Next story: The Faces That You Meet
by Jamie Moses
This week marks the 20th anniversary of Artvoice. I hope you enjoy flipping through the pages and the memories as much as we enjoyed creating the paper all these years. Many things have changed since we began: the Lexington Food Coop was actually on Lexington; Robbie Goo was tending bar at Cabaret (now Darcy McGee’s); the Chophouse was a theatre (TOY); Town Ballroom was a theater (the Pfeiffer); Seymour and Northrup Knox still owned the Sabres; Silo, AM&As, and Bells were still in business (they should have advertised in Artvoice); people talked on phones instead of texting; there was no World Wide Web; and the Buffalo News had a daily circulation 322,000 (now hovering around 150,000).
Artvoice thanks the many people who have helped us, advertised, sponsored or participated in the making of the paper, the website, ArtvoiceTV.com, our charitable fundraising, and AV events like the Artie Awards, Artvoice Street Festivals, Mardi Gras Festival/Parade, and so much more.
I personally thank the staff at Artvoice, those who are here and those who have moved on. I love all of you. Artvoice began as an idea and not as a business venture. We’ve witnessed dozens of business ventures fall to wayside: Metro Weekend, Buffalo Beat, Blue Dog, Buffalo Rising magazine, Current, etc.
Artvoice still thrives and will continue to do so as long as we continue chasing fresh ideas and supporting creativity, and approach publishing as a way of life and a way to be part of the community, and not as a way of business. God bless. Here’s to another 20 years of joy.
Khansama of the Muse
June 1990 » Jamie Moses quits Arts in Buffalo and a week later publishes Artvoice. He did it with the help of a small handful of advertisers and an even smaller handful of friends: Dawn Mullen, Nancy J. Parisi, and Amy Kutzbach. They were almost immediately followed by theater editor Anthony Chase and “Stagefright” columnist Javier Bustillos. Soon joining the fun was film editor M. Faust, and since then hundreds of people have come through Artvoice. In the beginning Artvoice had one tiny Mac computer (the first one Apple sold) with no hard drive and a copy of a desktop publishing program, Ready Set Go. No printer, no copy machine, no fax machine, no scanner, no internet. Articles were printed at Kinko’s and then pasted by hand onto layout sheets by Dawn Mullen. Nancy Parisi’s photos had to be developed in her darkroom, converted to half-tone, and hand-pasted onto layout sheets. Photo borders were done by hand with border tape.
It’s worth noting that the small group of advertisers who started with the paper have stayed in the paper almost every issue since, and all are still in business: Talking Leaves, Poster Art, Nietzsche’s, Virgil Avenue Tobacconist, Terrapin Station, Queen City Bookstore, Mohawk Place, Mighty Taco, and a few others. We thank them and continue to put their name out there week after week.
The first issue was put together on a kitchen floor, but by issue two Artvoice moved to 125 Elmwood Avenue, courtesy of Adventure Club owner Joe Detellis. We remained on Elmwood for four years.
May 1991 » Artvoice hosts the first Artie Awards ceremony for the theater community at Garvey’s on Pearl Street. There was a line to get in that went halfway down the block and everyone was dressed to nines. The following year we had to move it to the Tralf to fit everyone. We also held it at Network one year and have lately settled into the Town Ballroom the past few years.
June 1991 » First-year anniversary party is a two-day affair beginning with dinner, music, dance, poetry, and an art auction at the Calumet, followed by a walk to the Tralf for a live show, and continuing the next night with a blowout rock party at the New Pink Flamingo. At the time, Calumet owner Mark Goldman commented, “It’s only been a year? It seems like Artvoice has been here, I don’t know, like forever.”
October 1991 » After witnessing a couple nonprofit fundraisers that ended up costing the organizations more then they earned, Artvoice organizes its first fundraiser: an event to benefit Theatre of Youth. Titled “Outlaw Party” and held at the Icon music club, the event was a great success.
December 1991 » Artvoice buys a little 1200-baud modem. It took 16 hours to download a tiny 45-kilobyte font from CompuServe. Today if it took eight seconds we’d complain bitterly.
August 1992 » Bill Clinton visits Canisius College on a campaign swing and is photographed reading Artvoice. (Fourteen years later Artvoice asked Clinton to be the keynote speaker at the Association of Alternative Newspapers convention and he did it.)
