It’s a prevailing attitude among many new students, and even some returning students: “There’s nothing to do here in bumf—k Buffalo!”
Even I’ve fallen victim to this prejudice against mid-sized cities. Up until my junior year, I rarely left campus except for necessities or the occasional social gathering — I barely knew what Buffalo had to offer.
Even those who do find their way into the city usually remain within the confines of the densely packed areas of college nightlife near South Campus or Downtown.
But outside of nightlife, Buffalo has hotspots of artistic fervor that are worth exploring — and they just might change your opinion about Buffalo.
Alleyway Theatre — 1 Curtain Up Alley
The Alleyway Theatre, which was formerly a Greyhound Bus station in the 1940s, has supported new talent from across the country since its founding in 1980.
The theater commits to producing six to seven plays each year, including traditional productions like “A Christmas Carol.” Its premier feature this season is the “Life and Slimes of Marc Summer,” starring Summers himself, which narrates his path to becoming a television personality on Nickelodeon’s “Double Dare” and Food Network’s “Unwrapped.”
Amy’s Place — 3234 Main St.
This vegetarian and vegan restaurant doesn’t just serve the taste buds of Buffalo with Lebanese and American flair — it also serves the eyes and ears of Buffalo with art, comedy and music. The hand-drawn, art-covered walls invite you to connect to the artists performing improv, poetry, punk, drag and so much more during its closing hours.
Book Arts Center — 468 Washington St.
This part-gallery, part-shop and part-studio dedicates itself to the book-related arts. They preserve the global, thousand-year-old practices that go into creating books, such as printmaking, paper-making, calligraphy, origami and book-binding. The center often hosts exhibitions for visitors to indulge in the versatility of book and printmaking artists, including visiting professors from UB like Christina Corfield, whose work on programmed paper was shown last spring. The center also hosts workshops for visitors to learn how to bring these practices to life, with prices for non-members starting at $50.
Buffalo Albright Knox Gundlach (AKG) Museum — 1285 Elmwood Ave.
The Buffalo Albright Knox Gundlach (AKG) Art Museum reopened this past summer after its nearly four-year restoration period. It is separated into three buildings, with each gallery focusing on a certain time period or art movement. The museum hosts a broad collection of impressionist, modernist and abstract works from artists like Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O’Keefe and Pablo Picasso, respectively.
On exhibition now is Lucas Samaras’ “Mirrored Room.” In addition to being a local selfie hotspot, the exhibit allows visitors to reflect literally and figuratively on their own community.
Center for Exploratory and Perceptual Arts (CEPA) Gallery — 617 Main St., apartment 201
This center primarily showcases works of photography and visual arts in three galleries, along with programming for people interested in these forms of art-making. It hosts classes on film, digital photography and compositional approaches to photography starting at $60, in addition to their open-access darkroom and digital photo lab. Current exhibitions include an installation of photographic works from students using traditional, digital or hybrid techniques and an installation from artist Joe Ziolkowski on the existentialism in the art of self-portraiture.
UB Center for the Arts Gallery — 103 Center for the Arts
UB Anderson Gallery — 1 Martha Jackson Place
With one gallery located right on North Campus, and one located a few blocks away from South Campus, the UB Galleries host exhibitions year-round featuring student artists and artists from beyond Buffalo.
The exhibition “FUTURA2000: Breaking Out” opens in both galleries on Sept. 23. This installation recounts FUTURA’s influential role in masterfully blending arts and graffiti, a craft that has gotten him from painting subway cars to painting for the runways of Japanese luxury brand, Commes Des Garçons. FUTURA has also created album art for the English rock band, The Clash, and painted backdrops live during their European tour.
Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center — 341 Delaware Ave.
Since 1974, Hallwalls has encouraged the intersection of various art forms, from literature to visual and media arts to science and art cabaret. Its current visual arts programming features the duo Virocode, whose art embraces media as having pluralistic meaning, champions its roots in nature and humans, and strives to capture our “collective relationship to the Anthropocene.”
Operating out of a basement, this queer-ran venue features local artists from Buffalo and those just passing through. It boasts incredibly versatile lineups, with performing acts ranging from punk, rock and grunge to experimental, pop and country. On whichever day you find yourself descending the steps into this intimate venue, you are bound to hear original sounds that will expand your musical palette.
North Park Theatre — 1428 Hertel Ave.
This historic and grand single-screen theater will leave you mesmerized, both by the architecture and by the film you just watched.
The original owner in the 1920s, Michael Shea, believed that “a movie theater should capture the imaginations of filmgoers as soon as they enter the building.” As the theater deteriorated over time, local defense attorney Tom Eoannou wanted to restore the theater back to its original glory —the theater that Shea envisioned.
Since its restoration in 2014, the theater has continued its tradition of transporting moviegoers to the films it screens with its wide selection of indie, global, box-office and classic films.
Screening Room and Cinema Arts Café — 880 Alberta Dr.
Since 1994, this locally owned café has specialized in screening films of the past, as well as hosting nights filled with live music, poetry readings, trivia and comedy. The non-theatrical structure allows audience members to interact much more seamlessly, as they view the film in the same area where they buy their concessions. Their upcoming showings include “The Breakfast Club” (1985), a 4K restoration of “Suspiria” (1977) and “Slap Shot” (1977).
Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center — 2495 Main St., apartment 310
Squeaky Wheel is the only organization in Western New York dedicated to supporting the experimentation and education of film and media arts.
Their annual Animation Fest, which takes place between July and November, spotlights personal yet innovative modes of animated storytelling from artists documenting the traumatic experiences of being a woman to the dream-like state of being a teenager. The center hosts artists from across the globe who offer insights on filmmaking without cameras, interacting textiles with media and the cultural contexts of sounds.
The Colored Musicians Club and Jazz Museum — 145 Broadway Ave.
Since 1935, this club has served as a space for musicians to gather after work. Even legends like Billie Holiday and Nat King Cole stepped foot into this space duringBuffalo’s very own jazz era. The club now works to preserve the historical origination of jazz from Black people through education as well as musical performances.
Tenzin Wodhean is an arts editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org