadcasting from the building, their tag line – “Your city, your sound.” Deejay Rick Vallone of Buffalo explained that Wax Museum Radio is a collaborative, online radio station with 30 deejays from Buffalo and Rochester streaming beats live (www.waxmuseumradio.net).
VIP ticket holders, who paid $100 for a private affair the previous night, had access during both nights to a lounge set up in the warehouse, tricked out by interior designer Suzanne Eberhardt who created cozy seating areas. Vintage furniture, candles and sculptural pieces made a cozy landing place within the former industrial space – dank corners lurking beyond.