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Arts beat: Innovative art, Mark Twain and a Musical Feast

There is only one "Great Moments in Western Civilization Postal Constituent," and it is only right that the comic periodical be celebrated upon reaching its 10th anniversary. More than 70 comics from the series will be on display for the next month at the Western New York Book Arts Center (468 Washington St.) with an opening reception from 5 to 9 p.m. Oct. 4.

The Great Moments histories are the creation of Buffalo-based artist Caitlin Cass, whose work also has appeared in The New Yorker, The Lily and The Nib. For this exhibition, Cass has added original art and, with handwritten sidebars, says, "I will analyze my own canon in all of its messy, brazen eagerness."

In a press release, Cass explains that she created the Great Moments comics in an effort "to make a history that prioritized failure instead of victory ... the anticlimactic fizzling out instead of the path to progress."

The reception is free. The exhibit will be up through Nov. 9; Book Arts is open from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

Food for thought

The chamber music series "A Musical Feast" returns at 8 p.m. Oct. 4 at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, where musicians will perform works of Johann Sebastian Bach, Lori Laitman and Gaspar Cassado. The performance will be in the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium. Tickets are $20 general, $10 for Burchfield members and $5 for students with ID. Find tickets online at burchfieldpenney.org, and see more about the upcoming season at amusicalfeast.com.

A Mark Twain moment

Buffalo scholar, author and SUNY Buffalo College professor emeritus Thomas J. Reigstad will be at the Second Reader Bookshop (1421 Hertel Ave.), from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6 for a free reading and discussion of his book "Scribblin' for a Livin': Mark Twain's Pivotal Period in Buffalo." The author will read from a newly expanded edition of the book and answer questions about the literary legend's time in Buffalo. Twain, who married a woman from upstate New York, moved to the city in 1869 and went into newspaper work. While doing his research, Reigstad found a wealth of material about Samuel Clemens that revealed much about his life as he was settling into family life and beginning his writing career.

UB's artistic polar opposites

Two exhibits have their openings this week under the auspices of the University at Buffalo Art Galleries. One centers on growing poison plants, the other on cultivating better health.

"Marlene McCarty: Into the Weeds" has an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 3 in the UB Art Gallery in the Center for the Arts on the North Campus. There also will be an artist brunch in the same location from noon to 2 p.m. Oct. 5. The UB show is one component of two installations McCarty has created to depict the conflicting relationship we have with toxic plants such as mugwort, Queen Anne's lace and jimsyn weed,  Detailed drawings of the plants are paired with seedlings McCarty has planted under grow lights.

The exhibit also includes a 45-foot-diameter living earthwork at Silo City that will house a garden of poisonous plants. The installation will be unveiled at a garden walk from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Oct. 5, followed by a reception on the site from 5 to 7 p.m. Writer Jennifer Kabat has composed an essay to accompany the garden; printed copies will be given to visitors, along with a description of the plants.

Three days later, on Oct. 8 the galleries will debut the portrait exhibit "The Future of Health in Our City," in the Conventus Building for Collaborative Medicine (1001 Main St.) at the north end entrance to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. A free public reception, from 5 to 7 p.m., opens the show, which includes conversational portraits of local residents by Charmaine Wheatley.

The artist spoke with people associated in different ways with the Medical Campus and its neighborhood to present "a visual conversation" about how groups can work together to combat problems such as homelessness, poverty, stigma and poor access to health care that can lead to sickness and chronic ailments.

In describing the images, Henry Louis Taylor Jr. of UB's Center for Urban Studies said, "These portrait are about hope; they show a dreamscape of social change. They are about the possibility of building a future city where well-being and wholeness reign."

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