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CRITIC'S CHOICE

VIDEO
Personal touch
Hilla Lulu Lin, a young Israeli artist who is completing her first artist residency project at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, will show the results of her monthlong stay in Buffalo in a video screening next Friday and an exhibition opening Sept. 18 at Hallwalls.

"Sunny Side Up" will offer three new videos, a series of computer-generated images and an installation. At turns humorous and morbid, Lin's work is always highly personal. Some of the digital images seem, at first look, to show the artist in somewhat masochistic situations. Her installation for the show is a mix-and-match affair in which visitors can choose wall colors, a host of everyday objects -- feathers, eggs and various hooks are prominent -- and photographs featuring close-ups of the artist's hand, eye and mouth. A video screening of the new work will take place next Friday in Hallwalls, followed the next night by a reception for the artist from 8 to 11.

Also opening on Sept. 18 will be "The Void, the Outline and the Arrow," a performance-based video made by New York City artist Johnna MacArthur. The video, made in Buffalo during a visit by the artist last winter, will attempt to define the evolution of women in relationship to labor.

All events will take place in Hallwalls, in the Tri-Main Building, 2495 Main St. (835-7362). The exhibition will continue on view through Oct. 29.

-- Richard Huntington
POP MUSIC
In the zone
Lenny Kravitz's music offers a heavy dose of funk-laced rock and hip-hop. You can hear it in his Grammy Award-winning song "Fly Away," or his remake of "American Woman," the '60s Guess Who hit heard in "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me." Kravitz added a Jimi Hendrix psychedelic guitar flavor, and the song has helped push his current album, "5," over the 2 million mark in sales.

Kravitz grew up in Manhattan as the son of a racially mixed marriage between TV producer Sy Kravitz and the late actress Roxie Roker, who played Helen in "The Jeffersons." In his formative years he listened to a variety of music, and he rejects easy musical categorization. Concerning his new album, he said in a press statement that "I have no preconceptions, no expectations. When I made the album I felt like a kid with a box of crayons. And I used all the colors. I'm just flowing and it's a blessing."

Smash Mouth, like Kravitz, has had a summer hit, "All Star." The song is filled with ska and pop hooks and enhanced by the goofy lyrics but appealing vocals of lead singer Steve Harwell. That helped Smash Mouth beat the sophomore jinx with its current album, "Astro Lounge." A couple of years ago Smash Mouth burst on the scene with a CD and smash single, "Walking on the Sun." The band proved this year it has staying power. Lenny Kravitz and Smash Mouth play Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Marine Midland Arena. Buckcherry also performs.

-- Anthony Violanti
READING
She's electric
Some things about Lauren Belfer that you might not know even now: She is a teacher's daughter, which is hardly a surprise. Equally unsurprising is that her alma mater, the Buffalo Seminary, gave her the school's very first history prize (and considering the number of years the school has existed, that is no small thing).

In that most millennial year 1999, Lauren Belfer is the winner, in their hearts, of any history prize an entire city's readers might bestow. It didn't take much perspicacity to know that her first novel, "City of Light" -- much of it set in a fictional version of the Buffalo Seminary -- would take the city by storm. And it has. The forecast is for no letup, either. In a Rust Belt city that usually looks to football fields and hockey rinks for glory, Belfer -- single-handedly -- gave us a prize chunk of our urban history, a turn-of-the-century era in which, as Belfer says so memorably, this city was the Silicon Valley of its day. With Niagara's roar so close -- and promising so much hydroelectric power -- Buffalo was thought to be the first place the American future would happen.

That the novel that did all of that was one heck of a read and, in its way, an eminently serious consideration of some very American themes only added to its importance in this city's cultural life.

Though she has long lived in Manhattan with her daughter and lawyer husband, few native daughters have seemed more deserving. She comes to Allen Hall on the University at Buffalo South Campus at 8 p.m. next Friday to read from her exceptional work, answer questions and bask a little in the cosmopolitan affections that, perhaps, no other Buffalo cultural figure earned so richly in 1999. The event will be carried live on WBFO-FM, one of the station's bigger contributions to Buffalo life lately. A win-win situation all around.

-- Jeff Simon

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