Colin Dabkowski - The Buffalo News

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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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At a chaotic time of year, in a chaotic period of history, there's something to be said for the comfort of old stories well told. In the New Phoenix Theatre, one of the city's best storytellers has uncovered new charms embedded in one of the world's oldest morality tales. Kelli Bockock-Natale, the theater's artistic director, has added a patina of contemporary refere…

Local News

July 19, 1930 to Nov. 11, 2017 Laverne Clay, a popular Buffalo actor and director who fostered generations of theater artists in Buffalo's African American community and beyond, died Nov. 1o from complications of congestive heart failure. He was 87. Mr. Clay had an outsized impact on Buffalo's theater community, helping to guide companies like the Paul Robeson Theatr…

Art

For much of the year, art buying can be intimidating affair. Strolling into a stark, white-walled gallery and perusing an eye-popping price list requires its own kind of nerve, and many of us feel unequipped -- and under-resourced. Fortunately for art lovers, this pretense falls away around the holidays, when galleries turn their attention to every retailer's favorit…

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Buffalo has entered a new golden age of public art. Starting with the installation of Casey Riordan Millard's "Shark Girl" sculpture in 2014, the city has seen a seemingly nonstop infusion of murals, sculptures and community-based public art projects. The new push has been spearheaded by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and its ambitious public art curator Aaron Ott, bu…

Art

Japanese art superstar Takashi Murakami, whose sumptuous, high-decibel paintings are on view in the sculpture court of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, caused a minor local social media sensation last week. Pictures of Murakami -- clothed in a double-breasted jacket of red lamé, a patchwork skirt and a plush headpiece that made it appear as if he was being consumed by a …

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Chances are you've never seen a "Cinderella" quite like this before. The New Phoenix Theatre's take on the classic fairy tale has been retooled and reimagined by innovative director Kelli Bocock-Natale. Based on a version of the show Bocock-Natale wrote for children while she was in graduate school, the new twist on the story will feature plenty of physical theater and …

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In the Central Library's second-floor exhibition space, a wall papered with reproductions of World War I-era posters commands visitors to take a closer look. The posters, drawn from the library's collection of 2,000 pieces of propaganda printed during the war, implore Buffalonians to dig deep to fund the war effort. They urge citizens to conserve food, knit socks and sw…

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Rarely has the notion of war seemed more quaint or attractive than in "South Pacific," Rodgers and Hammerstein's propaganda poster of a love story set on a remote Pacific island during World War II. And quaint is the overwhelming feeling of David Bondrow's production of the classic show, which employs a cast of Western New Yorkers and out-of-towners to mixed effect. …

Art

After facing pressure from preservationists over plans to radically alter a beloved building by Gordon Bunshaft, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery announced Friday that it will consider building on a different site. "The museum and its development team will re-examine an expansion option on the north and northwest side of the campus connected to the 1905 Building to determi…

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This nun can really work a room. Nonie Newton-Riley, the Second City-trained actress starring in the Catholic-themed comedy "Late Nite Catechism 3: Til Death Do Us Part," is not an actual nun. But you would hardly know that from the visceral reactions of the crowd of former Catholic school students, lapsed churchgoers and the odd pagan who attended the show's opening in…

Art

More than two decades ago, the Buffalo-born artist Laylah Ali had her first solo exhibition in Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center. She would go on to wider acclaim in the art world, with critics and collectors alike drawn to her narrative-rich paintings and drawings that seem to reflect struggles over identity. Ali, who has remained closely affiliated with Hallwalls …

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Sarah Myers doesn't like to overthink her work. Her intricate drawings of towering trees are simple reflections of natural beauty. Her exuberant, pigment-based paintings, exhibited some years ago in Hi-Temp Fabrication, were an attempt to bore down to the natural elements of painting and paint itself. Since that show, Myers has been practicing an even more distilled …

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On the afternoon of Nov. 9, 1967, as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Buffalo-bound plane sat on the tarmac at the Atlanta Municipal Airport, the pilot's voice crackled over the intercom with ominous news. The plane, as King recounted in a speech later that evening in Kleinhans Music Hall, had been the subject of a bomb threat. It was the latest of dozens of threats…

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For some, the mention of Arthur Miller’s 1953 play “The Crucible” will call to mind the halting voices of timid teenagers reciting Miller’s lines in high school English class. For others, it recalls a dark period in American history, when neighbor turned against neighbor amid a growing tide of anti-communist paranoia. And for others still, its unmistakable Mc…

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In 2011, Mara Odette-Guerrero and Rick Williams arrived in Buffalo to chase an unlikely dream. The couple wanted to establish a link between two regions -- Buffalo and Cuernavaca, Mexico -- that seemingly had little in common but their rich and diverse cultures. The link took the form Casa de Arte, an unorthodox gallery in a converted Allentown garage that has served…