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.


Comedy

The space between holidays is usually quiet on Buffalo's arts scene, a time to digest the year's cultural output and ready ourselves for the offerings of the new year. One notable exception comes this weekend from "Babushka," a periodic improv comedy show devised by Buffalo actors and Eclectic Improv Company veterans Don Gervasi and Tod Benzin. The show, different ev…

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It's easy to forget that one of the world's great natural wonders sits casually rumbling in our own backyard. Sometimes we need artists to remind us of the wonders around us that remain hidden in plain sight. Through their peculiar filters, something as familiar as The Falls can become strange and wondrous again. The bifurcated waterfall has always held a mysterious …

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If you're feeling overwhelmed by the physical, mental and financial demands of the season -- and few of us aren't -- there's a cheap supply of stress relief in abundant supply this time of year. It comes in the form of exhibitions in area galleries and museums, many of which remain open during this holiday week to provide intellectual nourishment to the exhausted masses…

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NIAGARA FALLS -- After eight years of planning, plenty of controversy and more than $600,000, Niagara Falls has installed its first major piece of public art in decades. The piece – long delayed by planning, funding and installation issues – is meant to mark the 100th anniversary of the Boundary Waters Treaty between America and Canada in 2009. But it has been greeted w…

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Loriene Bridgett moved to Buffalo in January with big dreams and a small budget. The Brooklyn native, eager to start a new life after surviving a bus accident in 2015, settled into an apartment near East Delavan Avenue and Grider Street to begin her job search. But she soon learned her prospects were bleak: Without a car, Bridgett couldn’t reach the suburban customer se…

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The latest round of grants from the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council will fund a wide range of cultural projects, ranging from major renovations of cultural destinations in Erie and Niagara counties to new part-time positions at smaller theaters and galleries. The grants, announced on Thursday, are part of $68.8 million distributed to groups around…

Art

In the center panel of a triptych by Buffalo painter Rodney Taylor sits a stout little cabin surrounded by a huddle of scorched trees. The cabin belongs to a slave, Taylor explained. And it appears to be on fire. The first panel in the triptych depicts a dark and foreboding patch of woods, through which a visitor would presumably have to travel on his way to the cabi…

Art

Many artists work their entire careers to create work that connects to some elemental part of their psyche. Daniel Maysonet and Jim Bilger do so almost as a matter of instinct, eschewing filters, fuss and artifice to create paintings that directly reflect their questions and concerns about the world. If one goal of art is to highlight the infinite complexity and unpr…

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Studio executives often have bad ideas. This was the case one day in the early 1990s, late in the development of "The Lion King," when Disney boss Jeffrey Katzenberg insisted on shoehorning a comic version of "Stayin' Alive" into the 1994 film. Co-director Roger Allers and writer Irene Mecchi were not on board with Katzenberg's suggestion for a comic song sung by Tim…

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In 1997, Disney's production of "The Lion King" opened on Broadway, redefining the visual possibilities of the form and ushering in an era of Disney dominance on the Great White Way. The path for its success was partly paved by Disney's Broadway adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast" in 1993, but its unprecedented success opened the door for a stream of  Disney screen-to-…

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In the past 35 years, Buffalo has experienced its share of ravages and revivals. Back in the winter of 1982, when Buffalo director Neal Radice launched his annual production of "A Christmas Carol," AM&As and its elaborate window displays still drew shoppers downtown. The clanging Metro Rail had yet to appear on Main Street. A one-bedroom apartment in Allentown went …

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Every family has an aesthete hanging around somewhere -- maybe down in the basement painting a portrait, maybe up in the attic flipping through "Art in America." Fortunately for these TV-eschewing, non-sports-loving fringe figures we all know and love, 2017 has been a fine year for writing on culture. This is especially true at a time when culture is changing at an unpr…

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Among regional museums, the Burchfield Penney Art Center has distinguished itself by casting an unusually wide net. Since shortly after the time of its founding more than 50 years ago, the center has been driven by the philosophy of its namesake -- one that finds artistic potential in hidden places, or hidden in plain sight. This idea is very much at play in "Stay Go…

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For decades, Buffalo's theater scene and college theater programs have produced a steady stream of performers who pick up the necessary tricks in the 716 before going on to wider fame. Many of them return from time to time for the odd fundraiser, speech or honor bestowed upon them by the community they left behind. But few return as often, or with as much fresh material…

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The circle of life is circling back to Buffalo. The theatrical adaptation of "The Lion King," one of the most technically and visually innovative musicals of the past quarter-century, returns to Shea's Performing Arts Center this week for a monthlong run. It last played Buffalo in 2011. The production, based on the 1994 animated film and conceived by director Julie T…