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What spans 2 blocks, 6 floors, and more than 520,000 square feet? When is this vast, repurposed, historically significant building filled with hundreds of artists making art, musicians making music, dancers shaking their booties, and thousands of revelers taking it all in?

It only happens once every three years, and on one night and one night only. It's called Trimania, and you should plan to be part of this epic celebration of art, culture, and music on Saturday, April 14 in the Tri-Main Center, when Buffalo Arts Studio transforms this former manufacturing facility into a menagerie of culture, featuring live bands, DJs, dancers, poets, visual artists, performers of all kinds and installations throughout the building.

Hundreds of musical and dance performers will span the diverse spectrum of Western New York talent. The Americana Room, sponsored, in part, by the Sportsmen’s Americana Music Foundation, will present Shaky Stage, Ten Cent Howl, Steam Donkeys, as well as Miller and the Other Sinners. Main stages on the first and sixth floors will feature a wide variety of WNY’s best original music. Belly dancing, bollywood, and break dancing will take place alongside jazz, hip-hop, and Americana blues.

More than 75 visual artists will be exhibiting throughout the building. Immersive installations by Mizin Shin and Chuck Tingley will be on display in the Buffalo Arts Studio. Exhibitions, installations and micro-galleries will also be located throughout the building. Contemporary Galleries of Buffalo, curated by ArtReach, Benjaman Galleries, Pine Apple Company and Revolution Gallery, are filling more than 3,645 square feet with collaborative visual and performing arts installations by regional artists. Sugar City artists and performers will be presenting a microcosm of their Niagara Street space with DIY musicians and artists inside a 3,900 square foot space, and in another room their Soul Night DJs will be spinning vintage soul, funk, R&B, and disco vinyl for your dancing pleasure.

Finding and keeping track of this many performances, installations and bars (oh, did I mention the liquid libation? Lots at seven different sites, including CBW on my end of the 4th floor) could be a challenge. But never fear, fellow Tri-Main tenant Twisted Rope has developed a mobile app to help you navigate the vast Tri-Main building and  build your own Trimania agenda. You'll actually receive alerts for favorited events!

But in addition to being one of the largest culturally-driven interactive events held in Buffalo, Trimania is also really fun way to get to know the community that calls Tri-Main Center home. Game Space Buffalo, Landies Candies, Bean Media, kc kratt photography, the BREWROOM, Journey’s End, not to mention my company, Buffalo Heritage Press. We are a diverse collection of artist studios, light manufacturing, service organizations, and tech companies that all work together to make Buffalo better. Tri-Main is not just a building and an epicenter of artistic enterprises in Buffalo, it really is a community. And its story goes back more than a century.

The Ford Motor Company opened its four-story factory on Main Street in 1913, right on the Belt Line. Albert Kahn, one of the best known architects of daylight factories, gave the building a terracotta and brick façade, immense windows, and an open floor plan. Model As and Model Ts were built in what would become known as Building 1 for nearly twenty years. Then, in 1931, the building was leased to Bell Aircraft which built the Airacomet P-59, America’s first propeller-less, twin engine jet war plane in great secrecy on the upper floors of the building.

It was also leased to the DNX Corporation, a subsidiary of the Hercules Motor Company, to manufacture diesel engines for the U.S. Navy. The plant ran 24-hours-a-day and produced nearly a million engines for the military and allied armed forces before shutting down operations in 1945. The ediface returned to its automotive roots and became the Trico Building when the Trico Products Company, the world’s largest manufacturer of windshield wipers, bought and significantly enlarged the structure in 1945. It was known as Plant 2 for many years.

Trico was founded by John R. Oishei as the Tri-Continental Company in 1917 to manufacture the new-fangled automobile safety features he had invented following a harrowing traffic accident. Windshield wipers caught on quickly and soon became a standard feature on all vehicles. Tri-Continental became Trico, and the Oishei family became some of Buffalo’s most generous philanthropists. However, when the decision was made to move the manufacturing process to Mexico in the mid-1980s, the immense Trico Building hit the market.

