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Just Do it Yourself

T-shirt by Steve Ardo

Second Buffalo DIY Fest helps artists help themselves

There is a popular idea that Buffalo has a thriving DIY community; one that has been digging up from the underground and making more of an appearance in the established art scene. Proof of this idea comes as these underground artists and musicians participate in the second Buffalo DIY Fest, which will take place Saturday at 4pm at the Buffalo River Fest Park.

The scenery of the festival will be adorned with the old but scenic backdrop of the grain elevators and will feature live music along with poetry by Pure Ink Poetry, as local artists get the opportunity to show and sell their creations. Guests will also be able to feast on food provided by Taco Porch and FallyMac. Although this is only the second DIY Fest, there are high hopes to make this an annual event, according to event creator Cameron Rogers, who describes the birth of the festival as “a necessity because several DIY venues have closed down.” This time around, Rogers was able to earn funding from the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation and ASI. He has also had the help of his friend Jason Hurley to make the event possible, as Hurley has worked with all of the “legal, adult versions of everything,” such as insurance issues and booking the venue. Rogers is the perfect marriage of a workaholic and an artist. Aside from creating the festival, he has also established the organization “Buffalo DIY”—an organization that was created in conjunction with the festival and works to promote artists, musicians and “everything Do-It-Yourself.” Buffalo DIY provides screen printing services for organizations and artists, and also books shows for both local and out of town bands.

The desire to keep busy doesn’t end there. Working full time at Amy’s Place restaurant, Rogers is also the drummer for three bands: experimental band A Hotel Nourishing, math rock band All Of Them Witches and solo drum project Coca-Cola Death Squad. All of Them Witches will perform during the festival along with artist Allison Mitchell, Matt Script, rock band the Etchings, jazz fusion band the Left Hand of Darkness, Cobalt Blue, indie band Mosaics, Kevin Cain and hip-hop artist Jack Toft.

After sitting down to talk with Rogers, not only did I learn that he is a math rock enthusiast, but I also learned that the genuine thought of throwing DIY Fest is to not only to expose local artists, but inspire all people to recognize their potential to create whatever they can imagine. Rogers says there are a couple of things he hopes Buffalonians get out of the event. “Essentially, the bottom line is for people to realize that they have the potential to do something, just create something. That is why I want people from all walks of life to be present with their art.”

For the sake of giving a “verbal taste” of what to expect, freelance graphic designer and illustrator Steve Ardo shared that he will be featuring screen printed t-shirts—which were created at the Western New York Book Arts Center—pins, zines, and stickers displaying his illustrations. Ardo will also present a “mini-portfolio” of fliers he has designed for house shows, which he has dubbed “Buffalo (hand) Bills.”

A first time participator in the festival, Ardo has been present in the DIY community and has participated in many DIY art markets. He shared with me that he has been creating fliers for house venues for almost two years and “helps bands build their own identity through branding and merchandising.”

After speaking with these two gentlemen, there was a common theme that clicked in my mind—from Rogers attesting to the segregation of the DIY scenes in Buffalo and hoping for “everyone to be a part of something together,” to Ardo alluding to the connection between DIY visual artists and musicians that need to become more visible to the public—this festival is a celebration of all things artistic. Whether it be an immaculate painting or a pencil drawn flier; an up-cycled “t-dress” or your typical fast, loud and rowdy punk band, Buffalo DIY Fest is the culmination and unification of all things art, whatever that term means to you. If you created it, the DIY Fest wants to share it with the community.

According to Ardo, DIY themed events are fundamental in achieving the goal of strengthening Buffalo’s art and music scenes. “It is a beautiful community that is thriving, but we just need an extra spark to make it explode.”

The festival is free to the public, but donations will be accepted for the bands and other helping hands that made this event possible.

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