The Humanities Institute will begin its third annual Gray Matter
Series on May 2 with “The Humanities on Main Street,” a
retrospective on UB’s energetic campus life in the 1970s.
This event will take place at 6:30 p.m. in UB’s Anderson
Galley, One Martha Jackson Place, off Englewood Avenue between
Kenmore Avenue and Main Street, Buffalo.
It is free and open to the public.
The Gray Matter events are intended to familiarize the Buffalo
community with humanities’ scholarship, research and
The evening will feature discussions, demonstrations and
presentations that illustrate the political action and avant-garde
art, music, writing and intellectual innovation that marked UB in
the 1970s and had a long-lasting impact on the campus and the city
In addition to illuminating UB’s exceptional academic star
power at the time, presentations will focus on the synergy between
the South Campus and Buffalo cultural
institutions—established ones like the Buffalo Philharmonic
Orchestra and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery—as well as
independent, forward-looking newcomers like Artpark, Hallwalls and
the CEPA Gallery.
Scheduled presentations and discussions that evening will
- 6:30 p.m.: A panel discussion featuring three
speakers familiar with UB during that era—Mark Shechner,
emeritus professor of English, who will speak to the local poetry
scene that produced—among other things—the
“little magazines” of the ‘70s and a healthy
serving of experimental literature; Mike Frisch, professor and
senior research scholar in American studies, who will discuss the
campus politics of the time; and Renee Levine, managing director of
the Center of the Creative and Performing Arts at UB from 1965-78,
and author of “This Life of Sounds: Evenings for New Music in
Buffalo,” who will address the UB Department of Music and its
- 8:15 p.m.: Break-out sessions (visitors are
invited to participate)—with Levine and Michael
Basinski, curator of the UB Poetry and Rare Books Collection, who
will present and discuss a sample of the “little
magazines” that Buffalo writers produced in the 1970s, many
of which are held in the Poetry Collection’s 9,000-title
Little Magazine Collection, which comprises publications dating
from the mid-19th century.
Also available will be audio and visual selections representing
- An exhibition of slide images of the UB campus during
the 1970s, taken from personal and university collections
- Audio selections featuring the pioneering work of
composer Terry Riley, a former creative associate of the UB Center
for Creative and Performing Arts, and the late UB professor and
distinguished composer Morton Feldman. Both were pioneers of
minimalist music whose work continues to have an important impact
on that field.
- Recordings of songs specific to UB’s spring 1970
campus protests, including “Hayes Hall Blues” by
Vizzy Goth and the Vicious Vandals. The song, by the late UB
ethnomusicologist Charlie Keil (Vandal) and UB historian Mike
Frisch (Vizzy), are among those that documented the infamous
“UB riots” that rocked the campus early that year. The
uproar, which was sparked by student activism related to the
Vietnam War, as well as the debate over open admissions and U.S.
Department of Defense research at UB, was marked by strikes,
violence, tear gas, a pig roasting, injuries among students and
police, and the arrest of 45 protesting UB faculty members.