In the 1970s, as few in the Western New York art community could forget, Buffalo was a hotbed for experimentation in the nascent field of media arts.
The city's reputation then and now as an incubator for adventurous creative minds and cultural movements may not have come to be without the contribution of one key figure. Gerald O'Grady, the founder of the University at Buffalo's Center for Media Study and the non-profit Media Study/Buffalo, whose influence remains everywhere apparent in Buffalo's visual arts community and far beyond, is the subject of a four-day festival running Nov. 12 to 15 in the Burchfield Penney Art Center.
Burchfield Penney Director Anthony Bannon, who as a critic for The Buffalo News was an early champion of O'Grady's work and that of his colleagues during that formative era, will interview O'Grady at the center at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 14. That interview will be followed by another discussion between O'Grady and media critic John Minkowski at 2 p.m.
Bracketing those discussions are film screenings featuring works by Center for Media faculty members past and present, musical performances from the likes of A Musical Feast and the Small Appliance Orchestra. A full schedule is available here.
"O'Grady's influence is worldwide, recently establishing centers for visual learning in China and South America," Bannon said in a Burchfield Penney release, praising O'Grady for his role in fostering the careers of countless curators and artists who went on to build impressive resumes of their own. "These leaders continue to pass along a passion for and belief in new ways of making sound, image, word and meaning. A good number of artists, too, were influenced by the liberation of this new way of seeing and using image and sound."