Next Buffalo speaker

Andrea Wenglowskyj

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May 12, 8:30am • BCBS of WNY • part of a series on Serendipity

Welcome to our monthly interview series, #buffaloiscreative, introducing stellar members of our CMbuf community. Make sure to update your profile for an opportunity to be featured on our blog, newsletter and social media accounts!

Meet Claudia Carballada, an artist whose practice is rooted in drawing and painting, and extends to installation and performance. 

What is your special creative force?

This is something that is challenging to bring solidity to. For me, the energy of this force is primordial. It is beyond the beyond, flows through me and manifests itself physically. You just ‘do’ because you just can’t help yourself, there is nothing else. The poet Federico Garcia Lorca calls it ‘duende’. Its almost like a spirit! It’s a heightened awareness on an energetic level that is bursting with inspiration and commands one to take action. For me it activates at various levels, mostly in translating energy - movement, emotion, light (color) - in a physical way though painting, drawing, sculpture and manipulating space for theatrical performance. So I tend to gravitate intuitively toward things that awaken this. For instance, my work appears very figurative and organic. The mark making is gestural, it is a translation of this energy. Specific things that ignite this are dance, architecture, nature, or something of a lyrical world that is non tangible!

In the spirit of April2017’s theme, #CMbeyond, can you talk about a time where you stretched yourself beyond your normal limits to achieve something wonderful?
Getting a Masters degree in Fine Art. A fantastical dream that I never considered a possibility. I have to admit that the back story to getting there was the boundary stretch. The MFA was the wonderful consequence. An accident severely pinched multiple nerves in my neck. After 3 years of doctors and physical rehabilitation, I still had very limited mobility and was in pain. I was not healing from this accident. I have come to believe that there are no coincidences, so I will say that auspiciously, I met a yogi with incredible intuition who worked in healing modalities very new to me at that time. He said he could help me, but I was so miserable and cynical, my response was ‘yeah, right, sure you can’, being the special being he is, he just smiled and nodded. Since I could barely move, the last thing I was interested in was yoga. I ran into him again at a moment when I was feeling helpless, even more miserable and vulnerable. After a long conversation, I let down my guard and decided to work with him. I worked with him for a year. Yoga not only healed me on a physical level, the energetic aspects of yoga started to free my spirit, and my perspective on many things changed. It was really hard work. This accident was a huge wake up call to the beauty of life, one that was ahead of me filled with possibilities. Off I went to grad school, a huge achievement for me. I still practice yoga, have a devoted meditation practice and study energies of the subtle body, another wonderful consequence.

Where do you feel most inspired in Buffalo?
I moved to Buffalo from Los Angeles about 6 months ago. As I acquaint myself with the city, I have found more than a few places where I feel inspired! One of these places is Kleinhans Music Hall. When weather permits, I like to go there, and sit by the pool of water, watching the reflections and cast tree shadows move on its surface. I love the structure of the building and the patterns of the bricks. I spend a lot of time there drawing.

What project are you working on right now that we should all know about?
I am extremely fortunate to be collaborating with the Lehrer Dance Company. This past November, I did two live drawing performances with Lehrer Dance at the Burchfield Penney Art Center and will be performing with them for their 10th Anniversary Gala (April 1st!) at UB Center For Performing Arts. It is truly wonderful to work with these outstanding dancers, and, a dream come true!

Thank you, Claudia!

The theme for our event on April14th is BEYOND. 

We are tempted by the possibilities of the beyond. Whether it’s deep space, the range of our talents, or a first date, our minds conjure stories that carry us aloft.

This unwavering, deep-seated determination to go far and wide is the fire that which keeps us alive, always marching forward, determined to lift the veils that are hiding unfounded beauty.

What a trait to embody. Without the urge to go beyond perceived limitations or boundaries, we would be a dull, stagnating species indeed. The price to go beyond anything is never free; we’re called to face our fears, and the reward of reaching that next level is the privilege to do it again.

This month’s global exploration of Beyond is presented by Shutterstock. The theme was chosen by our Bengaluru chapter and illustrated by Ranganath Krishnamani.

