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Artists & Models 25: True Defective

photo by Marty McGee

Watching the Defectives

In 1990 a few seminal events happened in Buffalo. Three that would have to be at the top of most local citizens lists would be: 1) Buffalo Bills went to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history—the first of four consecutive Super Bowl losses. 2) Mark Goldman opened the Calumet on Chippewa St. which began the street’s transformation from a seedy, rundown street of porn shops, strip clubs and dive bars to a music thumpin’ row of glitzy bars and night clubs for college youth. (Fine dining restaurants have since replaced a few of the bars.) Lastly, number three, Artvoice began publishing the city’s only alternative newspaper.

The latter two were cultural events and as history shows us cultural shifts are almost always preceded by Art movements. In this case, it would be 1989’s first Artists & Models affair, which blew the doors off of conservative behavior in Buffalo and gave folks an opportunity to express their wildest creative fantasies in a public display among hundreds of like minded people. For past 25 years Artists & Models has delivered its annual party of zany clothes, wild music and dancing, unexpected art installations and cold beer and drinks.

The seeds for Artists & Models were planted in the early 1980s when Tony Billoni, former Performance Art Curator at Hallwalls and a driving force behind the creation of Artists & Models, started booking shows combining music and film at unusual locations. Billoni had a number of connections in NYC and after seeing the vibrant, wild club scene in New York he believed Buffalo could be just as vibrant and just as creative. He wanted to create an event to make that happen, a big event. But how do you get 1,000 or more people to come to an event?

“I went to my first opening of the then Western New York show at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and saw more than 1000 people in an art setting—something I never saw in Buffalo” said Billoni. “When I asked where everyone was going after there was no single answer. I thought, take the free-floating wandering art experience I saw in NYC and give this huge art-infused crowd something to do after the Albright-Knox WNY Art opening.

Artists & Models

Saturday, June 21, 9pm-1am

The Garage, 151 East Eagle St. (between Michigan and Elm).


TICKETS: $15 Advance, $20 At the door, $15 Students at the door (with ID). Available at: Hallwalls (in person, online hallwalls.org, or phone 716.854.1694), Talking Leaves...Books (both locations), Room, Farmers & Artisans, Rust Belt Books.


PRE-PARTY: 7:30 to 9pm, $50 per person. Hors d’oeuvres, wine, beer. Entertainment by ABCDJ.


Food Trucks on Site

FallyMac, Lloyd Taco, Betty Crockski, Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs



Michael Bosworth
Keith Harrington
Tara Sasiadek
Liz Rywelski
Jimyn the Singing Mime

“Our original goal was to show, unvarnished, the power of our local art community to people. By combining visual, media and performance art with a dance floor and a DJ playing cutting edge music heard in no club in Buffalo, and a well-run, well-stocked bar, we had all the elements to appeal to a broad audience—artists, art lovers, fashionistas, punks, rockers, clubbers, bar-goers, gays and tourists. The other key element was to locate it in a building no one had traditionally seen as a nightlife venue, a building that was large enough to create several separate environments.”

Finding a large, unusual location has always been key to Artists & Models and the event has been in places as varied as a roller rink, Central Terminal, Pierce-Arrow building, a former Packard automobile showroom, the old Mentholatum factory, Broadway Market, and so on. This allows the event to have several different rooms within the building.

“Not much has changed from that blueprint,” said Billoni.

One thing that changed is that at some point Billoni turned the entire event over to Hallwalls and it is now their annual fundraiser. Very good move on Billoni’s part considering, as he put it, “Most of the original Artists & Models team had fallen off and the new people, while eager, were young and didn’t quite get the ‘work’ side of making the party happen. I didn’t want see Artists & Models just disappear like many storied fun events in Buffalo social history. Hallwalls was the most likely beneficiary, since they had been a feeder/friend for most of our existence.”

A Big Year for Artists & Models

Artists & Models 2014 is a double anniversary: 25 years of Artists & Models and 40 years for Hallwalls. Titled Artists & Models Affair 25: True Defective, this year’s event takes place Saturday, June 21, 9pm-1am at The Garage, 151 East Eagle St. (between Michigan and Elm).

True Defective is an accurate description of the spirit of the event, its participants and its audience. Perhaps that’s because being “different” or creative is often viewed as being defective, like Van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, Lady Gaga, etc. Of course, Hallwalls has always been the nurturing home for the experimental, the avant-garde, for the creativity that flourishes along the fringe of mainstream culture. That’s where ideas percolate in unexpected ways to delight, inform, entertain and sometimes disturb. What one might call defective, another might call sublime or illuminating.

