On April 1st Rochester Art Collectors will officially launch. No fooling! February and March will be a period of testing, organizational development, preparation and gathrering momentum for the launch. Rochester Art Collectors is a privately funded, independent, non-commercial group organized to promote collecting the art created by artists from the metro Rochester region.
The idea for Rochester Art Collectors was first discussed openly in the fall of 2017 around a table in Java's Cafe in downtown Rochester. Rome Celli, invited Bleu Cease, Derek Darling, Alex Gruttadaro and Shirley Dawson to talk about the idea of forming a group to promote local art collecting in Rochester. For nearly 90 minutes the assembled art aficionados bounced ideas around. From that conversation the nascent organization began to take on a misty shape.
Throughout the balance of the fall and into the new year Rome met with many dozens of collectors, gallerists, artists, arts administrators, art educators, reporters, business people, and other interested parties. He developed a simple webiste (RochesrterArtCollectors.org) so that he could easily share the concept and the underlying philosophy with others. As new ideas came in he updated and revised the site to reflect an evolvoing notion of what could/should be accomplished. Eventually, the purpose of Rochester Art Collectors was expressed and basic goals established.
"Owning original local art is a fun way to simulate your imagination and intellect; to bring inspriation and beauty into your life and support the sort of community we all want to live in."
Rochester Art Collectors wil host a series of fun socials for members and non-members. Larger public presentations at local venues will feature notable speakers on topics related to collecting. News and information about the local arts scene as it relates to collectors and collecting will be offerred on the website along with information and links to local venues to buy art as well as sources for researching local artists.
Membership is free. Join before June 30, 2018 to become a "Founding Member." Members will be invited to more intmate gatherings where they can share work from their collection, hear speakers on more technical topics and share tips, tricks and trends with other members. Member-only artist studio visits and private tours of local collections will be offered. Members will have a opportunity to offer their opinions about group rograms, policies and other topics.
Creating strong bonds between local artists and collectors will be a central compenent of the group's culture.
Collaboration with other organizations and local businesses will also be a hallmark of the group's programming. So far Rochester Art Collectors' programs are in the works with the Rochester Brainery, Rochester Contemporary, Axom Gallery, Makers Gallery and others. Rome is scheduled to be interviewed on WAYO on February 27th and then again in April on two different programs.
Keep an eye out for Rochester Art Collectors on social media like facebook and instagram. Later this year the group will sponsor "Collector's Eye." A series of local collectors will bring their vision of the arts to the group's social media outlets.
Over the course of the next few weeks the group will announce its short term goals & programs for rest of 2018. In the meantime, be on the lookout for pre-launch events such as the first in a series of public presentations for new collectors at the Rochester Brainery on March 2nd (ten free tickets are on offer) and the first pre-launch social mixer at Brown Hound is planned for March 8th. A member-only event is scheduled for March 22 at Makers Gallery & Studio.
There are some pretty easy ways to stay in touch with what's going on in the local arts scene. Our RESOURCES section gives you more than two dozen handy links that will not only keep you up-to-date but may help you fill in some of the gaps. A number of the sites connected by these links offer a treasure-trove of information in their archives. Every so often we'll highlight one of the resources so you can get to know what's on offer.
Alan Singer came to Rochester decades ago to teach at Rochester Institute of Technology from the New York City area. As a professor in the College of Imaging Arts and Science at RIT he offers students training and guidance on the business side of being an artist. He covers a wide range of essential skills from helping his students to verbally express the meaning contained in their work to building their curricula vitae and so much more.
Alan is a practicing professional artist as well as a teacher. His visual ideas are mostly expressed in printmaking, painting and digital art. Alan’s art has been featured in museums such as the Everson in Syracuse, and the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. His work has also been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, primarily in the New York area. He and his wife, Anna Sears, make their home in Brighton.
In 2010 after watching a long and steady decline in the coverage of the local arts scene Alan decided to offer a fresh perspective by writing his own blog. And so, The Visual Artworker: A Dialog About Contemporary Art In Western New York, was born.
When you visit Alan's blog you'll find nearly 250 posts(!) dating back to 2010. A good chunk of the content covers local artists and the local arts scene. It has become a priceless archive for collectors and anyone else interested in learning about Rochester's vibrant arts community. As a bonus you'll be able to read his take on all manner of national and international artists, art exhibitions as well as many books on topics related to the arts. The range of information he covers is truly remarkable.
