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City of Night

Clockwise from above: David Torke's photos of people arriving at last year's City of Night and of the Sketch Exchange; Sara M. Zak's "Elevators in the Sun."

Next Saturday, Silo City will again explode in light and sound—a night of art and music in one of Buffalo’s unique venues

Last September, an extraordinary congregation of visual, sound, and performance artists created a multi-faceted, one-night show in and around the grain elevators at Buffalo’s Silo City. More than 3,000 people came—an astonishing turnout for a first-time event, and evidence of the deep fascination those iconic structures along the Buffalo River inspire.

You might have missed it last year, but if you drove by the silos on the I-190 that night, it made a spectacular aural and visual impression.

It was called City of Night, and its second incarnation takes place next Saturday, August 17, again at Silo City (200 Childs Street), 4pm-2am. As last year, admission is free.


4-4:40pm: Tom Stahl and the Dangerfields

5-5:40pm: Sara Elizabeth

6-6:40pm: Bearhunter

7-7:40pm: Sound Within (Liz Holland)

8-8:40pm: Randle and the Late Night Scandals

9-40pm: Savannah King

10-10:40pm: Zero City

11-11:40pm: Lazlo Hollyfeld

Midnight-?: PROJEX, a.k.a. Keith Harrington

VJ Deliria's LOVE installation at last year's event, photographed by Cathaleen Curtiss.

Dana Saylor is an artist and a historian with a preservationist bent. She is a member of Emerging Leaders in the Arts in Buffalo, or ELAB, a tight-knit group of artists who pulled off last year’s City of Night. She is also a member of Buffalo’s Young Preservationists, a group that seeks to bolster and continue the cause of preservation and creative reuse of historically significant buildings and spaces in the city.

“I hope that by bringing art to Silo City, we awaken and reinvigorate both the site, and the attendees,” Saylor says. “This juxtaposition of contemporary art, in a place of industrial heritage (art whose themes interpret said heritage) is not a new idea…but it is one we’re more than ready for in Buffalo. I hope to encourage other artists and community activists to make their bold ideas a reality, and to give the community the space to think, talk and share all they’re learning. Transformation is what this night is all about.”

This year the organizing team—which has expanded in size and ambition, thanks to last year’s success—expects to attract 7,000 people. The logistics are daunting, but conquerable, beginning with transportation to the site. Parking inside the Silo City compound is available but very limited, so the organizers encourage alternate approaches:

• GoBike Buffalo will provide guided bicycle rides to Silo City from Shea’s on Main Street downtown, leaving at 5pm,7pm, and 9pm. At Silo City there will be a bike valet, which will accept and stow bikes safely until midnight.

• Queen City Ferry will be transporting people round-trip to Silo City from both the Inner and Outer Harbors.

• The organizers are working with the NFTA to arrange extra Metro buses on the #36 route, which passes right in front of Silo City, for the duration of the event.

BFLO Harbor Kayak will rent kayaks on-site, so attendees can get a look at the complex from the water, but that’s not a transportation solution so much as another interesting thing to do once you’re there.

If you must drive, the organizers say, try to car-pool, and give up your parking spot to the elderly or less mobile, if it comes to that. And it may come to that: Saylor says last year’s crowd was remarkably diverse, not at all the usual suspects who frequent the city’s art openings and giant art parties. She attributes this to the appeal of the space itself, which commands so much attention but which has only recently become accessible.

“The grain elevators represent our collective past, this city’s birth and growth, and our communal role in honoring that legacy,” Saylor says. “The first time I walked behind the Perot grain elevator and saw the iconic view of ‘Elevator Alley’ and the Ohio Street lift bridge, I could feel the weight of our 200 years. That history, for me, has a gravitational pull, and I have been honored to help thousands of others experience the same.”

The event starts early and ends late, to accommodate a long list or participating artists and performers, and so those who attend can experience elevators in daylight and at night. There will be food to sustain you, thanks to the city’s burgeoning fleet of food trucks: Lloyd, the Whole Hog, Rolling Joe, Thai Me Up, Amy’s Truck, and Roaming Buffalo will all be there. There will be a beer tent, too, offering reasonably priced refreshments.

If you feel you need extra comforts, this year there will be a VIP tent, 7:30pm-1:30am, featuring snacks, drinks, and private performances by the Larkin Plan (8-9pm) and DJ Rick Jameson (9pm-1am).

The participating artists are legion. At the 464 Art Fair—organized by Marcus L. Wise, who owns 464 Gallery and is also a member of ELAB—there will be works by 38 artists: Angela Wisniewski, Christa Penner, Bill Battaglia, Rich Tomasello, Chuck Tingley, Ryan Mis, Alicia Malik, CJ Szatkowski, Jaimie Ellis, David Pierro, Cari Feltz­Abdo, Harry Zemski, Julia Norris, Nicci Mangano, Veronica Kruger, Kevin Douglas, Steve Siegel, Iris Kirkwood, Mickey Harmon, Dennise Rodriguez, George & Kaitlin Gilham, Julia Finucane, Seth Graham & 2, Colleen Toledano, Christopher Galley, Christina Pearce, Sam Haney, Margaret Giamo, Candice Pack, Sean Madden, Jayne Hughes, Vinny Alejandro, Jessica LaFalce, Thomas Webb, Dave Huurman, Mike O, Fred Mount, and Wise himself.

The 464 Art Fair takes place in the American Warehouse.

Another 14 artists will create site-specific installations or performances: Diane Almeter Jones, Sara Zak, MIST Lab (Lynne Koscielniak & Dyan Burlingame with programmer Ian Shelanskey), Meagan Baco and Crystal Sanchez, Kelly Tomasello and Jon Manning, Owen Linders, Kate Parzych, VJ Deliria, Eric Mowery, Tom Ryder, Kisha Patterson-Tanski and Ron Shaw, Saylor, Casey William Millbrand, and Marissa Lehner.

Saylor says that a site-specific installations coordinator, Marissa Lehner, wrote a call for work to get installations, then publicized it. “Artists responded with proposals either for particular areas of the site, or described their work and were assigned an appropriate space. Work with industrial, historical or other themes which would work well at Silo City were selected and juried,” Saylor says.

Leslie Fineberg, another ELAB member, employed a similar process to recruit dance, theater, and performance artists.

The event is sponsored by Monster Assembly, a Buffalo-based tech startup; Larkin Square; DelVecchio & Stadler; and Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation. As with all the new activity arising at Silo City, the event would be impossible without the aid of property owner Rick Smith and site manager “Swannie” Jim Watkins.

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