Aug 31, 2011 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
Bruce Jackson is Buffalo’s Brahmin of pop culture.
The big, barrel-chested, bearded dude might look like just another aging hippie, but he’s a bona fide international hero of arts, letters, films and photography.
Jackson’s most recent photo exhibit, “American Chartres: Buffalo’s Waterfront Elevators” hangs through Oct. 28 at the Erie Canal Museum, 318 Erie Boulevard East, behind City Hall, downtown.
The French poet Dominique Fourcade saw the elevators during a visit to Buffalo a few years ago. He was awed by their size and beauty and he inspired the name of Jackson’s exhibit.
“This is the American Chartres,” Fourcade exclaimed.
‘Current urban landscape’
“American Chartres” documents the grain elevators that remain standing along Buffalo’s harbor as part of the urban landscape. Grain elevators were invented in Buffalo in the 1840s, and the city once had more than 30 working elevators. Today, few remain in use, others are empty, but many have been destroyed.
Although these Jackson snapshots capture vintage structures such as the Great Northern Elevator built in 1897 and the Agway Elevator build in 1909, the photographer insists that the exhibit is much more than a document of historic architectural remnants.
While he admits that the remaining grain elevators stand as “architectural monuments to an industrial past that will never come again,” he adds that “they are also magnificent pieces of Buffalo’s current urban landscape — and that’s what these photographs are about. They are about the visual present, not the imagined past.”
‘The myth of Newport’
Speaking of the imagined past, Jackson has written and spoken out to clear up a common misunderstanding about the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, where he was one of the directors. Plenty of people believe that Bob Dylan was booed off the stage there on July 25, 1965, after playing three tunes with an electric rock band.
Not so, says Jackson.
Instead, he calls the incident “the myth of Newport.” In 2002, he reviewed an audio tape of the controversial concert. Jackson contends that the booing was directed at Peter Yarrow, who upset the crowd when he attempted to keep Dylan’s spot to its pre-determined length of three songs.
Jackson maintains there’s nothing to indicate the crowd disliked Dylan’s music, electrified or not.
Artist’s reception Wednesday
You can chat with Jackson about that and about his spectacular photos at a public reception for “American Chartres” from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7. Guests will enjoy hors d’oeuvres and cash bar catered by Anthony’s Pasta Bar. The reception is free and open to the public. Jackson will give a gallery talk at 6 p.m.
The James Agee Professor of American Culture at SUNY Buffalo, in 2002 the French government named him Chevalier in L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He is the author or editor of 30 books and has had 20 solo photography exhibits. You can visit Jackson’s website at acsu.buffalo.edu/~bjackson.
The Erie Canal Museum is open seven days a week: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m Sunday. Admission is free, although donations sre accepted. Group tours are available by appointment; 471-0593.
Witkin: before & after
Arguably the greatest painter ever to work in Syracuse, Jerome Witkin, will launch a major exhibit of his otherworldly work with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8, at Syracuse University Art Gallery, accessible through the Shaffer Art Building on the SU campus.
“Drawn to Paint: The Art of Jerome Witkin” consists of 70 drawings, paintings and sketchbooks. Dividing the show between two venues, allowing for broader access and engagement within the community, “Drawn to Paint” will also be on view at the SUArt Galleries on the Syracuse University main campus and the XL Projects gallery at the SU Warehouse at the corner of West Fayette and West streets, downtown. This exhibition, curated by Dr. Edward Aiken, is the first time Jerome Witkin has allowed his drawings to be displayed beside their finished works. “Drawn to Paint” will travel to other museums around the country during a two-year tour.
MacDonald’s African roots
The same days as the Witkin reception, noted Syracuse ceramicist David MacDonald will discuss his artwork at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8, at the Everson Museum of Art, 401 Harrison St., downtown.
His solo exhibit, “The Power of Pattern: New Work,” which includes monumental figurative vessels, plates and planter forms, will be on display at the Everson through Sept. 18.
MacDonald’s artist statement reads, “The principle concern of my art is the articulation of the magnificence and nobility of the human spirit; a celebration of my African heritage.”
While he’s now exploring traditional quilt patterns and intricate European pattern designs, the textile decorations and body ornamentalism from sub-Sahara Africa continue to inform MacDonald’s work; everson.org; 474-6064.
Russ Tarby’s column appears weekly in The Eagle and online at theeaglecny.com. He also covers the arts and sports. Reach him at email@example.com.