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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Few American songwriters were more prolific or successful than Irving Berlin, the Russian-Jewish immigrant whose songs embodied the rhythm, spirit and optimism of his adopted country. You may have heard of a little ditty called "God Bless America," which Berlin wrote in the dawning days of World War I and revised 20 years later into an anthem that still endures. As w…

Art

Buffalo-born billionaire and philanthropist Jeffrey Gundlach has pledged an additional $10 million to fund the Albright-Knox Art Gallery's expansion, and he purchased a house near the gallery that he plans to renovate. The pledge and home purchase, first reported by WIVB-TV and confirmed by Albright-Knox director Janne Sirén, further solidified Gundlach's already histor…

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In the Currier and Ives postcard that is Niagara-on-the-Lake in wintertime, there is one significant drawback: the dormancy of the Shaw Festival. It seems a shame that up to this point wintertime visits to the town have offered little more than window-shopping for holiday trinkets, sipping local wines in front roaring fireplaces and eating haute cuisine behind picturesq…

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When it comes to Christmas classics, few productions tug harder at our nostalgic heartstrings than " A Charlie Brown Christmas." And just on time, Theater of Youth opens its production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” on Dec. 2. Suitable for nostalgic adults and young “Charlie Brown” neophytes alike, this is an adaptation of the 1965 animated TV special, which in turn was…

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Until very recently, the term "rape culture" carried little weight in popular culture. It was often dismissed by male pundits or ridiculed as the incendiary overreaction of a feminist elite. But then came Harvey Weinstein. Then came Kevin Spacey. Then came Charlie Rose. And now comes New York City-based performer Asia Gagnon, who will present her performance "The Kin…

Art

Artists who trained the academic tradition and the American gallery system almost always struggle to connect their work to the broader culture. At the same time, artists who wouldn't be caught dead within 100 feet of an MFA program sometimes aspire to the rarefied environs -- and especially the price points -- a traditional gallery can provide. This paradoxical push and…

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Every year, roughly in sync with the first flakes of lake effect, a predictable flurry of holiday shows descends on local stages. The longest-running and most beloved of these is Alleyway Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol,” which will launch its 35th year on Dec. 8. But those jonesing for an early fix of Christmas are in luck, with the opening of a productio…

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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 d…

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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. …