Book List: Taboo

“She started thinking about all the euphemisms for death, all the anxious taboos that had always fascinated her. It was too bad you could never have an intelligent discussion on the subject. People were either too young or too old, or else they didn’t have time.”

Tove Jansson, The Summer Book

“Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love.”

John Steinbeck

I have always found it interesting to consider not just the topics we choose to avoid speaking about, but why it came to be that way. The word Taboo in itself draws odd glances when you say it out loud. I know this from personal experience since I wrote this in a coffee shop. The idea that merely speaking about something, that uttering into existence the concept is so heinous that it must be avoided, gives such a power to language and communication. Oddly, the very act of trying to suppress an idea inherently gives it weight. The irony there is inescapable and rather pleasing. This month we’re discussing the topic of Taboo and approaching it from many angles. Why does something get to be perceived that way? What can correct those views? Can reclaiming a Taboo be an act of resistance? We’ll find out in the books below.

7 Books Directly, Contextually, or Tangentially about Taboo:

  1. Giovanni’s Room — James Baldwin | In America we have this weird way of acting like the smallest sliver of progress equates to a complete negation of the way things were before. I am twenty-nine years old and grew up through the early two-thousands in a sea of toxic-masculinity and homophobia. Both of these issues still exist and run rampant. When we hate things blindly it is often because we are unfamiliar with them, or only know of them through caricature representations. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin presents a narrative with complex representations of homosexuality and bi-sexuality. These were presented to a reading public in 1956 with empathy and artistry, and the novel is credited with creating broader public discourse on the topics. Suppression can cause misunderstanding, but shining the light on a taboo can begin the discussion of why we’ve labeled it that way.
  2. Hate: A Romance: A Novel — Tristan Garcia | “Despite its cultured Gallic sensibilities, “Hate,” as translated by Marion Duvert and Lorin Stein, is surprisingly taut and readable. Garcia, a trained philosopher, has managed to write — in fewer than 300 pages, no less — the kind of social novel his American counterparts too often avoid in favor of solipsistic musings.

    He certainly doesn’t write what he knows: born in 1981, Garcia was a toddler when the Marais became the epicenter of gay life in Paris. But through his narrator, the journalist Elizabeth Lavallois, he credibly describes (at least to this outsider) that world as AIDS encroaches.” – New York Times Book Review

    Demonizing groups of individuals is one of the most tried and true methods to oppress them and keep them outside what is accepted as mainstream. When the AIDS epidemic shook the world it was given connotations, as if it were reserved for the LBGTQ community. Because of this, people overlooked HIV and AIDS as a human problem—as if it were not theirs—and made it a taboo. Garcia’s novel explores Paris in 1981 and takes us into a world that people of the time preferred to not speak about.

  3. Harry Potter Series — J.K. Rowling | There are many reasons to include the Harry Potter series on this list. Aside from being banned because of offense taken by the Catholic Church for a representation of sorcery that they find heretic, we can also find multiple examples of Taboo in the text. There are scary parallels between mud-bloods, mixed magical and non-magical blood, Muggles, non-magical people who are viewed by certain entities in the series as “less than” and our own society. The most obvious example of taboo, which relates back to our observation on the power of words—and more specifically, names—comes in the suppression of the use of Voldemort’s name. As observed in the book, doing so gives him power. By being unable to face the monster, it retains its mythical status. Harry Potter is chock full of taboo and more often than not shows, the more we understand each other, the better off we are. 
  4. American Blasphemies — Megan Kemple | This is an upcoming chapbook from poet Megan Kemple. The book approaches topics of military family life, domestic and sexual violence, and the stains on the backside of the American flag. In the authors own words: 

    It’s taboo for me for a couple of reasons. First of all, in a military community, being anything less than violently republican is tantamount to treason. The cover alone, before they read a single word, will be enough for most people I’ve grown up with to never speak to me again. There’s a code of silence, you don’t talk about the violence at home or abroad. Keeping family secrets is treated like a matter of national security. So talking about anything at all to do with the military in a real way is automatically taboo. Sexual violence is also something you’re not supposed to talk about. It makes people uncomfortable, it changes the way they see you, and if you talk about it too much people decide you’re just looking for attention. It puts people off to talk about rape and consensual sex in the same book, because it ruins the idea of “the good victim”, which is something that doesn’t exist. So if I had to boil it down, it’s taboo because I’m basically the Edward Snowden of military family life and my mistakes in life never made me apologetic.”

