John Toth, John Neumann, Andy Topolski, Don Metz, Michael Basinski, and Tom Topolski c. 1979

John Toth, John Neumann, Andy Topolski, Don Metz, Michael Basinski, and Tom Topolski c. 1979

John Toth remembers Andy Topolski

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Andy and I first met at an East Buffalo Media Association performance at the Polish Community Center in East Buffalo in 1977 and quickly became kindred spirits. We both grew as artists out of a shared interest in Minimalism and nurtured each other as we became Post-Modern artists. We both graduated from SUNY Buffalo and all we talked about was art, philosophy and the New York scene. Hallwalls was our closet link to New York City where we both knew we would eventually live. After the Hallwalls gallery moved to their new site in downtown Buffalo, Andy and I rented what was the old Hallwalls. For Andy our shared space served as studio and for me it was both a living and studio space.

A true bohemian spirit occupied this Ashford Hollow artists’ enclave on Essex Street. Andy taught several art courses at Villa Maria College and I taught adjunct courses at SUNY Buffalo, Buffalo State College, Daemen College and part time at the Nichols School. With part time jobs we worked on art throughout the day and in the wee hours of the night, we roamed from studio to studio talking about art, philosophy, music, media and ideas. We were both New York City bound and our first step was to rent studio space at a loft at Union Square. We frequently drove to New York to set up gallery visits and pave the way for our move to the big city. On our trips to the city we would walk down University Place to the Cedar Tavern, reminiscing the days of the early 1950s artist’s hang out, acting on our desire to be a part of the New York art scene.

Andy was first to make the move to New York City in the 80s and in a couple of years later, I also moved to NYC. We both perused our art careers in different ways and while the art scene became ever more commercial, the reality of the social scene of the Cedar Tavern seemed to be in the distant past. We both found success in different ways.

On many of our conversations before Andy pasted away, we spoke of the regional power of Buffalo and the effect it had on our creative lives. Hallwalls, The Creative Associates, Media Study Buffalo, East Buffalo Media Association, The Artists’ Gallery and CEPA Gallery were effective conduits for creativity and they still are… with longevity beyond the Cedar Tavern. Partnerships in creativity grew without borders, as Andy would say. A creative space always opened in our conversations, even after moments of disagreement. We always adjusted our mood, to allow creative thinking to emerge. This is the Andy I remember, and the image I hold in the present...Andy is forever in my thoughts.

—John Toth, June 2013


John Toth is an intermedia artist who has a 35-year history of art collaborations with composers/musicians, choreographers/dancers, directors/actors, writers/poets and teachers that began in Buffalo, NY where he received a Master's degree in art.

John has gained a national reputation for projecting multiple videos into his large-scale fabric installations that began in 1980 in collaboration with John Cage and Lejaren Hiller’s production of HRPSCHD presented at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. John’s ongoing commitment and support to the Western New York art scene includes shows at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Hallwalls, Artpark, and Castellani Art Museum. Read more about Toth at