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.
Header image © Roy Sowers 1999
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