The Burchfield Penney Art Center kicks off a four-day festival today at 6 p.m. highlighting Western New York’s contributions to national underground culture.
The festival, dubbed “Testify” and linked to the Burchfield Penney exhibitions “Spain: Rock, Roll Rumbles and Revolution” and “McCallum/Tarry: Intersections,” which are closing soon, is the first in a new quarterly series of four-day “launches.”
The concept, which Burchfied director Anthony Bannon announced as part of a series of initiatives at the museum Tuesday, is an evolution of the Burchfield Penney’s former biannual “RendezBlue” festivals. According to Don Metz, the center’s associate director for public programs and the main organizer of “Testify,” this programming will be more ambitious and wide-ranging.
“The ‘RendezBlue’ [events] were tight in terms of dealing with a single artist or a single exhibition. These are broad, and they focus more on cultural themes like the environment,” Metz said.
“Testify” will include the presentation of a film by director A.P. Ferullo that is headed for the Toronto International Film Festival, as well as performances from photographer Ralph Gibson and singer and poet Ed Sanders of the storied folk-satire band The Fugs.
The weekend will also be filled with special presentations and lectures, from a talk with artists Jacqueline Tarry and Bradley McCallum to a presentation of the film “El Che,” about Ernesto “Che” Guevara – a key figure in the Rodriguez show – introduced by Burchfield Penney associate curator and Buffalo State College professor Albert Michaels.
Visitors, Metz said, will get “a broad view of underground culture and some of the people from Western New York who were important in that movement in the ’60s and ’70s.”
A closer look at the events:
• 8 p.m. today: A screening of A.P. Ferullo’s newest film, “Unrepentant,” about a strange vacation shared by a mother and her young son and starring Yuri Lowenthal and Arianne Recto. The film will have its official premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. But Ferullo, who grew up in Williamsville and co-created the beloved neon tango dancers sign at Elmwood Avenue and Bidwell Parkway before making a name for himself in New York City and beyond, will present a preview of the film to local audiences. The museum will also screen two more of Ferullo’s films, “We Wish to Thank...” from 1971 and “The unanimous Declaration of the 13 united States of America” from 1975, at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
• 8 p.m. Friday: A performance by renowned photographer Ralph Gibson, whose instantly recognizable high-contrast photographs appear in many major international collections and whose 30-plus photography books have influenced the field of art photography over the past half-century. He’ll present his original film, photography and guitar piece “Ich Bin die Nacht (I am the Night).”
• 8 p.m. Saturday: A performance by Ed Sanders, the singer, poet and writer responsible for major works such as “The Family,” a look at the cult of Charles Manson. Sanders also chronicled the Beat generation in his four-volume “Tales of Beatnik Glory.” Sanders was the leader of the ’60s folk-satire outfit The Fugs, published a famous underground magazine with an unprintable name, and has won the American Book Award as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim foundation and the National Foundation for the Arts.
The weekend also includes a discussion on the alternative press with Artvoice editor Geoff Kelly and “Spain” co-curator and Hallwalls Director Edmund Cardoni at 2 p.m. Saturday, a visual poetry performance by Steve McCaffery and Michael Basinski at 4 p.m. Saturday, and a conversation with artists McCallum, Tarry and curator Scott Propeak at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
A full list of the weekend’s activities is online at www.burchfieldpenney.org. Admission to the center is $10 for adults; free with membership. Parking is available nearby on the Buffalo State College.