To be clear, Alan is not only the author of a terrific arts blog he is also an accomplished graphic designer and a published author. He and his brother, Paul, published a book about their father's work in 2017 titled, Arthur Singer: The Wildlife Art Of An American Master. It wasn't his first book and I doubt it will be his last. Busy guy, right? It boggles the mind!
Rochester is exceptionally lucky to have an accomplished guy like Alan in our midst covering local artists. Do yourself a huge favor and dig into The Visual Artworker: A Dialog About Contemporary Art In Western New York. You'll learn a ton of great information!
Rochester Art Through The Ages: The Greatest Survey of Influential Rochester Artists Ever Exhibited (Part I)
"A Rochester Retrospective: Painting & Sculpture: 1880-1950"
I came across this catalog while visiting with my friend, Warren Phillips, recently. Warren is a deeply knowledgeable person on topics related to local art. He's a talker and when he talks I listen and I learn. When he handed the catalog to me he told me he had seen the exhibition and considered it the single most important factor in becoming a collector. Naturally, I was piqued. "1980. I don't recall this show. Where the hell was I?" I asked myself out loud. I was in college at the time and missed the show. To be honest, I'm not sure the 19 year old me would have appreciated the show or even visited. It wasn't until after college that I developed a greater appreciation for the arts. As soon as I picked up the dogeared third or fourth generation photocopy of the catalog I knew I had to take it home for a close reading. Once I had read it I knew I had to share it with you.
It was the greatest survey of influential Rochester artists ever presented to the public or so they intended. None have dared attempt a similar effort since. The exhibit would probably never have been imagined were it not for a local collector, Bruce W. Chambers. Approximately one quarter of the works on exhibit came from private collections. The remarkable size & scope of the exhibition would not have been possible without including work on loan from private individuals thereby demonstrating the essential role local art collectors play in preserving Rochester's story.
Sometime in 1976 Chambers and a small band of collectors (referred to as "lenders" in the catalog) began plotting and planning with staff at the Memorial Art Gallery (MAG) to mount a massive retrospective featuring a survey of "important" Rochester artists from the period 1880 through 1950. It took them nearly four years to pull it all together. The exhibition opened on August 1, 1980 and ran for approximately seven weeks until September 21st.
"My aims were: to give exposure to the major artistic accomplishments of Rochester artists; to stimulate interest in Rochester's art history; and to provide a sense of the historical and cultural connections which form the context of the development of art in Rochester."
Brett Waller was Director of the MAG at the time of the exhibition. He described himself as "a newcomer" in his Foreword to the catalog and conceded "...no survey can hope to be complete or definitive..." He goes on later in the paragraph, "...Rochester long has been a city where art and artists have flourished." Flourished indeed.
Volunteers Gertrude Herdle Moore and Isabel C. Herdle had the monumental task of organizing the exhibition and co-writing the catalog's Introduction (which was a treat to read for this local art collector). They were identified as "Director Emeritus" and "Curator Emeritus" respectively having left the gallery before the exhibition was organized. There are sections, like the one in Waller's Foreword describing the Herdle family's many decades of contributions to the MAG, that remind one of passages from a Henry James' novel. This was clearly a effort that drew deeply from Rochester's arts and cultural society from that period.
Of the thirty-eight artists and more than 124 works that were exhibited in the show approximately twenty-five pieces were created by fewer than ten women.
The exhibition included (in alphabetical order)::
Below each artist's name in the catalog is a descriptive paragraph that comprises a sort of distilled curriculum vitae for each artist justifying their inclusion. As you would expect, each entry is also accompanied by a listing of works by that artist and the source of the work. Most of the work is credited to the MAG's own collection with a fair number of pieces on loan from what was then known as the "Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum." The Rochester Historical Society also contributed a number of pieces.
If I have any luck, Part II of this series will include information about the local collectors who helped organize the show as well as those who contributed work to the exhibition. I'm also hoping for some first hand accounts. I believe there are a number of people I can contact who were either close at hand to the exhibition (maybe they worked on it?) or who visited the exhibition. I know of one source who credits this exhibition with becoming an avid collector: my friend, Warren.
I hope you have as much fun pouring over the catalog it as I did!
*This artist was alive at the time of the show. I assume all have died over the intervening 38 years. I hope to identify the date of their passing in a future post.
Every so often we put the spotlight on a local collector. We'll give you a little background about the collector and then talk about one or more topics that may be of interest to other collectors.
