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Infringement Diary #2: Comics relief

A panel from Jason Gussman's "Return to Snakeland," at the Main Street Studios.

Comics relief

Two Infringement Fest visual art venues downtown feature about a dozen artists each: Main Street Studios, 515 Main Street, on the strip that’s valiantly trying to reinvent itself from the block that time forgot to a little colony of art locales, and Wasteland Studios, on the second floor of 700 Main Street, near Main and Tupper.

If there’s a theme at Main Street Studios, it’s comic book art, cartoon drawing, often with verbal accompaniment, culminating in a professional-looking little graphic novelette called Return to Snakeland, written by Jason Gusmann, art by Aaron O’Brian. According to the writer, a “fictionalized account of some shit that actually happened,” with the names and locations changed “to protect the innocent as well as the guilty.” What supposedly happened was a series of five murders and four suicides—some or all possibly related—within one year and one small community that could be a Buffalo area inner suburb, beginning with a grisly murder of a teenage girl in an area of railroad tracks and grain elevators in the background (“Snakeland”) that nobody goes to except wildside kids at night to drink and get high and whatever else illicit might ensue.

Some other Main Street Studios offerings include: Cari Feltz-Abdo’s Barbie-themed meditation on Perfection, featuring such aberrant Barbie doll manifestations as Barbie drunk, Barbie homeless, Barbie breast cancer victim, and Barbie pole-dancer; Como Agua, Porsche Jones’ large-scale, high-gloss photos of cut-open vegetables, mostly, against black backdrops; and Deedee Clohessy’s cartoon caricature with props drawings of a number of nonpareil friends and acquaintances, according to the biographical précis she provides on each subject or group.

Also, a vignette of a graphic narrative by Amy Lynn Duengfelder called 20 Fingerprints, being the story of a hapless young woman endowed with four arms—thus four hands, thus 20 manual digits—who is accused of a murder.

If there’s a theme at Wasteland Studios it might be urban decay. The walls of the main room are thoroughly urban-graffiti-style spay-painted around more circumscribed presentations of photos and paintings and scrap heap metal monster sculptures. A photo series called Urbex Buffalo, ascribed to one-name artist Nickel, is said to be “a photographic love letter to urban decay” and features what look to be views of the old Central Terminal facility in serious state of dilapidation inside and outside. Another series called Visualizing Vacancy, artist unlisted, consists of 120 small-format photos of vacant properties, ranging in nature from rubble fields to something like lawn, where probably there used to be a house before it burned down or was demolished by the city, maybe after the fire, mostly on the East Side of Buffalo. The street address is listed for each property—the house address, that is, except that there is no house there. Another display entitled Abandon (or Dirty City), by Porsche Jones again, consists of photos of young people in sometimes bizarre costume—lots of net stockings and fashionably slashed clothing, but also sometimes party dress—in unusual locales around the city at night. A kind of chronolog of prom night, or un-prom.

John Bianchi’s photo series is called Not Your Average Kodak Moments. Sometimes they’re not, sometimes they are. Not average include a one-eyed monster-looking end-on view of a broken-off tree trunk, and a shot of a flame-breather guy in action. Average include a looking-up view of the Erie County Court building tower, a between-plays shot of football game at the Carrier Dome, and a view of a municipal water reservoir at first light and obscure shoreline vegetation in the distance. The scrap metal monsters are by Dereck Hamilton and they are large and formidable-looking.

At El Museo Francisco Oller y Diego Rivera, no discernible theme among the half dozen or so exhibits, the most interesting of which—conceptually, that is—is called nexus-void, by Colin Tucker. It consists of ambient noise recordings from several locations across the city (one in Riverside, near the mouth of Scajaquada Creek, one in the First Ward on the Buffalo River, and several near El Museo) played back simultaneously on a number of audio systems placed around the museum space in locations more or less mimicking the locations around the city where the sound was recorded. More or less, and conceptually, did I mention. You don’t hear much that you can make much of, but it’s an interesting idea.

Among other art at El Museo are Tezozomoc Chavez’s paintings based on Mexican Aztec symbology, and Daniel Rockwitz Reynolds’s posters employing modern graphic art versions of Taiwanese calligraphic characters.

Appropriately, the art at Amy’s Place, at the other end of Main Street, is all about eggs, in various attitudes and situations. The work is by Franczyk Photography.

All the Infringement Fest visual art is up through the end of the festival, August 5.

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