June 1992 » Artvoice sponsors “Paint the Pink” contest seeking mural designs for the Old Pink on Allen Street.
September 1992 » Artvoice expands to Rochester and splits coverage with both cities.
1993 » Artvoice puts the first of four murals on the wall of Half & Half on Elmwood Avenue and gets in firestorm argument with the Buffalo News over replacing the Laura Rankin neon billboard that had been there. Until then the Buffalo News pretended we didn’t exist.
1993 » Lawyers for the Village Voice contact Artvoice and insist they change the name of the paper. Jamie Moses declines. The Village Voice continues to insist and recommends Jamie Moses talk to publishers of three other papers who were forced to change names, one in the Northwest, one, in the South, and one in Ohio. Moses calls and talks to all three publishers and still declines. The Village Voice offers Artvoice $5,000 to change its name. Artvoice proposes they purchase the paper for $1 million and call it anything they like. The Village Voice declines.
1993 » Artvoice pulls out of Rochester.
1993 » Artvoice begins its move towards politics, supporting Common Councilman Eugene Fahey for mayor in his race against Anthony Masiello. Fahey gets walloped.
1994 » Paul Nipkow patented television in Germany in 1884. Exactly 100 years later, Steve Cohen, general manager of Channel 2 and a confessed culture junky, walked into Artvoice to propose an Artvoice TV show. Artvoice on 2, a magazine-style entertainment TV show, goes on the air immediately following Saturday Night Live and quickly becomes number one in that time slot. Six months later Steve Cohen is fired and Jamie Moses decides he’s sick of television and drops the show.
1994 » Artvoice moves to 500 Franklin Street after the Adventure Club closes and Joe Detellis loses the building at 125 Elmwood, which remained empty until Elmwood Village Charter School finally opened there in 2006.
April 1994 » Amy Kutzbach passes away at age 25 from AIDS.
1994 » Artvoice begins printing in full color.
August 9, 1995 » Jerry Garcia dies and distraught Deadhead Deborah Ellis is tending bar at the Showplace Theater. Jamie Moses joins the band on stage and sings “Truckin’” to cheer her up. Today they have a seven-year-old daughter, Sarah Moses, and Deborah is an irreplaceable part of Artvoice.
1995 » In honor of Amy Kutzbach, Artvoice establishes the Amy Clinic offering holistic therapy at AIDS Community Services and raises $50,000 for the clinic. Artvoice abandons the project two years later after ACS failed to provide the services for which it was funded.
June 25, 1995 » The first Artvoice Street Festival is held on Chippewa Street, our annual anniversary party, which continues annually for 11 years and puts hundreds of local bands and national acts on stage. The street festival is replaced in 2006 with the Best of Original Music (B.O.O.M) series.
September 1995 » Artvoice produces My Fair Lady » A Drag Queen Extravaganza hosted by Lauren Fox in a tent at the Theatre Place Pavilion on Curtain Up! night. The show is absolutely mobbed and drag queens become the entertainment everybody wants, just in time for the recently opened Club Marcella.
February 1996 » Artvoice produces its first Mardi Gras fundraising party at the Hyatt, also hosted by Lauren Fox.
September 14, 1996 » Artvoice organizes a massive Children’s Fair in Allentown. It gets completely rained out so a rain date of September 21 is scheduled.
September 21, 1996 » Artvoice Children’s Fair gets totally rained out for second time and is abandoned forever.
October 1996 » Artvoice begins publishing weekly instead of bi-weekly.
March 1997 » Seizing on the closing of Kinko’s on Elmwood at Auburn, Artvoice opens the Artvoice Web & Copy store on Elmwood and Bidwell Parkway, a combination copy store and internet cafe. A complete disaster. After losing tens of thousands of dollars every month and threatening the survival of the newspaper, the Artvoice Web & Copy closes and a grateful Jamie Moses hands the keys and the lease over to Rudy Alloy Jr. of Just Pizza. Richard Taylor of Austin Air and Taylor’s department store took over the leases on all the copiers. Thank you, Rudy and Richard.
1997 » Dick Kern begins his “City Hall Watch” column and earns the everlasting love or hatred of vast numbers of readers. He is arrested several times while searching for information for his column, exonerated every time, and eventually moves to Minneapolis to avoid further harassment by elected officials. Too bad, we miss that crazy guy.