I spent nearly an hour on the phone with Katie Verrant last night and enjoyed every second of our conversation. I had so much fun talking to her I stopped taking notes after awhile. She's pretty much the ideal Rochester Art Collector member.
Katie Verrant was born on the west coast in California. She moved to Pennsylvania and went to a "tiny" high school near where her family settled outside of Philly.
Katie learned to appreciate art and the outdoors at an early age. She laughed when she told me her mom "can't pass a museum or gallery without pulling over and going inside to learn something." Although her parents weren't what you'd call collectors per se they did own some original art so Katie had role models for seeing and appreciating art as well as owning art. In addition to art she told me, "I have always loved wildlife and the outdoors," You'll learn how she combines her interests in art, wildlife and the outdoors a little later in this post.
In terms of collecting local art destiny was to play an important role in Katie's life. When it came time for college she sort of stumbled on Rochester Institute of Technology. It had the program offerings she wanted. It was also far enough from home to feel independent and close enough to go back-and-forth without too much trouble. She found her "nerdy" peeps immediately when she moved onto the RIT campus and fell in love with Rochester and the region after extensive touring.
She met and worked with Erich Lehman while she was at RIT. Erich works full time as Premedia Facilities Coordinator for RIT’s School of Print Media. In addition, he was/is the co-curator and lead organizer of Rochester's internationally renowned mural art program, WALL\THERAPY and he was the founder of a popular commercial art gallery, 1975 Gallery. Eventually, Erich asked Katie to design the highly coveted 2013 WALL\THERAPY book commemorating the work and the people who made the program happen that year.
Erich became the connecting tie between Katie and the local arts scene. Her deep interest in the arts combined with Erich's connections opened doors for her all over town. He eventually became very important in Katie's personal life. He opened her up to the possibilities of serious collecting by sharing his extensive collection(s) of local, national and international artwork. She quickly caught the bug.
Would you like to see more artwork from Katie's collection? CLICK HERE
I asked Katie about her first important art purchase. In March of 2013 1975 Gallery hosted "All Things Wild and Free - New Works by Mr. Prvrt"; a beloved local muralist who's real name is Justin Suarez. Justin and Erich invited Wild Wings, Inc., a local organization that that houses and cares for permanently injured birds of prey, to participate at the opening party and receive a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Justin's work.
Well, Katie fell in love with Justin's work that night as well as the remarkable birds. She ended up spending a good deal time at the opening talking to a person she took for a Wild Wings staff member who was holding a gorgeous injured owl. it was only later after telling Erich she regretted not getting the chance to actually meet Justin that she learned who the "staff member" was: the artist, Justin Suarez.
The next day she called Erich at 1975 Gallery and asked about her favorite painting from the show. It was still available but the price was a serous stretch since she was a student. After mastering her fears she reached deep into her savings to come up with the cash and hasn't looked back. Since then she has purchased nearly 60 pieces of original art .
When Katie moved to Bethesda, Maryland several years ago she had the chance to look back on the work she had collected while she was in Rochester and discovered she had a number of images of women made by female artists. Those works are now displayed as a grouping in her home. There are many other strands to her collection: Rochester artists, muralists, street art and so on. She has added to her collection in recent years. The work made by Rochester based artists remains central to her collection. When you look at the images in her collection you can see a sort of exchange between the works. It looks like improvisational music to me with colors and forms playing off each other.
Katie deeply appreciates the opportunity to meet the artist before she buys a piece of art. She wants to get to know the person and understand their point of view. She also likes to do some research and think about the work before she makes a decision to buy. She seems to have what I would call a "lifetime relationship" with the work in her collection since she doubts she would ever sell anything from her collection.
She loves her new home in Maryland but she says the area doesn't have nearly as rich or friendly an art scene as Rochester. In Rochester, she said, every door was open to her. There is a wonderful community of artists in Rochester. They hang out together, play together, they share their lives with each other. She loved being able to meet and get to know all her favorite artists. Even after several years in Bethesda, she said, it's nearly impossible to find the sorts of places she loved so dearly in Rochester.
Oh, by the way, if you look closely in the photos here and on her site you'll see some artwork piled up against the wall. Classic collector behavior! I do the same thing. Doesn't everyone? She has dozens of pieces yet to be framed. Uh, yep. Me, too. There's always more work to frame and more work to hang...
Header image © Roy Sowers 1999
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