In December, 1988, Rae Brothers, Inc. of Toronto, a company known for its restoration of older industrial structures, purchased the 75-year-old building. It’s first, hopeful incarnation was the Market on Main. When it opened on June 30, 1989, Market on Main included a small farmers market, a flea market and stalls occupied by antique and collectible dealers, an Italian deli, a food market, a florist, a wine shop, a used books stand and stalls for arts and crafts. There was also an entertainment area that featured local talent. Park benches, small carts, street signs and stop lights created a nostalgic feel. Only the first two floors were utilized and the venue was open only on weekends.

Market on Main soon gave way to a bolder vision. Elgin Wolfe and John Rae saw galleries and studios filling the vast, light-filled building, along with small businesses, and even light manufacturing. In 1991, Tri-Main Center became the first large-scale rehabilitation of a vacant industrial complex in the city, turning into something of a business incubator long before there were such things and creating a precedent for preservation in Buffalo.

It is quite telling that the very first "anchor" tenant of the brand new Tri-Main Center was actually Buffalo Arts Studio! BAS founder Joanna Angie helped recruit local artists longing for high ceilings, great light and vast wall space, creating a critical mass of creativity in the building. The cooperative studio space for Buffalo artists still occupies a huge, fascinating space on the 5th floor 26 years later and hosts Trimania as its signature fundraiser.

The ability to create and re-create space in the building by moving interior walls and doors makes it an agile, malleable space able to accommodate a remarkable spectrum of tenants, from Aspire to WNYCOSH, and the Jewett loading dock beckoned to businesses like Mid-City Office and others who ship and receive regularly. The renowned Kittinger Furniture Company eventually took over the entire sixth floor in 1996. That space has now been re-purposed for multiple tenants, including Neglia Ballet. 

My fellow TriMain tenants Game Space Buffalo, Landies Candies, Bean Media, kc kratt photography, the BREWROOM, Journey’s End will all open our doors and fill our suites with exciting, creative, cultural experiences. And Buffy will travel from her place of honor in the Lobby to the 4th floor to meet and greet you. When you find her you will have found Buffalo Heritage Press in Suite 404. Stop in and say hi!

Tickets for Trimania are just $25 pre-sale and all proceeds benefit Buffalo Arts Studio. Although they will go up to $30 at the door, the real reason to purchase tickets in advance is to avoid the line at the door. More than 3,000 revelers are expected to attend! The building is more than large enough to accomodate this many people, but pre-purchased tickets will allow you to walk right in at 8:00pm. If you're feeling generous and want to start the evening early, VIP tickets get you into a special reception at 6:30pm and are just $50 per person or $80 per couple.

Remember, all proceeds from the event benefit Buffalo Arts Studio, Tri-Main Center’s first tenant back in 1991.

Here is just a sample of what you will experience at Trimania 2018:

Immersive installations by Mizin Shin and Chuck Tingley at Buffalo Arts Studios

Exhibitions, installations, and micro-galleries curated by ArtReach, Benjaman Gallery, Revolution Gallery, Pine Apple Company, Sugar City Art Gallery

Live drawing and painting to include: Tricia Butski & Patrick Foran, Rob Lynch & Matt Sagurney, Muhammad Z Zaman

A virtual reality experience at Buffalo Game Space

Jump into a video with Bean Media

A voyage under the sea with Aspire of WNY

A quilt portrait with Jack Edson

Slam poetry with Pure Ink Poetry

Belly dancing, Bollywood, and break dancing, jazz, and hip-hop

An Americana Blues Room curated by Sportsmens Americana Music Foundation

Click here for a constantly updated performance line-up.


Sat Apr 14th
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Marti Gorman

Writer, publisher, founder of Citybration and proud Buffalo ambassador
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