Monday, August 19, 2013

City of Light: Silo City Buffalo, NY

I witnessed this extraordinary one day event on Saturday amongst the massive concrete and steel grain elevators on the Buffalo, NY waterfront.  I was shocked and giddy!

According to the City of Night website... CITY of NIGHT is an annual, multi-disciplinary event, this year held on August 17th. Key themes include art, history, culture and sustainability. The "Silo City" complex of grain elevators plays host on the Buffalo River, which sets the historical tone and informs the art installations, musical performances, fine art fair, and site tours. City of Night represents Buffalo's incredibly diverse cultural scene with a wide variety of music, dance, sound installation, fashion, and a community art project for all to engage in. We strive to become an ever more eco-conscious event, with local environmental non-profits represented, we encourage recycling and composting, and solar-powered energy! Food truck delights, beverages and CITY of NIGHT-themed merchandise will be available for purchase. The event is free to attend and open to people of all ages and backgrounds. Proceeds benefit the coordinating organization, the Emerging Leaders in the Arts Buffalo (ELAB), a chapter of Americans for the Arts

Here are some thoughts...
  • How in the world did the organizers, Dana Saylor (events-coordinator), Marcus L. Wise (president of ELAB), Marissa Lehner (coordinator of site-specific installations), Tara Sasiadek (vice-president of ELAB), Leslie Fineberg, John Furman, and other members of the Emerging Leaders in the Arts in Buffalo (, cut through all the red tape and turn this industrial site into a massive art and music party?  The fact that this event even took place was a huge success.
  • There was a great variety of art, from stark minimalism to blacklight velvet paintings.  Somehow the three hundred foot high, million tons of concrete, held it all together.
  • For the size of the event and all its component parts (art performances, installations, craft booths, music stage, beer/wine tents, food trucks, merchandise tables, porta-potties, parking, bike racks, garbage, recycling) the event was smooth riding and coordinated.
  • Not all the art was mind-blowing work but I don't think that wasn't the point... the event showcased a range of artists from the community, high-brow and low-brow without discrimination.
  • Observation: for a city composed 40% of African American and 10% Latino, those groups were largely absent from the event.  One of the questions for next year should be how to attract this other half of the city.  I know the organizers worked hard to provide transportation not to mention that the event was free admission too... maybe a wider array of music might help... the inclusion of hip-hop artists for instance might attract a different scene?
  • Perhaps it was just me, but I had a hard time finding out what artists did what.  Maybe a detailed flyer (separate from the map of the event) indicating each room/section of the interiors and labeling the title of work and artist would suffice... it could even include info about the art and artist as a kind of brochure.
  • You could've gone just for the music, food, and beer and had an amazing time... but without a doubt the star of the show was the Marine A installations.  In a sense the artists that exhibited or performed in these spaces didn't have to do much to create an awe-inspiring experience because standing inside the 300 foot or so silos was an experience in itself.  Kisha Patterson-Tanski and Ron Shaw's balloon installation was my pick for the show... who would've thought that throwing lit up balloons propelled by industrial fans to the top of the silo would be so exciting and mind blowing (see video below)!  Daniel Seiders' massive lit up gears suspended from the ceiling of another silo created not only a thematically appropriate subject matter but also created an amazing visual effect.  And Steve Baczkowski's unconventional solo sax playing in yet another silo was all that was needed to transport your imagination to somewhere far far away (see video below).
Here are some photos and videos...

Tom Ryder
Jorg Schnier

Erin Habes

Keith Harrington and Jeremy Maxwell

Kisha Patterson-Tanski and Ron Shaw

Daniel Seiders

Kisha Patterson-Tanski and Ron Shaw

Steve Baczkowski

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