What a feast indeed for the ears, eyes, stomach and even the soul. This year's Music is Art Festival, which drew thousands of people to Delaware Park last Saturday, was a huge success, enriching all who attended with creative music and art.

The festival displayed Western New York's culture and its imaginative, expressive array of music and art that has made Buffalo the "New York City of Western New York," as one volunteer at the festival, Antoine Barnes of Lackawanna, put it.

The festival took place on a beautiful, cool and crisp day in Delaware Park across from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. For the past three years, the festival had been located on the art gallery grounds, but the location change was due to construction at the gallery.

The music, which was performed on five stages, was mostly rock, but all genres were represented. It was very lively, loud and provocative, causing loud stirs from the audience. More than 50 bands performed. In addition, there were 50 displaying artists, photographers and other organizations, as well as 12 dance groups and more than a dozen DJs. There also were performers and festivalgoers at the entrance who were juggling spinning plates with sticks.

This year's festival also included many temporary tattoo stations and places for people to get their hair done in outlandish styles. There were many demonstrations of living art, such as a group of men covered in fake blood with axes in their heads and another man peacefully meditating in silence.

Lance Diamond, a Buffalo musician and popular radio talk show host, even made a stunning appearance at the festival, entirely clad in bright silver.

The theme for this year's festival was "Dress to Express," and there were many people with unconventional outfits and hairdos. Some had exotically colored hair and wore eye-catching pieces of clothing. One person had painted his whole upper body to resemble a giraffe.

There was a gigantic red and pink dress called Fleur Du Jour (Flower of the Day) at the entrance of the festival. It was covered with flowers of all sorts, including many roses to match the color scheme of the park's Rose Garden.

Barnes, a fashion student at Villa Maria College, was manning the dress sculpture. A model was selected to don the dress at the end of the day. Barnes said he is into fashion and wanted to highlight its importance.

"Buffalo's culture has a lot to do with fashion as well," he said.

There was another dress made out of CDs, vinyl albums and instruments, including many drums. Kids who walked by this dress enjoyed playing the instruments on the skirt.

The festival serves mainly to celebrate Buffalo's cultural arts that cater to young people. There were many bands comprised of teenagers, including the 2011 Music is Art Battle of the Bands winner the Brass Monkeez from Lewiston-Porter High School.

One band that missed the deadline for this year's festival but is planning on playing next year is Victory for Poland, which was selling its CDs at a stand.

Tylor Colby, a 17-year-old member of the band, attends Sweet Home High School and plays bass and guitar and sings. He said he got the band's name due to the fact that his girlfriend and her family are Polish.

"Music is a big part of my life," he said. "We have been coming here the past two years, and it's great to see Buffalo's amazing culture every year, especially the music."

Tylor said he enjoys listening to the band Ould Pound.

Mark Bougil, a model, was involved in the festival as a DJ and says he always comes to the festival because it is so much fun. He said he found out about dubstep, a genre of electric dance music, from this festival, and he has liked it ever since.

"The festival is very awesome, and I love the atmosphere," Mark said. "I especially like hearing songs from artists living right here in the city."

Mark was even following the "Dress to Express" theme, wearing a T-shirt covered with writing and drawings.

Melissa Keller, 16, who attends Eden Central High school, was helping make a video for the festival with some of her friends.

"I love the music especially," she said, "but I also enjoy the various dance groups and all the muralists who come to the festival."

She said she doesn't just come to hear one music group in particular, but she comes to see all the things that are going on, saying the festival is a lot of fun.

Patrick Dokey, 13, an eighth-grader at Frederick Law Olmsted at Kensington School, said he really enjoys the festival and decided to volunteer this year.

"Great people come here, and you see a lot of amazing culture when you walk around at the festival," said Patrick. "There is also a lot of great food!"

Cailey Patano, 16, a junior at Maryvale High School, said she loves coming to the festival to see all different people.

"Everyone I meet is so friendly here at the festival, and the musicians here are so talented," she said.

There was also a lot of dancing at the festival. One company called ZPAC is comprised of many young girls. They dance to mostly eclectic jazz and hip-hop. One of the performers, 19-year-old college student Kelsey Anderson, said she loves dancing and enjoys working hard for others to watch and enjoy.

ZPAC does "performances with a purpose," owner Stacy Zawadzki-Janusz said. Its performances include a script with characters, dancing and singing.

"We try to be very creative in our performances," Zawadzki-Janusz said. "I am very proud of these girls and their accomplishments."

The festival's art is quite unique, eccentric, colorful and modern. The bold artwork practically jumps out at festivalgoers. Some of the pieces are gruesome, displaying skulls, bodies with no heads, scorpions, monsters, skeletons and even zombies. There were also many sculptures and graffiti walls.

A combination of different talents was displayed at the festival, ranging from musical flair to ingenious pieces of art. Everyone in attendance seemed to enjoy basking in the city's culture.


Michael Khan is a sophomore at Canisius High School.