The bottom line is that Artists & Models will deliver a night of frivolity, titillation, excitement, dark desires, and unsung dreams. To this end, Hallwalls has engaged a number of Buffalo’s most dynamic visual artists for a series of artworks, installations, projections, and performances. The true defectives who have agreed to illuminate your early summer world this year include:

LIZ BAYAN who will be producing a series of masks of herself so that the A&M audience can pose with them and the artist can properly take selfies...with herself.

SETH TYLER BLACK who present a performance piece exploring the seven deadly sins, which he promises will change and decay until it is “rendered chaos/hell at the end of the night.”

MICHAEL BOSWORTH whose building an oversized pinball machine full of sound and fury but signifying nothing, a spectacle alternating between play and tilt.

BUFFALO LAB who have promised a transtemporal booth, training workstations, and other technologies all culled together in an effort to travel back in time. To kill Hitler.

NELSON BRADLEY who is organizing the First Annual A&M Indoor Kite Festival.

DAVID BUTLER who is the mac daddy of Artists & Models, having performed in more events than any other Buffalo artist (ever), will offer up his truck in a one-car Auto Show, including warranty information, loan applications, and a b-roll of the defectively sexy vehicle in action.

KYLE BUTLER, RUBY MERRITT, NECOLE ZAYATZ who will offer the audience health and wellness time in their Clinic For Well Being, a social performance and functioning pseudo-clinic with reception desk and pharmacy.

SCOTT BYE who will present new and recently-produced sculptural works.

JODY HANSON who will present a blackboard-based sculpture as a tribute to the geeks, visionaries, and savants of the world.

KEITH HARRINGTON who will offer audience members a rapid fire photo booth with selective backdrops and loading messages, which will project their portraits in a continuous live feed elsewhere in the event.

LIZ LESSNER & ADAM McFILLIN who will explore the gestural nature of speech in an audio piece located in the stairwell recording live sounds from two sources and remixing the recording in pitch and modulation for a live feedback.

JEFF MACE who will present an oversized turntable sculpture in a sentimental nod to songs he recalls from his grammar school years, which will be mixed and played from the sculpture.

JIMYN THE SINGING MIME who will roam the space in order to solicit guests to perform and sing with him in various short skits.

KYLE MARLER & JAX DELUCA who, as the conglomerate FLATSITTER, will use an Oculus Rift helmet to invite the audience to experience a virtual landscape of unsettling sights and sounds.

MARTY McGEE who will present a Defect-Effect Test Zone, which will ask the audience to follow instructions and replicate various movements and vocalized sounds.

BRIAN MILBRAND & HOLLY JOHNSON who will present the Glamorandom Beauty Salon, where visitors can explore a full body makeover and leave with a complementary photograph of your salon experience.

LORNA MILLS who will be offering up a curated projection of gif loops entitled Clusterfuck Zoo and featuring the work of 51 international artists.

NANCY J. PARISI who will revive her perennial A&M photo booth, situated appropriately close to the outdoor beer tent.

LIZ RYWELSKI who will dress in homage to Shaye Saint John and play ping pong with you.

TARA SASIADEK who will organize a cluster of dancers into a moving spine sculpture.

CHUCK TINGLEY who will be painting live for the duration.

RICH TOMASELLO & MARCUS WISE who will present a action figure box/photo booth in which audience members can have their portrait taken in a customized setting under various titles: Artist, Curator, Hero, Jerk, Villain, Asshole...

KURT VON VOETSCH who will be doing a performative dance with the dead, with tombstone rubbings, with himself, with the fates.

SARA ZAK who will be painting live for the duration.

As should be apparent from those shotgun descriptions, almost all installations and performances include elements through which the audience can be engaged directly with the artwork. Our participating artists are sharing their defective selves with your defective self and they know that sometimes that a meeting of defective hearts and minds requires direct action.

True to Artists & Models original Billoni-blueprint, the majority of the musical entertainment this year will be provided by a series of DJ sets, featuring: ABCDJ, JOSH YOURMOMS, DJ CUTLER, and DJ LO PRO.

And, as has been the case for several years, spontaneous live musical augmentation will be provided by Buffalo’s 12/8 Path Band.

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