  5. A Thousand Splendid Suns — Khaled Hosseini “ | Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them—in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul—they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation.” – As Americans we avoided talking too much about the effects our countries actions have worldwide. It is difficult to fathom the impact of a drone strike, of destabilization, of rubble in the street, and how that can possibly fit into the outline that is a human life. We are removed from it. We are detached. Representations of it in a true sense, as in not American Sniper where faceless “bad guys” fall to a patriotic propaganda character, barely exist. If we are shown the horror, it’s from the perspective of the person on our side. A Thousand Splendid Suns breaks the silence barrier. If empathy comes from understanding, than understanding starts with talking about it.
  6. Frankenstein — Mary Shelley | There is a mystique among writers when it comes to Frankenstein and the book’s creation during a stormy summer in England. A workshop of writers sat down, and due to the weather, decide to write some horror stories. The result is the classic tale of man becoming God, what that entails, and the questions of science—how far our ability should outpace our understanding. The taboo here is apparent in many places. From Dr. Frankenstein’s obsession and the cadaver parts, to the assumption that man and God could possibly inhabit the same role, Shelley calls into question many topics that—especially at the time—were socially and religiously unacceptable.
  7. Lord of the Flies — William Golding | In high school a teacher gave an assignment to write a parody of Lord of the Flies. For whatever reason I completely misunderstood that parody’s were supposed to be funny and instead wrote an allusion changing out the kids for soldiers and the concept in the book that intrigued me so much in the first place, the invisible ring around each of the boys, for the perimeter the soldiers must maintain. Early in the book, soon after they find themselves stranded on the island with no adults, an older child is throwing rocks in the direction of a younger one. It is observed that the only reason he is not directly striking the younger child is because he is afraid that someone will yell at him, suggesting that at our base, the only things really protecting us from each other is the fear of reprisal. We go to great lengths in our contemporary lives to convince ourselves that we are far removed from our most base instincts. To have to confront this may not be the case is cause for uncomfortable conversation at best, at worst it causes us to begin exploring a reality that exists right below our surface. One we’d prefer not to talk about.

    Author: Benjamin Brindise

    Benjamin Brindise is a poet, Teaching Artist at the Just Buffalo Writing Center, and curator of the CreativeMornings/Buffalo book list. He is a Buffalo-based writer, facilitating youth poetry workshops across the city, and in his spare time spits late 90’s and early 00’s hip hop lyrics with his band, Surviving Friday.

Welcome to our monthly interview series, #buffaloiscreative, introducing stellar members of our CMbuf community. Make sure to update your profile for an opportunity to be featured on our blog, newsletter and social media accounts!

Meet Yan Shmatnik, a creative strategist and consultant at You & Yan. Check out his profile here.

What is your special creative force?
In this moment, for today, I would have to say it is God balanced with the human spirit.

In the spirit of March 2017’s theme, #CMTaboo, what is something that is taboo or generally not talked about in your field about which you would like to create a more open conversation?

God, the spiritual relationship a person may or may not have with Him / Her.

Where do you feel most inspired in Buffalo?

Most is a difficult expression, as I love so many places. The Outer Harbor, Black Rock, Buffalo History Museum, Albright-Knox, Burchfield Penny, Elmwood, Delaware, Hertel, Village of Williamsville… It’s most important your perspective at the time, not the place you are in - if that makes sense.

What project are you working on right now that we should all know about?

I’ve been working on a highly personal project called “You & Yan”. I’m still unsure how to express it to the public. I can tell you it centers, is focused, around the principal of love. Love for people, as people. A gift that we have received. The ability & capacity to express that type of feeling, it’s a gift. It doesn’t make sense, but does it have to? Stay tuned for updates.

