Colin Dabkowski, The Buffalo News
print logo

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.


Diana Huey, the "Little Mermaid" star whose struggle with anti-Asian racism has sparked a national conversation about diversity in the theater, doesn't usually get stagefright. But on Tuesday night in Shea's Performing Arts Center, the butterflies returned. Huey found herself with a new case of nerves as she faced a packed house of theatergoers whose sky-high expectati…

When audiences leave New Era Field on Wednesday night, chances are they'll be humming "Sweet Child O' Mine," "Welcome to the Jungle" or any number of other Guns N' Roses hits. Axl Rose, Slash and the band that reunited last year after nearly a quarter-century break deserve most of the credit for lodging that song in your head. But save some of it for the crew of about 2…

For every great artist, there comes a moment of revelation that sends echoes through the rest of their career. If you're lucky, like Charles Burchfield was, that moment comes early, leaving you decades to develop and perfect your work. For the great watercolor painter, that moment came in 1917 when moved back home to Salem, Ohio after attending art school in Cleveland. …

Since its founding in 2003, Torn Space Theater has sought to bring audiences to the edge of their comfort zones. The company's productions have sometimes required audiences to traipse through derelict industrial spaces, sometimes wearing dust masks or white handkerchiefs. Its summer series of Silo City performances have become increasingly complex and impressive, someti…

When rising rents forced Michael Mulley out of his pint-sized art space on Allen Street in 2015, he took his art to the streets. Mulley's "Art Under the Stars" event, launched in September of that year, was an effort to remain part of the neighborhood and its monthly gallery walk without owning a physical space. It was immensely popular, drawing crowds of revelers to…

Diana Huey doesn't seek out negative social feedback. But too often, it finds her. That's what happened one recent day in Memphis, where Japanese-born Huey was set to perform the role of Ariel in a touring production of "The Little Mermaid" at the historic Orpheum Theatre. Before the show, scrolling through Facebook, she came across outraged comments from Disney fans…

Cultural organizations in Western New York pump more than $352 million into the local economy every year, according to a new report from the advocacy group Americans for the Arts and the Buffalo-based Arts Services Initiative. The report, released Monday, studied 126 cultural organizations in Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Allegany counties. It found that th…

Disney stories have a way of deepening on their way from screen to stage. Take "The Little Mermaid," which comes to Shea's Performing Arts Center on Aug. 15. In the Disney film, Ariel, the restless mermaid who wants desperately to live among humans, is rather one-dimensional. Her story is pinned largely to a male love interest, who motivates her to leave her aquatic lif…

We've heard of viral photos. Viral videos. Viral tweets. But a viral poem? That hadn't really happened, in any earth-shattering way, until last summer. That's when a heart-rending poem by Ohio-based writer Maggie Smith began its tear across our social media feeds, leaving hundreds of thousands of readers in a state of amazement that someone they had never met had render…

A 3,000-pound man with a heart-shaped hole in his chest will soon greet visitors to the Outer Harbor and boaters on Lake Erie. "Flat Man," a 30-foot metal statue by the late sculptor Larry Griffis Jr. that has long been a favorite of visitors to Griffis Sculpture Park in East Otto, will be re-installed along the Outer Harbor's Greenway Nature Trail in early September. …

It's always a useful exercise to wonder how far a man can travel on the strength of his delusions. A vexed and perplexed Matt Witten asks this question from a hundred angles as the title character in Saul Elkin's savvy production of "Macbeth" running through Aug. 20 in Delaware Park. And the answer comes, as it must in this most morally clear-cut Shakespearean tragedy, …

Jeffrey Gundlach, the multi-billionaire bond trader who is funding the expansion of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, joined Twitter on May 8. He follows no one. His bio lists him as a fan of the Bills, art and truth. And he has sent out only 70 tweets since launching his account. But if you want to get a sense of the Buffalo-born philanthropist's personality, his Tw…

That pall now descending on the western edge of Delaware Park is not a rain cloud — at least, we hope not. It is instead the ominous mood of "Macbeth," Shakespeare's classic tale of sound and fury, set to open July 27 in a Shakespeare in Delaware Park production directed by Saul Elkin. Compared to the most recent Shakespeare in Delaware Park production of the show, an…

The Buffalo Infringement Festival, a sprawling display of art, theater and music from Buffalo's creative underground, returns this week for an 11-day stretch of unbridled strangeness. This year's iteration, which runs from July 27 to Aug. 6, includes some 730 individual performances, 50 art installations, 85 venues and 37 open busking and performing events. The festi…

Blank walls of Buffalo: Your days are numbered. We are in the thick of high mural season, when artists armed with buckets of primer and cans of spray paint fan out across the city to turn monochromatic walls into canvases bursting with color. Some of the murals are in prominent spots. Others are hidden. So if hunting for new public art sounds like a good time to you,…