Over the course of this year a number of venues that exhibit and sell art opened while others closed. Some venues went through a metamorphosis of one sort or another in 2018. Here are the highlights.
This article was revised and updated on Saturday, December 26, 2018 at 11:16 am EST.
Rochester: Makers Gallery is in transition.
Over the past several years artist and gallerist, Alex Gruttadaro, developed one of the more exciting and successful hybrid commercial art galleries in our area on the third floor of 34 Elton Street in Rochester. In addition to running the gallery he also ran a coffee bar and an event venue out of the same space. Sales in the gallery were strong. His event business was so good he suspended the coffee bar business to make more room in the calendar for events.
His business successes, however, came at a price. According to Alex, the demands of running an active gallery, coffee bar and event space consumed all of his time leaving very little for his own creative and personal pursuits. As a result, at least for the time being, Alex has recently returned the Makers commercial gallery space back into his private art studio.
Alex has not ruled out re-imagining a new sort of gallery informed by his experiences with Makers or even re-launching Makers Gallery. While a new gallery may appear before too long it won't be before Alex has had a chance to immerse himself in his art and his family. Stay tuned!
Rochester: RIT City Art Space is open.
RIT's new City Art Space, at 280 Main Street (in the former Sibley's department store building), opened with a large private celebration on Thursday, December 10th. The new gallery opened to the public on Friday in time to take advantage of the December "First Friday" exposure.
City Art Space is a significant upgrade in exhibition space combined with a dramatic re-branding as compared to prior iterations of RIT's "Gallery R" spaces - first on Park Avenue and then on College Avenue near the Memorial Art Gallery. The new gallery has large windows that look out on Rochester's famous Liberty Pole sculpture, designed by James Johnson, as well as main street giving the space a big city feel.
According to their press release, City Art Space is a premier exhibition venue for RIT students, faculty, alumni and more. It is also a site for experiential learning for students across RIT’s College of Art and Design and beyond. The gallery will serve as a preeminent venue for the College Art and Design, which houses six schools: Art, American Crafts, Design, Film & Animation, Media Sciences, and Photographic Arts & Sciences. RIT faculty, staff and students from all six schools contribute their time and talent to sustain the gallery’s exhibition programming, and students gain valuable experience working in a professional gallery setting.
City Art Space is open to the public during regular hours. Although I didn't see any notices to this effect, if City Art Space follows Gallery R's policies, there will be no admission fee to get into the gallery. As in the past much of the work shown in the gallery will be offered for sale.
Rochester: 1975 Gallery has re-emerged in a new format.
After a three year hiatus 1975 Gallery re-emerged in pop-up form in the fall of 2018 with a sizable Halloween themed group show titled "Dearly Departed". Both the location on South Avenue next to Surface Salon and the theme were carefully chosen to reflect back on the gallery's roots. 2018 marked ten years since gallerist, Erich Lehman, launched 1975 as a pop-up inside Surface on the opposite side of South Avenue from this year's exhibition. 1975 Gallery gave up their bricks-and-mortar commercial retail location on Pitkin Street behind the Harts Local Grocery after five years in 2015.
Lehman says Dearly Departed was successful. Hundreds of patrons packed the gallery on opening night and sales were brisk even though the exhibition lingered only six days and had very limited hours. Sales from the show continued even after the exhibition officially closed. He may post some or all of the unsold works from the show on 1975's website before too long.
In addition to holding down a full time day job at RIT Lehman is also the co-curator and core organizer behind Rochester's internationally renowned public art project Wall\Therapy. Given his time limitations It's not surprising he thinks about 1975 Gallery's future strategically. While another traditional retail location isn't in the picture for 1975 Gallery at the moment other plans for the gallery are apparently in the works. We understand Lehman is working on an even more ambitious 1975 pop-up exhibition in the first half of 2019.
Honeyoe Falls: Fleuron is open.
Fleuron opened their doors at in the center of the Village of Honeoye Falls at 10 North Main Street in June of 2018. This new retail venture has it's home in a charming early twentieth century storefront with big windows. Fleuron is what we think of as a "hybrid" commercial gallery. In this instance the fine art gallery is nestled between a botanical boutique at the front of the shop and a small graphic design work space tucked away behind the gallery, up a small flight of stairs.
You might ask, why the name Fleuron? Well, fleuron is a French word meaning, “horticultural ornament”. It comes from the centuries old typographic and printing traditions that date back to the Renaissance. When you learn more about the owner, Lisa Mauro, and her vision you'll understand why that particular word is a perfect descriptor.