Thanks, Yan!

Book List: Moments

“some moments are nice, some are
nicer, some are even worth
Charles Bukowski, War All the Time

A Christmas morning, the first time you went off on an adventure with your friends on your own, the moment you saw the person you truly loved. Depending on how you look at the structure of time, our lives are made up of a series of moments. These small stories, snapshots we keep in shoeboxes underneath the bed in our mind, come together to create the framework of a life. Whether or not you support a whole being more than the sum of its parts, the parts are still pretty important. Life is such a big thing, the works below center around a few of the really important snapshots that make up the collage of humanity.

7 Books Directly, Contextually, or Tangentially about Moments:

  1. Bid Time Return, by Richard Matheson | Richard Matheson is an interesting writer. He wrote some of the iconic stories in American genre fiction that have stuck with us for more than fifty years. Remember Will Smith in I Am Legend? Yeah, that was the third film iteration of the book Matheson wrote in 1954. He wrote some of the best episodes of The Twilight Zone and the aforementioned book (which I promise I’ll mention) Bid Time Return was also made into a movie starring Christopher Reeves. The plot, which heavily revolves around a time-traveling man on his last legs trying to find love before he bites the big one, may sound heavily romantic—and it is—but in the true way. A realistically painful one. One that reminds us to appreciate our moments while we have them.
  2. A Night of Serious Drinking, by Rene Daumal | An unnamed narrator spends a night getting drunk with a group of friends. Sounds like a moment you’ve had a time or two? I certainly hope so. The characters are called the Anthographers, Fabricators of useless objects, Scienters, Nibblists, Clarificators, and other absurd titles. Not so familiar now? That’s okay. The world of this book is the regular world on its head, forcing the beauty to resonate in the moments you realize how familiar it still feels. Moments are made of the people we surround ourselves with. Here’s to a night of serious drinking.
  3. À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, by Marcel Proust | “I pulled my copy of Recherche du Temps Perdu off the shelf just last week. There – I’ve said it. I was looking for the passage right at the beginning where he conjures up that feeling of waking in the middle of the night and not knowing where you are, or indeed at first who you are. It’s a feeling which – as the narrator confesses around nine pages into his exploration of this fleeting sensation – never lasts more than a few seconds, but which he finds so unsettling it calls into question the stability of the entire world. As Scott Moncrieff’s translation has it: Perhaps the immobility of the things that surround us is forced upon them by our conviction that they are themselves, and not anything else, by the immobility of our conception of them. For it always happened that when I awoke like this, and my mind struggled in an unsuccessful attempt to discover where I was, everything revolved around me through the darkness: things, places, years.” ― Richard Lee, The Guardian
  4. Bag of Bones, by Stephen King | I never intended to read Bag of Bones. It sat on grocery store book racks for years and for some reason it always struck me as “one-of-those-romance-books”. Forgive me my assumptions. When someone gave it to me saying, “You like those King books, don’t you?” I recognized the irony and said, “Eh, why not”. What I found was not only a mystery, but a pretty complex plot ornamented with elements of the American Gothic. The protagonist is trying to find out what really happened to his wife, and in the process we get to flip through his mental photo albums, experiencing the most important moments of his life. Appreciate ‘em when you got ‘em. Recurring theme.
  5. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury | Sometimes the moments are bigger. Sometimes they’re contextual, encompassing not a moment we carry with us in our pocket like a lucky quarter, but entire countries themselves. When we look back on pivotal events we call them history. These are moments when the decisions made stick, and they matter for a long time. In the world of Fahrenheit 451 we find a world just past their moment, a nightmare scape of mistakes and bad choices that have led down a road that ends in fire. What we find there is a precautionary tale of the appreciation of knowledge, and a longing for the moments when such things mattered.
  6. My Struggle, by Karl Ove Knausgård | “My Struggle is a six-book autobiographical series by Karl Ove Knausgård outlining the “banalities and humiliations of his life”, his private pleasures, and his dark thoughts; the first of the series was published in 2009. It has sold nearly 500,000 copies in Norway, or one copy for every nine Norwegian adults, and is published in 22 languages. The series is 3,600 pages long, and was finished when Knausgård was in his forties. The English translation of the fifth book in the series arrived in the United States in April 2016.” – From big and contextual we move to very specific. Instead of the sweeping world building of Bradbury we see through the microscope into a single person’s journey. Odd that the microscope would provide 3,600 pages where the world building yields less than 300. But that’s the thing with stories. They come as they come.
  7. Tailgating at the Gates of Hell, by  Justin Karcher | The first book of poetry on the list. Karcher’s Tailgating at the Gates of Hell takes us on a journey through the rust belt, circling the post-steel industrial drain, chain-smoking on the way down. The poems give us fever visions of varying scope, taking us down trails of desperation, but also of hope. Karcher’s book rounds the list out by putting many of the elements discussed above side by side and letting us figure out where we fall on how to think about it.

