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Our Culture, Great and Small

So the rest of the country applauded us this year. Again.

We don’t get to say that very often, but when it comes to the arts Buffalo consistently outranks similar cities in national polls rating arts and cultural destinations in the USA. In case you hadn’t heard, 2009 marks the second year that AmericanStyle magazine ranked our city among the Top 25 Arts Destinations, and gave us the number one spot among mid-sized cities, referring to Buffalo as a “rising giant” in 2008.

Peter Fowler

Now, with all due respect and with full awareness of the pot/kettle dynamic at work here, we hadn’t really heard much about AmericanStyle magazine before Buffalo’s illustrious mention within its pages. So to stoke the fire, here we must add that Buffalo also made the New York Times’ Travel List of 44 Places to Go in 2009, and while 44 is a whole lot more than 25, and we weren’t number one, this was an international list ranking Buffalo among exotic destinations from Iceland to Brazil. The article also noted the newly opened Burchfield-Penney Art Center as a point of particular interest.

Of course, the internationally renowned Albright-Knox Art Gallery has much to do with Buffalo’s status in the art world, as does the new Artspace Lofts project, as well as the aforementioned Burchfield-Penney. But from grassroots galleries like College Street Gallery (College and Allen) and Big Orbit (in the Essex Street Arts Complex), to so-called “stealth” galleries like Gateway Gallery (on Elmwood in Allentown) and Nobody’s Gallery (Elmwood and Forest), the local arts scene thrives without the grandiosity involved in making a special outing to one of the mammoth institutions that get written about in national newspapers.

This is not to say that the local arts scene doesn’t struggle. Artists and arts organizations in Buffalo struggle enormously—more, it seems, with each passing year. The theater community has been especially hard hit, as has funding for arts programs in the schools and for public art in general. Dance companies and studios like ALT Theater (Pierce-Arrow building) and Gallery 464 (on Amherst Street), poetry and spoken word venues such as Rust Belt and Talking Leaves bookstores, small theaters for film and performance like Hallwalls and Squeaky Wheel—it’s a not-so-small small miracle that their programs remain free or affordable, and that they continue to produce despite the lack of governmental and municipal support.

This is a tremendous civic issue, and one which this newspaper is devoted to drawing attention to—as anyone who looks at Artvoice surely knows. But the Best of Buffalo poll is (well, mostly) about positivity. So congratulations to all nominees, and thank you for all you do—all you stuggle to do—to make this city a more interesting and beautiful place, whether or not what you do puts us on any kind of national “map.”

—k. o’day

Best Actor

Tim Newell
Christopher Brandjes
Vincent O’Neill
Norm Sham
Chad Michael Murray (well, he’s from here, so we counted his votes)

Best Actress

Kelly Ferguson-Moore
Kristen Tripp Kelly
Mary Kate O’Connell
Kelly Jakiel
Lisa Ludwig

Best Theater Company

Irish Classical Theatre
Buffalo United Artists
Road Less Traveled Theater
Theater of Youth

Best Local Theater Production

The Man Who Came to Dinner @ American Repertory Theatre
Hedda Gabbler @ The Irish Classical Theater
In De Beginning @ Ujima
Triangles @ Road Less Traveled Theater

Best Playwright

Matthew LaChiusa
Jon Elston
Manny Fried
Gary Earl Ross
Annette Daniels

Best Cinema

North Park
Regal Elmwood
Market Arcade
Amherst Theater
Palace Theater

Best Dance Company

Neglia Ballet
Configuration Dance
Rince Na Tiarna

Best Dancer

Sergio Neglia
Fiona Dargan
Nadia Ibrahim
Young-Sil Kim
Michelle Gigante

Best Spoken Word Series/Venue

Rust Belt Books
The Screening Room
Just Buffalo Interdisciplinary Reading Series

Best Poet/Spoken Word Artist

Celia White
MC Vendetta
Alex Mead
Matthew Baker Thompson
Verneice Turner

Best Writer

Michael I. Niman
Gary Earl Ross
Jon Elston
Donn Esmonde
Robert Wilczak

Best New Ars/Performance Space

Gallery 464
Sugar City
Buffalo United Artists
Burchfield-Penney Art Center

Best Cultural Asset

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
Albright-Knox Art Museum
Shea’s Performing Arts Center
Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center
Burchfield-Penney Art Center

Best Supporter of the Arts

Jack Cullen
M&T Bank
Buffalo Infringement Festival
Robbe Takac

Best Really Small Art Gallery

College Street Gallery
Gateway Gallery
Big Orbit
Sugar City

Best Painter

A.J. Fries
Peter Fowler
Ani Hoover
Kyle J. Kaczmarczyk
Jesse Horst

Best Photographer

Mark Dulles
Nancy J. Parisi
Glenn Murray
Cheryl Gorski
KC Kratt

Best Sculptor

Julie Silver
Larry Griffis
Matthew Patterson
Scott Bye
Marissa Winzig

Best Genre-defying Artist

Josh Smith
Nadia Ibrahim
Ani DiFranco
Buffalo Sound Ensemble
David Butler

Best Video/Film Artist

Marc Odien
Chris Gallant
Jesse Koch
Brian Milbrand
Jax DeLuca

Best Comedian

Rob Lederman
Ben Verbeck
Kristen Becker
Mark Saldana
Byron Brown

Best of Buffalo 2009 Nominations

Mysteries of BuffaloThe Way We EatThe Way We Drink
Where We ShopOur Kind of MusicThese are Our People
Our Culture, Great and SmallThis is Our Town

And the Winners Are...

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