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Bruce Fisher book talk TONIGHT at BPAC

Note: Tonight’s Book Talk is part of M&T Second Friday at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center

This spring marks the launch of a new book and a new press in Buffalo. The Public Books, an imprint of Foundlings Press, debuts with a book of writing about our city and region by SUNY Buffalo State College Professor Bruce Fisher. The book comprises a collection of updated essays originally published over the last decade in several local publications including, notably, The Public, whose media family The Public Books now joins.

Launch of The Public Books is symbiotic for The Public and Foundlings Press, Aidan Ryan told me. It also came about in a very Buffalo way, in a conversation at a coffee shop. Ever since he left Artvoice to found new alt-weekly The Public, Geoff Kelly wanted to create a sister press for publishing books. At the same time Foundlings, which evolved from poetry publication Foundlings Magazine had been looking for partnerships for nonfiction publication. Its first product seems to be an auspicious start.

About Where The Streets Are Paved With Rust: Essays From America’s Broken Heartland, The Public Books says,

In these essays about Rust Belt communities, Fisher carefully but vigorously challenges. He tackles real-estate developers; knocks liberals who won’t embrace metro government; excoriates conservatives for their racist code-words; nudges us to revisit the debate between Heidegger and Cassirer; and explains the brilliance of streetcars and urban wildlife, the persistence of black male workforce exclusion, the centrality of water quality, and many other issues that shape cities. Fisher takes deep dives into data, scholarship, and history — as he does nearly weekly for The Public, Western New York’s leading independent weekly newspaper.

I will have a review of the book in the July issue of Buffalo Spree.

It is so appropriate that author Bruce Fisher will give his inaugural book talk at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center, as it provided nearly a dozen works that are reproduced throughout the volume. Although Fisher told me in a recent interview at the Burchfield-Penney that he intended the content to be applicable and relevant throughout the Rust Belt – a region he defines broadly enough to include formerly industrial cities such as Baltimore – the writing and the art together make it clear that this is a book deeply rooted in our city and region.

About the art, The Public Books says,

The gallery will be displaying all of the images that grace the book – most of which came from the Buchfield Penney’s collection, including paintings by Charles E. Burchfield, Alexander O. Levy, Anthony J. Sisti, and more. The gallery will also be displaying the book’s striking cover image – an oil painting with a fiery backdrop of Buffalo’s industrial landscape by Virginia Cuthbert – which comes from a private collector and is not normally available for public viewing.

The Burchfield-Penney also has several outstanding exhibits to see this Second Friday, including Suddenly I Awoke: The Dream Journals of Charles E. Burchfield, Time Travel in the Burchfield Archives: Philip Koch, and Merton & Lax: Image and Word.

Next week, on Wednesday, May 16, Talking Leaves Books will host Fisher for “Where The Streets Are Paved With Rust: Buffalo’s Renaissance Reexamined,” a critical evaluation of the premises of Buffalo’s alleged “renaissance.” Fisher’s talk will touch on several chapters from his book. The event will conclude with a Q&A.

Details on both events are below:

May 11: Burchfield Penney Art Center, 1300 Elmwood Avenue, 5:30PM – 8PM

  • M&T Second Fridays
  • Gallery display of all artwork from the collection
  • Book sales and signing
  • Beer, wine, and snacks

May 16: Talking Leaves Books, 951 Elmwood Avenue, 7PM – 9PM

  • “Where The Streets Are Paved With Rust: Buffalo’s Renaissance Reexamined”
  • Author talk and Q&A
  • Book sales and signing
  • Wine

Written by RaChaCha


RaChaCha is a Garbage Plate™ kid making his way in a Chicken Wing world. Since 2008, he's put over a hundred articles on here, and he asked us to be sure to thank you for reading. So, thank you for reading. You may also have seen his freelance byline in Artvoice, where he writes under the name his daddy gave him [Ed: Send me a check, and I might reveal what that is]. When he's not writing, RaChaCha is an urban planner, a rehabber of houses, and a community builder. He co-founded the Buffalo Mass Mob, and would love to see you at the next one. He represents Buffalo Young Preservationists on the Trico roundtable. If you try to demolish a historic building, he might have something to say about that. He is a proud AmeriCorps alum.

Things you may not know about RaChaCha (unless you read this before): "Ra Cha Cha" is a nickname of his hometown. (Didn't you know that? Do you live under a rock?) He's a political junkie (he once worked for the president of the Monroe County Legislature), but we don't really let him write about politics on here. He helped create a major greenway in the Genesee Valley, and worked on early planning for the Canalway Trail. He hopes you enjoy biking and hiking on those because that's what he put in all that work for. He was a ringleader of the legendary "Chill the Fill" campaign to save Rochester's old downtown subway tunnel. In fact, he comes from a long line of troublemakers. An ancestor fought at Bunker Hill, and a relative led the Bear Flag Revolt in California. We advise you to remember this before messing with him in the comments. He worked on planning the Rochester ARTWalk, and thinks Buffalo should have one of those, too (write your congressman).

You can also find RaChaCha (all too often, we frequently nag him) on the Twitters at @HeyRaChaCha. Which is what some people here yell when they see him on the street. You know who you are.

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