We recently caught up with Bronwyn Keenan, Director of the Arts Collaboratory at UB’s College of Arts and Sciences who arrived in January of 2019, charged with a mission to create an environment in which collaboration among artists and the community can flourish. Her background includes operating a Manhattan-based gallery for emerging artists, as well as directing special events and projects at both the Solomon Guggenheim and Metropolitan Museums of Art.
After an impressive first year in Buffalo and with only a few weeks into the spring 2020 semester, Covid-19 hit, altering the way in which the Collaboratory could engage with individual artists as well as the greater Buffalo arts community. But in spite of the logistical changes that were necessary to keep the program vibrant and relevant during the pandemic, the semester was extremely successful. “I’m so impressed with the creative people who have kept the cultural heart of the city beating, in spite of the hardships we’ve all faced this year,” she says. “Buffalo’s got a lot of moxie and grit.”
This fall, a major Collaboratory initiative is the creation of the “Buffalo Arts Calendar,” a comprehensive listing of artists and arts-related activities and performances. This is a one-stop, free-of-charge, ever evolving listing of every exhibition, show, gig, festival, reading, opening and performance in the Buffalo region. Everyone is invited to post, schedule and browse. Artists and arts organizations can create a listing at www.buffaloartscalendar.com.
In conjunction with the launch of the Calendar is the companion exhibition, “Show Your Work,” organized by Jacob Vogan. With Depression-era photographer Walker Evans in mind, Vogan is creating an ongoing photographic portrait of the arts community, installed on the walls of the atrium at UB’s Center for the Arts. This is a tribute to artists who’ve produced work over the course of the pandemic and beyond, and will grow over time as more of the Buffalo arts community is documented.
There are numerous strategic programs in place that adapt to the restrictions of distance learning and limited classroom (and human) contact. Under the semester’s banner, “Let’s Make Art,” the Collaboratory is currently participating in Art Play/Ground, the outdoor installation that concludes on September 20th.
The Collaborative is working with the innovative arts collective, Art Dealer (lead image), to introduce the multi-disciplinary talent associated with Buffalo’s hip-hop scene to the general public. Members of the collective take over the storefront windows of Buffalo Center for the Arts and Technology (ARTSPACE) from noon to 4:00 PM on Saturday, September 19th. Behind the windows, the socially-distanced musicians, poets, visual artists and clothing designers will be filmed for the IGTV show, “Outside Influence” hosted by ToneyBoi. The action inside will be amplified onto the sidewalk so viewers can safely experience the ongoing performances, live painting and fashion show. More info can be found at www.artplayground.ny.com
“We believe collaboration, not isolation, fosters creativity,” said Keenan. “And if we’re going to change the world for the better, we’ll need the best ideas, the most powerful voices and entire army of creators and artists.”
For more information on the Arts Collaboratory visit www.ubartscollaboratory.com.
Above images courtesy Jacob Vogan
Following Art Dealer photo gallery is courtesy Brett Deneve: