Rockin’ in the rain: Music is Art Festival rocks Delaware Park


Goo Goo Dolls bassist and Buffalo native Robby Takac, founder of non-profit organization Music is Art, and John Rzeznik put on a special performance Saturday night in their hometown.

The band played a free show in Delaware Park as part of the Music is Art Festival and despite rainy, cold and dreary September weather, no one’s parade seemed to be rained on. Crowds of hooded teenagers shuffled passed the gates and elderly couples held hands under umbrellas.

Founded in 2003 by Takac, Music is Art is a non-profit organization that educates communities across the country about music as an intrinsic form of expression. It seeks to empower the fragile and unconfident, encouraging those who want to amend the cultural impact music has on society.

Buffalo hosted the 13th annual Music is Art Festival Saturday. The festival ran all day, featuring performances by more than 100 bands from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. spread out over eight stages scattered in Delaware Park behind the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

Many of the acts that performed in Delaware Park on Saturday are local artists looking to gain more exposure in Buffalo’s music and art scene. Buffalo natives Willie Nile, Green Jelly and Tension rocked the main stage alongside the Japanese band, Qrion.

While some performers want to make their dreams a reality, others simply create music for their own enjoyment. Kristy Cardinelli, girlfriend of DJ Jolly Wailer, fidgeted by the lakeside tent anxiously awaiting her boyfriend’s set. She warmed her hands in the pockets of her red coat, trying to stay warm despite the rain.

“For him, it’s not his job. It’s something that he loves. It’s [the festival] just a chance for him to do it. It’s not for money or recognition,” Cardinelli said.

Wailer is a jazz musician first and a DJ second – the festival is simply another day for him to experiment outside of jazz.

“It’s a chance for him to be a part of the community of musicians and other people in Buffalo,” Cardinelli said.

Music is Art offers youth a variety of programs that not only help to cultivate a growing pool of musical talent, but also allows individuals to freely express themselves in the comfort of a supportive community. It offers a five-week URock! Mentor Program that allows interested students to gain experience in areas of leadership, marketing, merchandising and recording. The organization also funds the Rising Star Scholarship to provide musical education to youth in the community.

Success from Music is Art has lead to the creation of one-year program Music in Action, where participating students learn the business behind music and acquire the necessary skills to be involved in the industry.

While some music-lovers danced until they were out of breath, other audience members were mellower. Theresa Peters, a junior at Sweet Home High School, stood with her mother in front of the main stage listening to Dream Spectrum, an instrumental, hard rock quartet whose style ranges from melodic blues to jazzy progressive rock.

“The [Goo Goo Dolls]are more my style,” Peters said.

She said she didn’t know any of the less prominent bands – both she and her mother said they were there for the food.

Although the festival focused mainly on music, it also featured other styles of visual and fine arts such as dance, poetry and sculpting.

Renowned artist Phillip Burke, whose work has been featured in Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, the New York Times, Slate and GQ, displayed his skills during live painting sessions. Burke is known for depicting humans as distorted figures, accentuating the peculiarity of their forms.

Baltimore native Jess Pfohl presented Sexposé, a mixed media exhibition that shows mannequins reconstructed from recycled materials exposing the plateau of sexual progression.

The constant rain Saturday even helped one artist’s work.

Lena Scapillato, a 2012 Buffalo State graduate of metal smithing and jewelry design, showcased a unique garment installation that displayed both fabric and sculpture manipulation.

Scapillato covered an A-line skirt with paper bags, creating a three-dimensional “Marie Antoinette” garment for an historic look into high-style fashion shows.

“I wanted to do something that would be altered by the weather,” Scapillato said, predicting the rain for this year’s festival since it had also rained the two previous years.

With the weather in mind, she completed her garment, hoping it would ultimately reflect her theme.

“The paper bags were beautiful and snipped beforehand,” Scapillato said. “Then with the weather they looked wilted and sad, which kind of goes along with the weather.”

She then spray painted the bags to emphasize the gloomy and depressing nature of her piece.

Scapillato’s artistic expression almost contradicts the accepted idea that art reflects emotion. Her work focuses more on the distortion of the body, but not in the sense that one would assume.

More often than not, an artist’s emotions are reflected in their work to give them relatable significance, but Scapillato does not create for the purpose of self-reflection. Rather, she creates to reshape and redesign.

“I can’t do it because if I put emotion in my stuff, I think I would be reminded of it every time I looked at it, and I would hate it,” Scapillato said.

She refers to her style as “romanticizing the ugly.”

To her, art is not one-dimensional, nor is it abstract or straightforward – to her, art is life.

Alexandra Saleh is an assistant arts editor and can be reached at