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Colin Dabkowski

Colin Dabkowski is The News' arts critic, responsible for covering visual art and theater in Western New York. Before joining The News in 2007, he worked as managing editor of McSweeney's oral history book series in San Francisco and as a freelance journalist in New Orleans.


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As parental fantasies go, there's a certain appeal to the idea of disinheriting an ungrateful child. Didn't mow the lawn like I asked? Disinherited. "Forgot" to clean up the dishes? Sorry, you are banished to Gowanda. And your share of what's left in my 401K will go to your sisters, who we like better anyway. Sure, it's a rash move. It's not without its consequenc…

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Picture director Steve Vaughan, wearing tall Wellington boots and covered head to toe in mud, clomping through a swamp in search of the perfect prop. This scene, which bore a striking resemblance to Shakespeare's famous tale of an unhinged King Lear wandering across the heath, played out early this spring in Vaughan's muddy Grand Island backyard. And while some might…

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The numbers stand 8 feet tall along the Outer Harbor, 10 hulking pieces of rusting COR-TEN steel arranged in a semicircle like some 21st-century Stonehenge. In the mind of Robert Indiana, the artist who created the piece, numbers are sacred personal symbols. Each has a personal meaning for him -- "1" corresponds to birth, "0" to oblivion -- but stands as a universal fig…

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Few things in this world are more powerful than a story well told. Stories shape our social interactions and our politics. They mold the way we view the world. Frighteningly enough, they need not be true to do so. The ancient Greeks knew all of this in their bones, which is why they spent more time than any ancient culture inventing, imagining, embellishing and, m…

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Amid Buffalo's broader public art renaissance, neighborhoods across the city are embracing murals – from simple way-finding signs to abstract compositions – as a way to reassert their historic identities and rebrand themselves in a changing city. Take the Old First Ward, one of Buffalo's oldest and proudest neighborhoods, which occupies about 20 square blocks betwee…

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It's impossible to say whether Buffalo City Hall looks better from the outside in, or the inside out. We love its striking sandstone exterior, towering over Niagara Square and chiseled with the history, industry and spirit of the Queen City. But equally impressive is its impossibly ornate interior, suffused with the symbols of Native American culture and with Art Dec…

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NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ont. — Adapting the classics of children's literature for the stage is tricky business. It requires a child's embrace of the human imagination, an expert's grasp of the tools of the theater, and the ability to fuse these disparate ideas into one cohesive story. The task is triply difficult when that stage is the Festival Theatre in Niagara-on-the-La…

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On Thursday night, the sound system in Las Vegas' T-Mobile Arena will rumble to life. The lights will dim to black. A few minutes before members of the Las Vegas Golden Knights and Washington Capitals take the ice for the fifth and possibly final game in this year's Stanley Cup final, a booming voice belonging to Buffalo actor Eileen Dugan will echo through the venue. …

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The Irish Classical Theatre Company has a knack for choosing summertime comedies with just the right amount of froth. Its latest, whipped up like some perfect theatrical cappuccino by director Josephine Hogan and her talented cast, is Oscar Wilde's "Lady Windemere's Fan." It hits just the right Wildean balance between cutting snark and probing insight into human fear an…

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A well-dressed crowd of actors, directors, designers and die-hard theater fans converged on Shea's 710 Main Theatre on June 4 for the 2017-18 Artie Awards. The annual celebration of Buffalo's diverse and hyperactive theater community is as much about community-building and collective celebration as about the individual actors and productions singled out for praise. W…

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There is perhaps no more idyllic picture of post-industrial decay in America than Silo City, a sprawling complex of dormant grain silos and rusted warehouses along the Buffalo River that has been revived by artists, architects, musicians, poets and citizens seeking new adventures in ancient surroundings. All of this is thanks to Buffalo businessman and cultural impresar…

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By 1998, Allentown was primed for an alternative to its eponymous art festival. Complaints about the festival's perceived persecution of Allentown shop owners had reached a fever pitch. The same went for criticism about organizers' opposition to musicians, buskers and other performers who naturally gravitate toward large crowds of people. "God forbid," News columnist…

Art

Back in 2000, it was shepherd's crooks. Other years it was bedazzled lawn sprinklers. There may be no accounting for taste, but we can try to account for trends. You can never quite predict exactly what the latest, hottest items at the Allentown Art Festival will be until you spot them in the crowd on festival weekend. But, based on recent trends, Allentown Villa…

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Playwright Tania Wisbar was born into crisis in 1937 Berlin. "The Red Dress," her chilling if overwrought play about the Nazi party's insidious rise to power, is her attempt to process that crisis into a crucial lesson about how fanaticism takes hold. The play, produced by Hollywood producer Jonathan Sanger, opened May 31 in the New Phoenix Theatre, where it runs thr…

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Tania Wisbar knows from experience how fascism takes root. She understands how it spreads its tendrils slowly into every corner of a vulnerable society. And she has a dire warning for area theatergoers, packaged in a play called "The Red Dress": It can happen here, too. Born in Berlin in 1937, Wisbar was the product of an unlikely relationship between her mother, …