BUFFALO, N.Y. — For two years, the University at Buffalo
Signature Series has celebrated UB’s legacy of innovation and
distinction in arts and letters with presentations by distinguished
figures in theater, music and visual art.
The focal point of the series is “The Conversation in the
Arts,” this year featuring theater director, visual artist
and designer Douglas Fitch and Janne Sirén, the Peggy Pierce
Elfvin Director of Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
The conversation will take place at 2 p.m. April 10 in the Black
Box Theatre, Center for the Arts, UB North Campus. It will be free
and open to the public. Tickets are not required.
Fitch is UB’s inaugural College of Arts and Sciences WBFO
Visiting Professor and will be in residence at the university
during the 2014 fall semester. He has led award-winning and
innovative theatrical projects for major arts institutions across
North America and Europe, among them Canada’s National Arts
Center and the Royal Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra.
In fact, Fitch is nothing if not a collaborator with like minds.
He designs whimsical and humorous spaces (tree houses, home spaces,
offices); spectacular theatrical sets, costumes and lighting; and
drawings, paintings and art installations.
In 2007, he co-founded Giants are Small, a theater and
entertainment company whose acclaimed and wildly unusual
productions have earned it a reputation as one of the most
celebrated production companies in New York City.
The programs feature opera, puppetry, video projection, circus,
iconic theater, family entertainment and ballet; recent productions
include new, bright, off-the-wall interpretations of work by
Stravinsky and Prokofieff; Elliott Carter, Virgil Thompson,
Puccini, Engelbert Humperdinck and Kurt Weill; Czech composer,
musical theorist and folklorist Leoš
Janáček; and contemporary classical composer
The company also is collaborating with the Metropolitan Museum
of Art, the Juilliard School and with Alan Gilbert, music director
of the New York Philharmonic, on the humorous opera “Gloria:
A Pig Tale,” which the groups calls “a rollicking tale
of social expectations and aspirations.” The opera, for which
Fitch serves as director/designer, will be performed May 29 through
June 1 at the museum.
Fitch collaborates as well with artist Mimi Oka on Orphicorp,
whose surrealist productions are known for employing edible media
in experimental feasts, the sets sometimes serving as metaphors for
what is on the plate. Their productions are impossible to describe
in a few words, but are alarming, funny and, it appears,
In April 2013, Sirén, a dynamic, passionate, multilingual
art historian who then was directing the Helsinki Art Museum, began
his tenure as 11th director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Later
that year he was named the Peggy Pierce Elfvin Director, thanks to
an $11 million bequest from the estate of Elfvin, an arts patron
and longtime gallery board member.
Siren calls the Albright-Knox Buffalo’s “global
asset” — the only one in the state outside New York
City, and told the Buffalo News that from the moment he set foot in
Buffalo, “it was sort of love at first sight.” He
speaks of the city’s “very positive aura” and
says he believes that art should be a primary player on the civic
stage, the gallery “a place without walls, a very porous
place,” and the whole city “a comprehensive cultural
The month of April is filled with additional Signature Series
- April 9, 4 p.m., Kaveeshwar Gallery, fifth floor Capen Hall, UB
North Campus, the opening of the exhibition “Visual
Signatures: Constructed Drawings,” featuring the work
of Douglas Fitch.
- April 22, 2 p.m., Lockwood Library Quick Connect Corridor,
“Praxis — Lockwood Interfacing.” A
ribbon-cutting will unveil a dynamic new installation by UB visual
studies students designed to engage viewers aesthetically and
intellectually however many times they traverse this corridor.
RSVPs for these events are requested but not required at: SignatureSeries@buffalo.edu
- Student performances and creative activity across the arts,
including the publication of NAME, the undergraduate
literary magazine; the premiere of a production of “Les
Misérables” by students in the Department of Theatre
and Dance; several concerts and recitals by students in the
Department of Music; and exhibitions of work from students in the
departments of Media Study and Visual Studies.
For more information on the Signature Series and a catalog of all
arts events at UB during the month of April, visit: www.buffalo.edu/president/sig-series.html