Author: Benjamin Brindise

Benjamin Brindise is a poet, Teaching Artist at the Just Buffalo Writing Center, and curator of the CreativeMornings/Buffalo book list. He is a Buffalo-based writer, facilitating youth poetry workshops across the city, and in his spare time spits late 90’s and early 00’s hip hop lyrics with his band, Surviving Friday.


Janna Willoughby-Lohr, #buffaloiscreative, January 2017

Welcome to our monthly interview series, #buffaloiscreative, introducing stellar members of our CMbuf community. Make sure to update your profile for an opportunity to be featured on our blog, newsletter and social media accounts!

Meet Janna Willoughby-Lohr, owner of Papercraft Miracles. Check out her profile. 

What is your special creative force?
My special creative force has got to be the excitement I have for sharing my experience with others.  Whether I’m performing on stage or peddling my wares at a craft show, people seem to be drawn to my energy.  

What makes Buffalo creative to you?
Buffalo is creative to me because we have had to, as a city, figure out how to make more out of less. Some of my very favorite places in the city have been underground art spaces and venues, put together by broke artists giving everything they had to make something where there was nothing.

What project are you working on right now that we should all know about?
Right now I’m doing layout for a children’s book, making a custom sketchbook, working on some promo for The Buffalo Infringement Festival,  teaching basic bookbinding to a group of homeschooled kids and writing a ton of new songs with my band, BloodThirsty Vegans. I also have some fun workshops coming up at WNYBAC, including one to make a Valentine’s Day pop-up book on Thursday Feb 9th from 530-730pm. 

Where in Buffalo do you go to be most inspired?
I go to lots of networking events and events for business owners and those are really inspiring for me. It’s a tie between Creative Mornings and National Organization of Women Business Owners  (NAWBO) events as to which inspires me more. And most nights at Nietzsche’s leave me feeling pretty productive…but I think that’s just because I get to see a lot of my favorite people all at once.  

Thank you, Janna!

Photo by Melissa Mune

Book List: Mystery

In the beginning the world was dark and everything was a mystery. As humans, we find questions and answer them in an attempt to understand the world around us. It is no wonder that mysteries still intrigue us, still draw us in around the campfire. At their essence they are the way in which we discover the world. Whether that mystery come from a crime, a conspiracy, the atmosphere of a particular time, or existence itself, mysteries help us makes sense of the things that are difficult or impossible to understand or explain. Below are ten works, in no particular order, that fall under the category of mystery and are part of the human myth pool of questions and answers, questions and answers….


