Friday, August 16, 2013

Theater director finds train terminals, grain silos perfect for productions

By Carly Lamos
          A central train station laying in complete desolation typically would not be viewed as an empty canvas for theater. Dan Shanahan begged to differ.
           Having worked previously only in traditional theater space, Shanahan, founder of Torn Space Theater, was faced with the challenge of having to design a production that incorporated the Central Terminal on the city’s East Side. Through a month’s worth of hard work and through taking into consideration the building’s architecture, mythology and history, he was able to create a site-specific production at the terminal. 
           “It was something we had never done before,” he said. “We can take it all the way to what I’m doing currently.” 
           Shanahan will be running his newest production “Motion Picture” in Silo City in South Buffalo on Aug. 23 and 24. Using combinations such as 19th century war reenactments, with classical music pieces from Bach and Beethoven, and video projections against the backdrop of the silos, he will form an abstract creation for the audience.
           “Looking at that complex is extremely grand and epic with its height and enormity,” said Shanahan. 
          When asked his foundations for inspiration, he began to delve into his high school years. “My greatest inspiration comes from the cinema,” said Shanahan, adding at a later time, “It was actually something I stumbled upon early in high school.”
           “Now I take a simple or general idea, then build upon influences often from fashion, music, fine arts and cinema and then create a piece from that,” said Shanahan. 
            He then shifted to the discussion of the current production “Motion Picture” and how it was created. 
           “We never would’ve gotten to that if we would not have gone back to the train terminal.”

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Piecing together the past

By Christopher Banks and Natalie Brophy
     He and his staff are the ones who can give people a glimpse into the past, those who make history new again. They put the broken pieces of antiquity back together.
      Patrick Ravines is the chairman and associate professor of the art conservation department at SUNY Buffalo State. He came to the department three years ago and has been sharing his 25 years of experience with his students and staff.
      The art conservation department at Buffalo State is ranked among the top 10 in the world and is one of only four departments in the country that offers a master’s degree in art conservation.
     And the department just got a lot bigger.
      It moved into a new building in January, which allowed the department about 30 percent more room for labs, lounges and a brand new library, which is “the best branch library on campus,” Ravines said.
      These new facilities have allowed Ravines and his team of staff and students to replicate, restore and reconstruct all types of historical artifacts, from paintings and tools to musical instruments.
      Ravines discovered his passion for art conservation in the 1980s. His first degrees were in chemistry, but he has always been interested in history.
      “I always liked rare books, enjoyed bookish materials,” said Ravines. “So I started taking book binding courses and I applied to a program at Columbia University that dealt with library and archival materials and their conservation and restoration.”
      After completing his education, Ravines interned at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. While there, he was given the opportunity of a lifetime to start a conservation lab from the ground up in Israel in October of 1986.
      Ravines always loved working with photography, so in 2005 he returned to the United States for a position at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film where he was a resident for conservation.
      “I always wanted to do more in photography,” Ravines said, “and so I took the two-year position with seven other colleagues from around the world.”
     Drawing on his years of international experience, Ravines is able to teach his students everything they need to know about art conservation. They’re taking advantage of their new facilities, like their X-ray and radiation labs.
      “The future is here, so to speak, in terms of improving the program,” Ravines said.

Curran continues new era at Buffalo State with heavenly guidance from Hollander

By Alexis Greenauer and Joe Kraus
          When Marie Curran first joined Buffalo State’s softball team as an assistant coach in 2010, she hadn’t been coaching for almost two years. But the former All-American catcher knew that her longtime friend and coaching icon Sandy Hollander picked her to join the staff for a reason.
          Perhaps it was because Hollander knew she had little time left.

          In 2012, after the team returned home from a spring break trip to Florida with the team, Hollander passed away suddenly following her five-year battle with colorectal cancer. To this day, Curran has Hollander’s final text message to her, which says, “Great job. Sorry I wasn’t there to see the hitting montage,” which refers to the Bengals’ upset over Plattsburg. Hollander passed away the next day.
          Now entering her second full season as the head coach, Curran recalled how the team came together during that season.
          “The night that she died, some of the players had already known because someone sadly had posted the news on Facebook,” she said.
          That night, the team gathered together for almost eight hours at the dugout. The players told Curran that they didn’t want the season to be delayed.
           Curran asked Buffalo State athletic director Jerry Boyes what they should do. He told her, “Sandy would be mad. Her mindset was it wasn’t about her, it was about the team,” Curran recalled.
The team would win over RIT, 16-11, in their first game with Curran as the interim head coach. They would later go on to qualify for the SUNYAC playoffs.
          “We were a good team that year, but not as good for a team that went as far as we went,” Curran said.
          But the thing that Curran took away from that season was the importance of relationships.
          “It brought us closer together,” she said. “It also made me appreciate relationships more, especially with the athletes.”
          In her first full season as the head coach of the team in 2013, Curran led the Bengals to a 15-19 record. Although it was a losing season for the Bengals, in Curran’s mind, it was a good season that helped strengthen the relationship between the Bengals’ alumni and the current team.  She uses last season as a building block for the coming year.
          The goal for this season’s team is to continue what Hollander brought to Buffalo State a quarter of a century ago: a winning environment. That means the athletes don’t have to necessarily be the most talented, but they have to be humble about the fame and responsible for their actions.
          Curran believes it’s the right formula for success.
           “We’re going to win the conference tournament, be well over .500, hope to play against Cortland in the SUNYAC championship and get to the NCAA tournament,” she said.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Coming soon!

Watch this site for stories produced by students attending the 2013 workshop for high school journalists held from Aug. 12 to Aug. 16 at SUNY Buffalo State.