Mauro received her BFA from Parsons School of Design and an MFA from Rochester Institute of Technology. In addition to operating the gallery she has a graphic design business and she teaches graphic design at Nazareth College. That's not all. She is not only an avid maker she is also an avid grower. The front of the shop features her own organically grown, fresh specialty cut flowers available from May–October. So, she has married her advanced education in the arts with her passion for graphic design and gardening.
The gallery will mostly focus on contemporary artists living in the Rochester-Finger Lakes region. Exhibitions will rotate on a more-or-less monthly basis. Some shows will feature one artist while others may have a theme with the sort of call-for-work, jurying and curation that goes along with group exhibitions. In addition to living artists the gallery also offers fine art prints by notable national and international artists from the mid-twentieth century.
Pittsford Village: Sylvan Starlight Creations is open.
Sylvan Starlight Creations, open since the summer of 2018, is an artisan gallery and fine art shop located in the Village of Pittsford at the eastern end of Schoen Place.
The business features the fine artwork and exquisite craftsmanship of more than 60 of the area's top local artists. There is always a lot to see inside the shop: from fine art & paintings to jewelry, metal art, home decor and so much more! They offer a wide range of mediums, styles and prices, There is always something for everyone in this lovely village shop.
One or more local artist/artisan will be highlighted monthly with an exhibition and an opening party to kick off the show. The retail space will be shared with dozens of other local artists and artisans day in and day out so you don't have to wait until you see an artist of interest. Stop in anytime.
Rochester: Rochester Fantasy Art Gallery is open.
The proprietor, Thomas C. Chaffer, saw a "fantasy art" niche and decided to fill it. Chaffer had been doing Art Instruction for over 6 years based out of a space in Fairport before moving to the new location in the City of Rochester at 873 Atlantic Avenue. He opened his doors about a month ago.
His plan is to show artwork that falls between "fine art" and fantasy/science fiction illustration. He is beginning by showing Rochester-based artists and that will certainly continue. However, he also plans to expand the scope of art on exhibit to include works made all over the United States; including work done by widely recognized masters in the fantasy/science fiction genre. Although the exhibition space itself is fairly modest in size there's a congenial outdoor area for warm weather entertaining. Chaffer's studio is located just behind the public space.
Before too long the gallery website (www.rochesterfantasyartgallery.com) should include lots of additional information about the new venue.
Nan Miller Gallery has re-emerged in a new format.
One of Rochester's longest running commercial galleries, Nan Miller Gallery, closed it's only bricks-and-mortar storefront near the end of 2017. At that time gallerist, Nan Miller, indicated she was retiring from the business after decades of service to corporate clients and individual collectors across the globe. We recently learned Nan Miller has decided to re-launch without the burden of a full blown commercial retail location so that she can continue to represent artists and act as an art advisor. Nan has retained her former website and domain name to more easily reconnect with her long established client base.
As of 2018, Miller represents a select stable of her favorite artists who encompass a broad range of styles, mediums and price points. She educates clients about artists’ techniques and how their artwork relates to collecting in today’s market, as well accommodating their specific needs. Nan specializes in artwork not readily accessible to the area, such as images by Modern Masters, renowned metal sculpture, cutting-edge glass, wood and mix-media designs.
Nan has served as a key player in the art industry for 45 years. Her former retail location was the longest running family-owned art gallery in Rochester.
Kristen Campo Fine Art has opened.
When the Nan Miller Gallery closed its bricks-and-mortar retail location late in 2017 Kristen Campo, one of Nan's longtime employees, decided it was time to step up. She had worked under Nan for more than a decade. Kristen knew the business from the inside and she had a good base of experience to draw from as she set out in 2018. In addition to working in a gallery Kristen is an established interior designer with an active client base, Incorporating artwork into her design practice has been a mainstay.
Kristen Campo Fine Art does not have a retail location. Instead Campo has focused on bringing a wide array of established and emerging Contemporary artists to her current design clientele and to the art buying public through art fairs at various locations around the country.
Campo realized a visionary goal in 2018 by organizing and presenting what she referred to as the first Contemporary Art Fair of Rochester in November at the Strathallan on East Avenue. By her count near 1,000 people filed through this the Fair over a three day period. She is currently planning a follow-up for 2019.
Canandaigua: Jeanne Beck Art Gallery & Studio is in transition.
Jeanne Beck opened her gallery and studio in June of 2017 with a vision: to combine a her own art studio with a pubic gallery & exhibition space in the City of Canandaigua. She also wanted very much to help to make non-objective, non-representational and abstract artwork more accessible to the public and to collectors. It seemed to her that representational art is more widely accepted and abstract art is less well accepted in our region.
