Summer Guide: From Plasticiens Volants to Pride, highlights of a summer in music and arts | Arts

In-person events of both the large-scale and intimate variety return with a vengeance this summer. The summer’s overarching theme might be seen as a hard-earned celebration of gathering en masse to enjoy the arts, and the sense of community that enjoyment fosters.

Whether that means immersing yourself in the jubilation of the return of an in-person Pride Festival at Canalside, basking in the low-key vibe of musical offerings in the Elmwood Village, or venturing to the Buffalo Outer Harbor to indulge in some world-class EDM, there’s more on offer this summer than there has been since the pre-Covid good old days of summer, 2019.

Here’s a list of some enticing summer events and shows, notable for their broad range and diversity of programming.

AK Teens: Museum Ambassadors – Celebrate

June 3 at Albright-Knox Northland

“In These Truths,” an exhibition of works by Black artists, co-curated by two of Buffalo’s most incisive and in-tune creators, Edreys Wajed and Aitina Fareed-Cooke, runs at the Albright-Knox Northland through June 5. On June 3, the AK Teens – a group of high school juniors and seniors enrolled in the Albright-Knox’s museum education program – will present their own curated evening with performances, a scavenger hunt, music, a movie, food, and art-making activities celebrating the exhibition. What a great opportunity for “kids” of all ages to engage with the arts in a personal manner.

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Pride Festival Canalside

Pride Week returns with a festival and parade on June 5.

Buffalo News file photo

June 5 at the Buffalo Pride Festival, Canalside

The Burchfield Penney Art Center is teaming with Torn Space Theater Company to present the multimedia piece, “Camp Everything,” designed by artist Adam Weekley. Debuting at the Buffalo Pride Festival, it’s described by the Burchfield Penney as “part mobile installation, part performance piece… (borrowing) from nostalgic memories and impressions of 1980’s summer camps in an effort to create a whimsical world of inclusiveness and celebration.” Weekley has said that “Camp Everything” was inspired by live-action children’s shows like “The Muppets” and “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” and is meant to celebrate the ideas of kindness, diversity and acceptance. It’s always the right time for this kind of celebration. The Pride Festival runs from 1 to 7 pm June 5 at Canalside. The Pride Parade begins at 11 am at Elmwood and Forest avenues, ending at Allen Street.

Strawberry Moon Artpark

The Smoke Dance competition at the Strawberry Moon Festival Saturday at Artpark in 2019.

Harry Scull Jr./News file photo

Noon, June 18 at Artpark, Lewiston

Artpark’s third annual Strawberry Moon Festival finds Canadian alt-folk favorites Blue Rodeo and Inuit soul/funk ensemble Pamuya headlining an evening concert that caps a day of music, dance and the arts celebrating the culture of the indigenous peoples of Western New York and Southern Ontario. There will be a musical tribute to the late Joanne Shenandoah, a trailblazer in the world of Indigenous music, who was known for her fearless and forward-looking ability to marry traditional, ancestral melodies to contemporary song structures. The Smoke Dance Competition is an awesome ceremony that finds dancers blending traditional warrior dances with freestyle moves.

Picnic in the Parkway

The lawn in Bidwell Park is often crowded during the free summer concert series Picnic in the Parkway.

Harry Scull Jr./News file photo

Bidwell Parkway Summer Concert Series

Tuesdays at 7 pm from June 21 through Aug. 9 at Bidwell Parkway

This free summer concert series is both family-friendly and smartly curated. In a chilled out environment, you can catch bands that run the gamut from jazz to classical, reggae-dub to Latin funk and more. Here’s the 2022 lineup: June 21, Brian Dunne; June 28, George Caldwell and Star People; July 5, Olmsted Dub System; July 12, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; July 19, RNSM; July 26, Creek Bend; Aug. 2, Buffalo Loves the ’90s with the Ed Wyner Band; and Aug. 9, Tom Stahl and the Dangerfields.

Starts at noon on June 26 on Elmwood Village (1000 – 1010 block)

The inaugural run of the Elmwood Summerfest will find 15 bands performing on a large stage on Elmwood Avenue, contests, games, and food and beverages. The festival’s artist lineup includes bands from Buffalo and Rochester, among them Sideways, Witty Tarbox, Farrow, Folkfaces, Well Worn Boot, and Kevin Sampson and the Night Shift. Tickets are $25; $50 VIP.

Summer of Love ’22: A Buffalo Homage to the Monterey Pop Festival

4 p.m. Aug. 20 at Riverfest Park

The Buffalo Music Coalition – the same folks responsible for 2019’s successful “Western New York Woodstock” mini-fest at Riverfest Park – celebrate the iconic Monterey International Pop Festival of 1967. Local musicians will gather to re-create sets from the Association, Jefferson Airplane , the Who, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Ravi Shankar Laura Nyro and others.

Plasticiens Volants: Leonardo, Dreams & Nightmares

8 p.m. Aug. 20 at Artpark, Lewiston

Plasticiens Volants, a nearly 50-year-old street theater company born in Toulouse, France, routinely blows minds around the globe with its vibrant, alternately soothing and surreal performances employing massive hand-painted inflatable creations. Artpark has hosted the troupe twice – in 2017, when Plasticiens Volants debuted its “Big Bang” production, and in 2019, when “Pearl” received its US premiere. This year, Plasticiens Volants brings a new production celebrating the multidisciplinary mashups and unfettered creative prowess of Leonardo da Vinci. “Leonardo wanted to paint the wind,” writes Artistic Director Thierry Collin on the PV web site. “In his wake from him, Plasticiens Volants reinvent the master’s fantasies by sculpting the air.”

Big Bang Plasticiens Volants Artpark

Plasticiens Volants’ “Big Bang” received its US premiere at Artpark in 2017. The company returns to the Lewistin venue this summer with a new production celebrating the imagination of Leonardo da Vinci.


Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts

Aug. 27 and 28, Elmwood Village

There will be 170 artists, four stages with music, dance and puppetry, a broad array of international food with vegetarian and vegan options, all on offer in the neighborhood that has long been the creative hub of the Buffalo arts community – that’s the Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts in a nutshell. Originally conceived as a community-based, localized answer to the increasingly commercial Allentown Art Festival, EAFA has evolved into one of the premier annual fests in the region.

6 p.m. Sept. 17 at Lakeside Lawn, Buffalo Outer Harbor

Born Joel Zimmerman and raised in Niagara Falls, Canada, the producer and DJ known as Deadmau5 (pronounced “dead mouse”), is widely regarded as one of contemporary electronic music’s most adventurous and influential artists. Grabbing a Deadmau5 gig for the new Lakeside lawn at the Buffalo Outer Harbor was a better score for Buffalo – even more so when we consider the fact that this show will be the artist’s first gig in Western New York.

Borderland Music & Arts Festival

Sept. 17-18, Knox Farm State Park, East Aurora

Though the lineup has not yet been revealed, the Borderland Music & Arts festival has evolved into a fittingly festive way to bid adieu to the summer.


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