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Best of WNY 2011: It's the people I

Ed Cardoni

Photo by kc kratt

Best curator(s)
Beyond/In WNY Team
It might seem like something of a miracle that 14 curators from 12 diverse art venues could manage to work together for over a year without killing each other. This is Buffalo, however, where abundant artistic achievement is managed with collegial small-town spirit. Ably led by Hallwalls’ John Massier, the Beyond/In team pulled off the gargantuan task of exhibiting over 100 artists in a dozen museums and galleries and numerous satellite locations spread over 2 counties. There was so much worthwhile work, in fact, that it took the full 3 months the biennial lasted to see it all, especially if you attempted to take in the many performances, lectures, and screenings. Here’s one Buffalo team that had a winning season in 2010.


Best arts administrator
Ed Cardoni
The longtime executive director of Hallwalls is also one of the best advocates for the arts Buffalo has ever had.
While Cardoni’s outspoken role in the debate over county funding brought him to a lot of people’s attention in the past year, he’s been fighting the good fight—on behalf of artists and audiences, and against the forces of censorship—for two decades now, with equal measures of passion and eloquence. During an era when similar artist-run venues around the country have shut their doors, Hallwalls has not only survived but thrived, unafraid to shift its size and shape to meet the challenges of the day without ever once abandoning its mission—and that mix of experimentation and determination is classic Cardoni.


Best friend of the arts
Fund for the Arts
By now, everyone in WNY knows that as far as our city and county governments are concerned, arts/culture do not exist. (And probably none of us are surprised.) Fortunately, a group of local foundations and arts organizations has been working together to devise some way of getting support to the theaters, galleries, and other small cultural entities that add so much to our quality of life and do it with so few resources. Fund for the Arts, a coalition of local foundations, has raised close to half a million to divide among 36 recipients this year, and is looking for a long-term solution. Bravo!


Favorite actress
Katie White
A familiar presence on WNY stages, White continues to stand out in roles both major and minor. Her tour de force this season was undoubtedly her role as Catherine in Buffalo Laboratory Theatre’s Standing on My Knees. Playing a poet whose treatment for schizophrenia forces her to choose between her creativity and a burgeoning relationship, she was brilliantly balanced on the thin line between tension and tenderness. With White inches away on BLT’s close stage, her anxiety was ours as we felt every raw nerve and sensitive synapse. Few actresses—let alone audiences—are ever so lucky.


Favorite actor
Tim Newell
As a character actor, Newell has always had ample opportunity to steal shows with distinctive featured roles, but rarely does he get a chance to be the show. This season, two plays (Lebensraum and Gutenberg! The Musical!) called for leads with Newell’s exact brand of versatility and theatergoers enjoyed a rare treat—twice. In both shows, Newell donned the hats (in Gutenberg!, literally) of a host of diverse characters, proving he has the chops for anything.


Best local music act
Wooden Waves
This incredibly affable outfit is, in the grand Buffalo tradition, a little bit avant and a whole lotta catchy at pretty much the same time. Driving, relentless beats nudge up against the most delicate of flourishes (is that a celesta we hear?!), and the result can be sheer magic. As their name suggests, these folks are not afraid to let the contradictions and rough edges show, even when they’re surfing toward pop perfection. Catch this wave, pronto.


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