Her second floor unit, located on Main Street between Phoenix and Beeman Streets, was notable not only because of it's beautiful exposed brick walls and views of downtown Canandaigua but also because her studio work space was entirely open into the public exhibition space. Visitors were commonly treated to both works in progress as well as finished works created by many local artists.
As time went on Jeanne expanded the scope of her endeavor beyond mere exhibitions into the realm of workshops and demonstrations on topics such as encaustic painting. In addition, she hosted "residency" programs for local artists that resulted in collaborative artworks that were then displayed.
Late in 2018 Jeanne decided she was no longer able to balance her own creative interests with running the gallery. She will retain the space as her studio in 2019 and may well offer exhibitions in the future but she will not operate as a proper gallery for the time being.
Clifton Springs: Main Street Arts has converted into a nonprofit arts organization.
Main Street Arts was created in 2013 as a for-profit art gallery in Clifton Springs, New York; a thirty-five minute drive from downtown Rochester. The Main Street management team developed a strong business selling art and then added a range of community-based arts programs including everything from workshops for area students to full-on artist residency programs alongside programs for non-artists. Over time it became clear to the director, Bradley Butler, that in order to fill the enormous needs/interests they uncovered Main Street would best serve their community by converting to a nonprofit arts organization.
In an email to it's customers and friends on Monday, December 24, 2018 Main Street Arts announced the conversion to nonprofit status has been completed. Effective immediately Main Street Arts is a legally recognized nonprofit arts organization. As a result, donations to the new organization will be tax deductible, if you qualify and itemize your charitable donations. In addition, Main Street will be able to apply for grants from the government as well as other sources that require nonprofit status.
Main Street Arts has had a strong regional orientation from its inception. On occasion the gallery supplemented it's regional offerings with artists from all over the United States. Looking forward, based on their new mission statement, it appears they expect to reach even further to include artistic works from all over the globe.
Ten artists from the region are listed on the Main Street Arts website as being represented by the gallery: Pat Bacon, Chad Grohman, Patrick Kana, Meredith Mallwitz, Robert Ernst Marx, Lanna Pejovic, Jody Selin, Mike Tarantelli and Sylvia Taylor. It's not common for nonprofit arts organizations to represent individual artists. We'll have to wait-and-see if Main Street continues to represent these artists under it's new auspices.
Have Hope Tattoo and Gallery has opened.
There's a new alternative art gallery at New Hope Tattoo and Gallery. The tattoo parlor opened in August of 2018. The first art art exhibition was held in September. To get to the dedicated gallery space inside New Hope you go past the reception area and down some stairs to the lower level.
When you walk into the gallery you'll be impressed by the look. There are no white walls in this gallery. Instead New Hope has designed the space with what looks like reclaimed barn wood to match the finishes upstairs in the reception area.
The business owner, Zach Wheeler, says he'll either curate what's shown in the gallery himself or collaborate as well as invite outside curators to plug in. He expects exhibitions to cycle in and out every couple of months or so.
Even though Rochester Art Collectors has only been in existence for nine months our group has offered twenty-one programs with the help of seventeen partner organizations. All but two of the programs were free to attendees. "Lure Of The Local," a panel discussion developed in collaboration with the Memorial Art Gallery, and "Think globally. Create, experience and collect locally," done in partnership with Rochester Contemporary, both required an admission fee to those who were not already members of those institutions.
We don't have an exact count but we believe our programs exposed attendees to several hundred artists' works for sale over the course of 2018. Generally speaking we try to hold our events inside of galleries during group exhibitions so attendees can both see and purchase works of art as well as pick up a little education. Event attendees were informed on a wide array of topics at our events including understanding and collecting glass, ceramics, and photography to printmaking, and more. All but five of our programs were open to the public.
Our five member-only programs in 2018 fell into two categories: "Collectors Circles" and "Collectors Previews". Members participating in a "Collector Circle" event may bring a piece of art from their collection created by someone other than themselves to talk about with the group. In addition, we have a guest speaker present information of interest to collectors. Usually we hold "Collectors Circle" events in a gallery during a group show. Members were also invited to three "Collectors Preview" events. Every so often we are able to gain access to exhibitions BEFORE the show is open to the public thereby providing members an opportunity to see and purchase works of art before the general public.
Here's the list of program events held in 2018. The most recent events are shown at the top.
When RochesterArtCollectors.org launched its website unofficially in December, 2017 we set goals around what we wanted to accomplish and then took a shot in the dark designing the site.
