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Colin Dabkowski

Colin Dabkowski is The News' arts critic, responsible for covering visual art and theater in Western New York. Before joining The News in 2007, he worked as managing editor of McSweeney's oral history book series in San Francisco and as a freelance journalist in New Orleans.


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Few have written more eloquently about abuses of authority than Junot Díaz. He took it on in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," a withering critique of American imperialism embedded in a story of aspiration and brutality. He faced it down from many directions in his short story collections "Drown," from 1996, and "This Is How Your Lo…

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"Shen Yun," the Chinese dance spectacle that has been blanketing Western New York businesses and homes with promotional material for the past few months, is returning to Shea's Performing Arts Center on May 9 and 10. Those interested in attending should note both the required dress code -- "business attire or evening wear" -- and the price points, which range from $83 t…

Gusto

Within a few weeks, the Tabernacle will be open to the public. The bar and restaurant attached to Sweet_ness 7 Café on Grant Street is a marvel. Nearly every square inch of the space has been painted by Jeremy Twiss, a 31-year-old artist who had never completed a painting before Sweet_ness 7 owner and Buffalo booster Prish Moran hired him to work on this project. …

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In 16 years together at WGRZ, co-anchors Maryalice Demler and Scott Levin have developed more than a bit of chemistry. So it came as no surprise that when they took to the stage of the Ellicott Creek Playhouse Saturday night to appear in a fundraising performance of A.R. Gurney's "Love Letters," they inhabited their roles as effortlessly as if they were reading the even…

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Great theater isn't about big budgets. It isn't about Broadway-level belters, opulent sets or triple-threats. It certainly isn't about $150 ticket prices. And it never has been. What constitutes great theater, on Buffalo's diverse and remarkable scene, is a fierce commitment to getting it right, the smart deployment of talent and enough time to properly rehearse so t…

Art

Each of Philip Koch's oil paintings, on view in a long-planned exhibition in the Burchfield Penney Art Center, is an invitation to get lost. Like Edward Hopper's oils, they employ sunlight as an intoxicant, bathing rural landscapes in impractical washes of illumination that beg the viewer: "Explore me." His most recent work, while keeping one foot in what Koch calls …

Art

Jeremy Twiss just needed a job. So, when the wayward 26-year-old walked into Sweet_ness 7 Café on Grant Street one day in 2013, he told owner Prish Moran he was willing to perform any task she required. "What are your strengths?" Moran asked Twiss during their first encounter. "Well, I hate people," he replied. They both broke down laughing. And just like th…

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Some stories seem inextricable from the eras in which they were written. The cast and creative team of the Lancaster Opera House's production of "The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd" did their best to thrust this fusty period piece into the present. But despite its clever contemporary framing and fine performances, the anachronistic tone and heavy-handed…

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In 2007, Drew Piatek was comfortably ensconced in the theater department of the University at Buffalo. He and his fellow students had developed close a camaraderie that seemed unshakable, often spending long days and nights together as they learned the craft of acting and directing. Then, in April of that year, an armed student walked onto the campus of the Virginia …

Art

A large gallery that suffered ceiling damage in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery's 1905 building is slated to reopen Wednesday at 10 a.m. after extensive repairs. Gallery staff noticed a crack in the plaster coating of the ceiling last month, prompting a decision to replace the entire ceiling's suspension system. The works in that gallery and an adjoining space constituted…

Art

This may be the biggest rent party Buffalo has ever seen. For seven hours on April 14, 54 local music acts will fill the Tri-Main Center's 525,000 square feet with every imaginable strain of music. Some 55 local artists will transform every corner of the six-floor former windshield-wiper factory into their own personal exhibition spaces. Of course, there will be a ro…

Art

There is a kind of sacred, church-like feeling to Buffalo's post-industrial landscape that you can't quite grasp until you walk into it. Buffalo photographer Bruce Jackson, not unreasonably, has compared the city's grain elevators to the great cathedrals of Europe. Artists of every discipline have been inspired by these concrete buildings and rusting warehouses to write…

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Dianne Dwyer Modestini was sure she had a masterpiece on her hands. Shortly after beginning a meticulous, six-year restoration process in 2005, she and her husband, the late art restorer Mario Modestini, were "100 percent convinced" the painting they had been asked to restore was the work of Leonardo da Vinci. Her colleagues agreed, and last year, the painting was so…

Obituaries

An important piece of Robert T. Buck's legacy stands gleaming on Niagara Square, a tensile structure of polished stainless steel set against the muddy concrete backdrop of Buffalo City Court. The sculpture, Kenneth Snelson's "Coronation Day," was installed in 1980 after several years of controversy and political squabbles over its commission and a suggestion from th…

Art

In Buffalo, we mark the change of seasons with certain rituals. For Polish Catholics, Polish former Catholics or anyone who enjoys our company (and beer), it's Dyngus Day. For others, it's a serene stroll through Delaware Park, already filled with the sound of chirping birds. But if you're an art lover, chances are you associate the first Allentown First Fridays gallery…