AAlong with the Central Terminal and the Adam Mickiewicz Dramatic Circle, Buffalo's Dnipro building is joining a modest cultural renaissance on the city's sprawling East Side.
The building, which has served as the community center for Buffalo's Ukrainian population since 1955, recently played host to an environmental theater piece by local playwright Dan Shanahan. And on Saturday, the lavishly decorated space -- normally used for weddings and Ukrainian cultural events -- will host this year's incarnation of "Peepshow," the growing annual fundraiser and art party for the Squeaky Wheel Media Arts Center.
The event will feature about 30 artists, joined by a healthy dose of live music and dancing, along with a burlesque performance, drag show and various and sundry other activities.
Much in the same vein as Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center's "Artists and Models" event, "Peepshow" is designed as a wide-ranging collection of art installations that tend to be big on scale but short on the feigned formality that accompanies many white-walled gallery and museum shows.
Projects at this year's "Peepshow" feature a healthy dose of performance and interactive art, including a monologue by artist Kyle Butler compiled from romantic comedies; a sort of typewriter-inspired letter exchange by Aimee Buyea; a "Post-Secret"-inspired activity from Jax Deluca and Tristan Trump; and a performance involving tar and clay by Frederick White Jones.
Jones' piece, which involves a 3-foot-tall egglike sculpture he created, will see the University at Buffalo graduate student covering himself with white clay in a performance meant to reflect on racial themes.
The piece and performance, Jones said, deals with "identity and race, being of mixed background. Also the symbolic color of the white clay and the black tar, which are representative of race but also of life and death dualities."
For Victoria Bradbury, a student at Alfred University studying electronic integrated arts, Squeaky Wheel's "Peepshow" theme fit directly into her project. Bradbury has constructed a huge peep box with holes for viewers to peer into on opposite sides. Exactly what's inside the box, Bradbury wisely wouldn't say ("If I told you, who would look?"), but she did go as far as to note that it involves a video component.
"I'm drawing from Victorian peep boxes and the idea of the itinerant performer," Bradbury said, adding that she became interested in the idea of wandering performers after considering the effect of the current housing crisis on people who've been forced from their homes.
She sees "Peepshow," and large-scale art events like it, as an opportunity to present a piece of work in rough-draft form and to seek ideas for ways to improve it as the public interacts with the art.
"As an artist, wandering around, watching that happen, you can get feedback immediately and gain a really fast understanding of the piece and how it's working," Bradbury said. "I'll be sort of anonymous, but then I can also interact with people, so it's a much more casual setting. I don't feel the kind of pressure I would feel in a gallery setting. It can be more of an open dialogue."
The evening will also feature music by the Skiffle Minstrels, Kendall, Bev-Beverly, Ilya's Belly Dance Troupe, drag queens from Club Marcella and the burlesque troupe the Stripteasers.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Dnipro, 562 Genesee St.
TICKETS: $12 presale or $15 at the door
INFO: 884-7172 or www.squeaky.org