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UB can make a significant investment in downtown Buffalo by setting up displays of student art and architecture models in vacant Main Street storefronts.

That's the contention of Peter Nowak, a city resident and former UB architecture instructor who has raised his idea with university faculty and administrators.

"The point is, you have a presence in the city," Nowak said.

Members of the art and architecture departments say the idea is a good one, but there are questions of cost and staffing. City officials say they'd be happy to work with Nowak and the university.

David Granville, executive director of the Buffalo Arts Commission, noted the success of 1998's "Main Street/Art Street," which saw art displayed in downtown storefronts, and last year's "Herd About Buffalo."

"Public art has come to the fore very strongly," Granville said.

Nowak said displaying student work downtown gives students a more prominent site for their work and might draw more people there. Further, professors could hold lunch-hour talks in a storefront lecture hall, he said.

"There is supposed to be a strong (UB) relationship with the city, and there isn't," Nowak said. "It's about time they did something about that."

Robert G. Shibley, director of the Urban Design program, said architecture students have done research and design work meant to improve housing in inner-city Buffalo neighborhoods.

"I like a lot what we're doing now, and it's not enough. We can do more," Shibley said.

The art department tries to work with local groups to host art exhibitions in city venues, said Adele Henderson, chairwoman of the art department.

Setting up such a display requires staff resources and money to pay for utilities and for possible rehabilitation and rent of the space, she said.

"I don't think people realize how complicated these things are, and how much it takes to mount an exhibition," she said.

What has live llamas, ostrich costumes and an organ grinder who doesn't use a monkey?

UB's Panamania celebration, which was held Saturday and Sunday.

Organizers lined up some llamas. "We were hoping to have had real ostriches," said Michele Gallant, the special projects assistant at the College of Arts and Sciences.

She said she called three ostrich farms but never heard back from them. Gallant said she believes it's because the European outbreak of mad cow disease has made ostrich meat more popular, and the farms' ostriches are feeding that demand.

But UB did rent ostrich suits for children to wear in Panamania races.

As for the organ grinder, Gallant said, he always works solo.


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