Before the organization's launch on April 1, 2018 we tweaked the website layout and much of the content adding pages describing the organization's mission and vision; plugging in a reservation system for our programs and adding a members only section.
Over the past couple of months we have evaluated our results, considered feedback from members (as well as non-member users) and started to edit and update the site to better match our goals and the expressed needs/interests. This process will be ongoing.
Here are some of the most recent updates:
We are still working on revisions and upgrades in our "members only" section. More on this in a future post.
On Tuesday, October 23rd at 6:30 pm we held our second "Collectors Circle" program. This one was held at Oxford Gallery. It was just as successful at the first one, held earlier in the year at Makers Gallery.
The Collectors Circle program is open only to members and seating is limited to just 30 people. We like to gather in an exhibition space during a current show. Typically a special guest speaker is invited to present on a topic of interest to member-participants.
The first 30 minutes of the program are are social . Members take some time to look at the work on exhibit; grab a bite and a sip while chatting with one another. Before too long we gather in a large circle. Each collector presents an original work of art from their collection to the group. Usually we hear a little background about the work and how the collector came to own it. Sometimes we hear why it's important to the owner's collection or why it's important to the collector or both.
This time around we heard stories about works of art saved by relatives who were refugees fleeing Nazi's during the World War II era and later given to the collector. At one point the lights were dimmed so that we could all experience the luminescence of an Op-Art piece from the 80s. An early 20th century landscape was presented along with details about the painter and it's importance to the collector. We even saw a bronze casting of a disposable cup lid from a show in 2016; As you can tell there was a wide range of work!
After the collectors presented their works of art we turned the floor over to Oxford Gallery owner, Jim Hall. He talked about the long history of Oxford Gallery. Established in the 1960s Oxford is the longest continuously running commercial gallery in Rochester. Jim and his wife, Ginny, have owned the gallery for 25 years. Oxford represents over 40 artist and exhibits their works on consignment - usually organized around exhibition themes - throughout the year. In addition, Jim is an active art dealer specializing in 19th century works. He closed his talk with a traditional definition of art collecting that prompted a lively discussion. The group broke up around 8:30 pm.
The next Collectors Circle will be held early in 2019. Details will be announced sometime after January 1, 2019.
We are very pleased to announce Mark Harrington has become the 300th member of Rochester Art Collectors!
It seems Mark was destined to appreciate and collect art. At the age of eight, without his parents knowledge, he rode his bike ten blocks to a local grocery store and bought a small oil painting of ducks in flight with his allowance. He gave that painting to his Mom. She kept it on her desk until she passed. It now hangs in his study in Pittsford. That was just the beginning..
During his early school years Mark's interest in art intensified and his activities expanded to include collecting. In high school Mark became friends with the daughter of the curator at the McNay Art Institute. While attending a exhibition at the McNay Mark was introduced to Lita Albuquerque, whose work is in the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection. Lita and her work made a lasting impression on Mark. Their friendship blossomed. While attending college in Austin Mark began collecting art with some regularity. He made a practice of visiting student art exhibitions, purchasing work that spoke to him along the way.
After business school while living in New York City in 1979 Mark became acquainted with Dorothy and Herb Vogel through Tom Armstrong, then curator of the Whitney Museum. The Vogels were two of the most remarkable people Mark had the pleasure of knowing. They were a fixture on the NYC art scene. The Vogels introduced Mark to important art dealers and taught him the ropes. Thanks to the Vogels he met Gracie Mansion at the opening of the first gallery exhibit of “graffiti art” created by Keith Haring and Jean Michel Basquiat.
During their lifetimes the Dorothy and Herb Vogel amassed over 4,000 minimalist and conceptual works along with a fair number of abstract expressionist works. They built their massive collection on modest civil servants’ salaries. Herb worked in the Post Office and Dorothy worked as a librarian. They lived in a small two-bedroom walkup on 86th Street in Manhattan. Ultimately their collection was bequeathed to 50 different museums: 50 works to each of 50 museums in 50 states.
Harrington says, "The Vogels taught me the importance of getting to know the artist and seeing their work progress over time. Most importantly, they stressed that if a work moved me, and it was the first thing I saw in my mind when I woke up, go buy it on the spot." As with the Vogels, I never have and never will sell any piece I buy. Investment value is unimportant to me. What matters is how my heart and soul respond. Herb said he never wanted to build a collection, it just happened. He taught me to think of each piece as a friend that lived with me.
"I joined Rochester Art Collectors to participate in a vibrant community of art lovers, to support artists and to purchase beautiful works of art."
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