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Whenever artists in postwar America wanted to get back to the basic problems of art, they turned to black and white. In the late '40s Willem De Kooning did some of his greatest paintings in ordinary black-and-white enamel, the paint you'd buy at any hardware store. Jackson Pollock and Robert Motherwell deserted color at critical moments. And of course Franz Kline built his whole career on black-and-white paintings. The habit seems to have stuck. Black-and-white painting -- and sculpture -- have become a mainstay of American art. "Essence and Persuasion: The Power of Black and White" is a diverse -- wildly diverse -- exhibition of black-and-white art opening this weekend at the Anderson Gallery on Martha Jackson Place. It leaps the generations and the Atlantic, including everyone from Pollock and Kline to Jean Arp and the Russian constructivist Kazimir Malevich. The names read like a history of modern art -- De Kooning, Louise Nevelson, Sam Francis, Jonathan Borofsky, Frank Stella, Jasper Johns and many others, even composer John Cage. Joining these towering giants are area artists who work in black-and-white -- Stefan Gesek, Thor Eric Paulson, Patrick Robideau, Jackie Felix and others. The show begins Saturday with an opening from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and continues on view through May 13.

-- Richard Huntington


On Wednesday at 8 p.m. Fredonia State College's King Concert Hall will be host, for the first time since the 1980s, to the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. It will be a collaborative concert, with Fredonia faculty members Cynthia Katsarelis conducting and Julie Newell as soprano soloist in Mozart's "Exsultate Jubilate," whose brilliant concluding "Alleluia" is often excerpted and sung by itself. Newell has appeared with the BPO many times, and Katsarelis, who is conductor of both the Fredonia College Symphony Orchestra and the Hillman Opera, is also no stranger to the Philharmonic, having recently conducted one of the Fisher-Price Discovery Series concerts. Before joining the Fredonia faculty, Katsarelis had been the first woman to serve as conducting assistant to the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras. To complete the program she will lead the orchestra in Mozart's Symphony No. 29 in A Major and Aaron Copland's classic piece of Americana, "Appalachian Spring."

-- Herman Trotter


Opera Hamilton concludes its 1994-95 season with three performances, this weekend and next, of the same opera with which the company debuted in 1979, Puccini's "La Boheme." The production will reunite Artistic Director/Conductor Daniel Lipton with stage director Fabrizio Melano, whose collaboration in last season's "Macbeth" by Verdi was such a chilling dramatic and musical experience. In the lead roles of Mimi and Rodolfo, Lipton has chosen Canadian soprano Eilana Lappalainen, a clear hit in Hamilton's earlier productions of "Butterfly" and "Lucia de Lammermoor," and American tenor Keith Buhl, making his Canadian debut. The vitally important secondary roles of Marcello and Musetta will be sung by baritone John Fanning and soprano Sally Dibblee. Performances will be in the Great Hall of Hamilton Place at 8 p.m. Saturday, Thursday and April 8.

-- Herman Trotter


Gardner McKay who wrote "Sea Marks," a play about the sheltered Irish on an tiny island off the Atlantic coast, also wrote a tense mystery thriller, among other plays. The mystery play is "Toyer," and it has been selected by the Actors Workshop of Western New York for its next production, opening tonight at 8. Fred Keller directs Christina Rausa and Roger Keicher in the play that has performances Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. in the Cafe Theatre in Snyder Square, Harlem Road and Main Street, Amherst.

-- Terry Doran

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