December 1997 » Artvoice begins the monthly Great Ideas Contest and gives $500 to whoever submits the best idea. Several months later the contest is given up when Channel 4 erroneously announces the wrong winner on its 11 o’clock news. Artvoice is sued by the “winner,” and, even though we had already paid the real winner, and it was Channel 4 who announced wrong name, a North Tonawanda court finds in favor of the North Tonawanda resident. God only knows how that happened.
1998 » In an Artvoice cover story, then Sabres president Larry Quinn predicts that John Rigas and his family, of Adelphia Communications, who had just maneuvered to take control of the Sabres from the Knox family, would be a disaster. Shortly after, Quinn is let go and replaced by Tim Rigas. Quinn was right; John and Tim Rigas are now both sitting in jail and Larry Quinn is back as Sabres president and managing partner.
August 5, 1998 » Bruce Jackson’s first Artvoice story, “Talkin’ Ugly,” attacks the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority’s plans for expansion of the Peace Bridge and plaza. Jackson went on to write more than 50 scathing articles about the Public Bridge Authority for Artvoice and dozens more for other publications, and became an acknowledged expert on the Peace Bridge issue. After a five-year hiatus, Jackson would return the pages of Artvoice in 2006 to join the fight against a Seneca gambling casino in downtown Buffalo.
July 1999 » La Paris Hotel, a gorgeous but dilapidated club on Main Street memorialized on the cover of the Them Jazzbeards album Pardon My French, is demolished. AV didn’t report on the issue, but one of our frequent letter writers—we wouldn’t know half the things we do without them—brought it to our attention. Not long after that, another letter writer hipped AV to the issue of the impending destruction of the terminus of the Erie Canal at the foot of Main Street, and the paper’s advocacy for historic preservation soon hit full stride.
August 1999 » The cover of Artvoice features a tiny cartoon of a panicky Andrew Rudnick, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, with his trousers ablaze and the caption “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire.” AV correspondent Bruce Jackson had caught Rudnick in a lie: Asked at a public forum about a survey AV staffers had spent two months conducting of his membership about their preferences for a new Peace Bridge, Rudnick pretended no such survey had been conducted. In fact AV staffers had made 2,771 phone calls, in an effort to reach the Partnerships’ purported 3,500 members, and received 682 responses: Of those, 49 percent favored the signature span that Rudnick opposed, 31 percent didn’t care or wanted a tunnel to Fort Erie, and just 20 percent agreed with Rudnick that the Partnership should support a twin span.
February 2000 » Former Erie County Legislator Greg Olma, in an interview with AV, lays out the case that the chairman or Erie County’s Democratic Party, Steve Pigeon, is a crazed megalomaniac whose quest for a seat as commissioner on the patronage-rich Erie County Water Authority is tearing the party apart. A week later, an AV correspondent meets with Pigeon to offer him equal time. In that hour-and-a-half-long interview, a shouting, perspiring, fist-banging Pigeon suffers a near complete meltdown. The transcript proves unpublishable. AV acquires a new bete noir.
October 2001 » Buffalo State College’s Michael I. Niman moves his column from the recently defunct Buffalo Beat to Artvoice. Less than a year later, he is beaten by Buffalo police on Elmwood Avenue during a Critical Mass bike ride.
December 26, 2002 » Artvoice publishes a cover story called “Mark ‘Pinocchio’ Hamister » The nose grows and grows,” its most effective story in a continuing series bashing Mark Hamister’s sneaky attempt to take control of the Buffalo Sabres using public money. It proves to be the tipping point—within days every media outlet in town is thrashing the Hamister deal.
2003 » Recognizing the inevitable growth of internet bandwidth, Artvoice begins investing in video equipment and editing software.
November 2003 » Jamie Moses meets with Mayor Anthony Masiello and proposes purchasing from the city the two rear buildings of the former Norban’s department store at 664 Washington Street. The gutted buildings had been vacant for 19 years. Masiello was thrilled at the prospect and claimed, “We’ll have this deal done in 30 days.” Seven years and a quarter million dollars of Artvoice investment in the building later, we are still struggling with the city to get in it. When it comes to getting a project done in Buffalo, the city seems about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.