The Top Ten:

  1. Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier | ‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again’. Easily one of the most haunting lines in fiction put out in the last hundred years. Here, the mystery lies in perception. How do the masks we present to the world differ from the actual faces underneath them? How far will some people go to keep a narrative alive? You’ll also find murder, obsession, and as the author herself said: A sinister tale.
  2. The Twilight Zone: Complete Stories, by Rod Serling | For those of us who watched the Sci-Fi channel as kids, one of the best parts of it were the black and white reruns of the original Twilight Zone series. These stories and their expected twists debuted in an era of corporate censorship, civil unrest, and stories like, The Monsters are out on Maple Street, and The Shelter, called into question the mystery of what it means to be a human being. Never knowing what’s really going on until almost the final moments (and sometimes not even then) the Twilight Zone is a very American experience, and touchstone in our cultural mythology.
  3. The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins | To add the your collection of Snapple Cap Facts, enter The Moonstone as the first full length detective novel written in the english language. It set the ground rules for detective fiction including the locked-room mystery and red herrings. Aside from simply heralding in a new genre, The Moonstone also reflected Collins’ enlightened social attitudes in his treatment of the servants in the novel.
  4. Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane | Three boys, three lives, one day. When Sean Devine and Jimmy Marcus see their friend Dave Boyle abducted by two men pretending to be police officers, all of their lives will be sent on different courses. Nineteen years later Jimmy’s daughter has been murdered, Dave is a suspect, and Sean is now a police officer on the case. The mystery is what can become of a life? What creates us, and how much does where we come from and what happened stay with us?
  5. Watchmen, by Alan Moore | Who killed The Comedian? Who watches the Watchmen? The only graphic novel to be listed on TIME’s Top 100 Novels list, Watchmen is a dense and beautifully complex story involving the deconstruction of the superhero, an atmosphere of government distrust among Cold War fears, all wrapped up in a whodunnit as the heroes try to find out who is hunting them down.
  6. And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie | Some people become engrained in their genre, become a staple that can’t be overlooked. Agatha Christie is mystery. And Then There Were None is one of those books that immediately come to mind when you think of the genre. Eight people arrive on an island and one by one, begin to be killed off. This classic has been retold and retread a million times, but the original is still worth the context.
  7. 11/22/63, by Stephen King | Mystery isn’t always about a crime being committed, or a murder being solved. Sometimes mystery is more about the wonder of the natural world we exist in. 11/22/63 is a story about time and the way it affects how we live. Time falls into that beautiful category of ‘things we only kind of understand a little’ and therefore it has huge implications still in the quest of question/answer, question/answer. Oh, and there’s the whole JFK getting assassinated conspiracy stuff. I guess that’s pretty mysterious, too.
  8. Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane | “She smiled darkly and shook her head. ‘I’m not crazy. I’m not. Of course what else would a crazy person claim? That’s the Kafkaesque genius of it all. If you’re not crazy but people have told the world you are, then all your protests to the contrary just underscore their point. Do you see what I’m saying?” Two detectives go to an island to solve a mystery about a missing patient. The real mystery takes place within the individual. How much are we who we are, and how much does the world decide for us?
  9. The Long Goodbye, by Raymond Chandler | Just as no list of mysteries can be complete without mentioning a work from Agatha Christie, no list can skip Raymond Chandler whose name is synonymous with hard-boiled detective fiction. While some will say that The Big Sleep or Farewell, My Lovely, Chandler himself proclaimed The Long Goodbye as “my best book”. The novel is notable for using hard-boiled detective fiction as a vehicle for social criticism and for including autobiographical elements from Chandler’s life.
  10. The Complete Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle | Just as no list of mysteries can be complete without mentioning a work from Raymond Chandler or Agatha Christie, no list of mysteries can pass on mentioning the most well-known gumshoe, Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street. In the complete edition, all four full-length novels and fifty-six short stories about the colorful adventures of Sherlock Holmes can be found.

Author: Benjamin Brindise

Benjamin Brindise is a poet, Teaching Artist at the Just Buffalo Writing Center, and curator of the CreativeMornings/Buffalo book list. He is a Buffalo-based writer, facilitating youth poetry workshops across the city, and in his spare time spits late 90’s and early 00’s hip hop lyrics with his band, Surviving Friday.


January’s theme is Mystery, chosen by the Houston chapter and illustrated by Joseph Alessio. This month in 160+ cities around the world, we’ll learn how creatives from various backgrounds dance with mystery and infuse it into their lives.