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Fundraiser for CEPA Gallery Thursday, November 8

Photo by Eric Jackson-Forsberg, executive director of the Western New York Book Arts Center.

Visions of Greater Buffalo

This is how it works: CEPA Gallery, dedicated to promoting photography as an art form, chooses 50 people in the community, gives to each a disposable camera with 27 exposures, and asks each to photograph some part, any part, of Western New York.

The volunteer photographers return their cameras to CEPA, which develops the film and shows the prints to a panel of professionals, who choose the best picture each photographer as made. The 50 pictures they choose are blown up, framed, exhibited in CEPA’s gallery space on Main Street, and auctioned off at a gala opening. The proceeds benefit CEPA’s much-lauded education programs.

This is Visions of Greater Buffalo, one of the year’s greatest cultural fundraisers, and it takes place this Thursday, November 8, 6-10pm. It is the sixth such event CEPA has held.

“This is a much-needed gap-filler in education in our community for children, young adults, and adults who desire and need access to photo classes that are both traditional—wet darkrooms—as well as digital,” says Nancy Parisi, who chairs both the event and CEPA’s board of directors. “The artist-teachers are all amazing and CEPA’s educational programming is growing: There is that much need and demand, and it’s that good.”

This year’s Visions photographers are quite a crew: Hodgson Russ attorney and arts patron Adam Perry, UB libraries vice provost Austin Booth, WNED program director Gabe DiMaio, the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo’s Ellen Goldstein, Roswell Park Cancer Institute’s Candace Johnson, a trio of elected officials—Mark Poloncarz, Sean Ryan, and Mike LoCurto—to name just a few. All accepted the assignment, struggled with the disposable cameras, and, in aggregate, have created a portrait of the city, its distinctive architecture and public places, its skies and its waters.

(Artvoice’s representation is pretty deep as well: Parisi chairs is the paper’s former photo editor, and former art director Betsy Frazer contributed a photograph, as did theater editor Tony Chase, who continues to be showered with honors in 2012. I am also a photographer this year.)

Visions was once biennial; under Parisi, CEPA has decided to make it an annual affair, beginning this year. There is a basket auction as well, and an instant photo booth. And once again this year, the public at large was encouraged to submit their own visions of Western New York using the cameras on their smart phones. Thomse images will be made part of the exhibit opening on Thursday as well.

General admission to Thursday’s event is $15; $60 gets you 10 basket auction tickets and a matted print of this year’s featured Visions photograph; $100 gets you the same deal for two people.

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