June 2004 » At the Association of Alternative Newspapers convention in San Antonio, Artvoice demonstrates online video to 120 newspapers and proposes creating an online national television network among themselves, with the help of staff videographers Matthew Quinn and John Long. Unfortunately, at the time there was not a single paper in the country other than Artvoice, weekly or daily, producing online video. Now they’re all doing it. Predictably, bandwidth did grow and continues to grow faster and faster. Trends show that today more people are watching video online than on television.
October 27, 2005 » Artvoice organizes and hosts a mayoral debate at HSBC Arena; Channel 7 broadcasts it live and Artvoice streams it on Artvoice.com.
November 2005 » On the Run, a 90-minute documentary by Artvoice on the city’s mayoral race, plays at the Market Arcade during the week preceding the election.
April 2006 » Theater editor Anthony Chase writes a warm and welcoming cover story profiling Kathleen Gaffney, who is taking up the reins at the financially and artistically troubled Studio Arena Theater. Two years later, Chase writes a diplomatic piece explaining why she was being let go: “The financial crisis at Studio Arena Theatre was never Kathleen Gaffney’s fault—not by any measure,” he wrote. “She merely got left holding the bag.” The subsequent shuttering of Studio Arena leaves a giant hole in the theater district, while having the salutary effect of freeing other companies to take on productions they might not have been able to license before.
December 2006 » Home of the Hits, a chapel for cool kids on the Elmwood Strip and breeding ground for a dozen Artvoice music writers, closes its doors after 24 years in the business. Less than two years later, New World Record follows suit.
January 2007 » In a cover story called “No Deal on the Buffalo Casino,” Bruce Jackson reports that Judge William Skretny has ruled that gambling is not legal on the Seneca Gaming Commission’s downtown parcel. That summer, the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino opens for business anyway, in a temporary structure that remains open to this day, despite another, nearly identical ruling by Skretny.
February 2008 » The star-crossed administration of Joel Giambra has just vacated county hall, and former Deputy County Executive Bruce Fisher joins Artvoice as a columnist. Initially Fisher’s brief is to write about the politics of the 2008 presidential election and how they might impact Western New York; before long, he covers planning issues and regional politics as well.
June 2008 » Former Alt reporter John McMahon returns to print with a piece called “The Emperor Has New Clothes,” analyzing Governor David Paterson’s choice of M&T Bank chairman Bob Wilmers to head the powerful Empire State Development Corporation. Wilmers supporters crow that Paterson’s decision represents a stellar opportunity for Western New York. McMahon and Artvoice disagree. One undistinguished year later, Wilmers resigns the position.
August 2008 » In the annual summer guide, Artvoice proposed a list of 100 things a person must do each summer. Matt Chandler, a freelance writer from Blasdell, sets out to do all 100 things, very nearly succeeds, and delivers a nice story about the attempt.
February 2009 » In the pages of the Buffalo News, Artvoice is credited by name for its reporting. (The credit was extended by Michael Beebe, who has since taken a buyout and retired, and the story was the curious case of Syaed Ali, which AV broke.) This is a first: In previous years, the News managed to write even about AV’s annual Mardi Gras party without mentioning the paper by name. But it’s not the last time: In the months to come, News reporters Jim Heaney and Brian Meyer begin to extend credit where it’s due. The shocking part: Their editors allow it.
July 2009 » Art director Betsy Frazer, after 14 years with Artvoice, leaves to start a her own company. Amanda Ferreira (returning to AV after a brief stint in Rochester) and Zachary Burns (a refugee from the failed Seattle Post-Intelligencer) take over and begin to redesign the paper.
September 2009 » Artvoice predicts a close race between Mayor Byron Brown and his challenger, South District Common Councilman Mickey Kearns. Boy, were we wrong. Brown trounces Kearns.
October 2009 » Did Erie County Executive and gubernatorial hopeful Chris Collins really just compare Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver—an Orthodox Jew—to the Anti-Christ? (Sometimes this newspaper just writes itself.) In a cover story that garnered statewide attention, Artvoice reports that Collins had made the same joke before, to a group of Buffalo State College students.
June 1, 2010 » The newspaper continues to search for new ways to reach and serve and engage its readers.
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