In case you didn't know, Rochester is a city practically bursting with art and creativity. Whether you're an artist yourself, an art enthusiast, or just in need a break from your studies, the Rochester art scene is home to many popular venues -- as well as exciting hidden treasures -- that will open your mind to new ideas, and possibly give you a new perspective on how to view the world. However, there is a catch: you have to leave your dorm room -- and probably your campus -- to experience what the city has to offer.
If you're wondering why you should venture out, remember that art is more than pretty pictures and naked statues. "Art is inspirational, always personal," says Meg Colombo, who manages public relations and social media for the MemorialArtGallery, Rochester's primary fine art museum. "It's a good time to recharge your batteries, to refocus."
With the increasing isolation -- or self-sufficiency -- of college campuses, it can be difficult for students to connect with the cities in which they find themselves. But if you miss out on the art and the culture of a place, then you're missing out on city as a whole. Keep in mind, the following venues are but a few stops in Rochester's art world. A more comprehensive list can be found in the sidebar.
Imagine driving up to a massive warehouse where a yellow elephant directs you where to park. As you make the 20-yard walk toward the entrance, the adjacent wall gives you a glimpse of what's to come: block after block of murals, each the work of a different artist. But nothing can prepare you to cross the threshold. Art. Everywhere.Surrounding you.Created in front of you.A giant wooden recreation of a doorknob next to a 12'x12' abstract painting, behind a hanging, free-falling man-fish. And that's just a small corner of the reception atrium. This is ARTISANworks.
"We have created an experience...a Disneyland for art," says Louis Perticone, founder of ARTISANworks. "As a student from another city, this is a place that can be globally understood."
As you wander through room after room featuring different themes, such as the Marilyn Monroe room, a Japanese tea room, or the Frank Lloyd Wright room (complete with a wine cellar, original furniture, and a spiral staircase that leads to a perfect study space) the experience can only be described as overwhelming. The space is practically overflowing with every variety of art, from preserved giraffes to an entire car made from wood. To top it off, anything you can see, you can touch. This is not a museum. Interspersed are studios for actual working artists, who may be available to speak with visitors (if their doors are open).
ARTISANworks is located on 565 Blossom Road, and is open Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday noon-5 p.m., with introductory tours Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Admission costs $12 for adults and $8 for students, but if you sign up for a student membership ($30) you get unlimited free admission for the year. For more information call 585-288-7170 or visit artisanworks.net.
The Rochester Contemporary Art Center -- often referred to simply as RoCo -- offers a change of pace. This small gallery in the East End supports a number of artists from the local community, while bringing in national and even international artists for exhibits. As with all galleries, the exhibits change regularly. However, look for unique collaborations with visual artists and musicians such as Influx, or performance artists The Bloody Noes. These kinds of partnerships make RoCo "smart and thoughtful," according to its director, Bleu Cease. The works displayed at this venue will challenge how you think about contemporary art.
RoCo also organizes First Friday, a collaborative effort between more than 30 art venues across the city that stay open late to the public on the first Friday of most months, usually running 6-9 p.m. It's an opportunity to get out to see some new shows, visit some new galleries, and spur interesting discussions about art. Check out the campus galleries sidebar to see if your campus gallery participates in First Friday, or go to firstfridayrochester.org for more information and a line-up of each month's participants.
Rochester Contemporary is located at 137 East Ave. It is open Wednesday-Sunday 1-5 p.m., and Friday until 10 p.m. Admission is $1. Student memberships cost $20 and include free admission for a year, invitations to opening receptions, discounts for special events, and exhibition opportunities. For more information call 461-2222 or visit rochestercontemporary.org.
The Memorial Art Gallery is renowned for its more-than-12,000-piece collection. Here you'll find art from multiple centuries in seven standing exhibits, with two rotating galleries that often showcase international artists with new work.
The MAG is more than just an art gallery; it's a creative communal space that students can take specific advantage of, as it is a part of the University of Rochester and geared toward the learning experience. With the installation of a new sculpture garden, poetry and art walk, and amphitheater (scheduled to be open to the public in the beginning of October), the outdoor possibilities are also set to expand.
If you are looking for an excuse to get off campus, on Thursdays 6:30-9 p.m. the MAG stays open late, charges half-price admission, and offers live jazz and tapas meals available for purchase. The museum also hosts "family days" several times a year, which include free performances, an open house at the MAG's Creative Workshop (which offers classes on everything from ceramic sculpture to watercolor to sewing), and other activities. If you are looking for a quiet escape, the atrium has free wi-fi and enough art to get you through your research paper.
The Memorial Art Gallery is located on 500 University Ave. and is open Wednesday-Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursdays 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Admission is $8 for students, and free for UR students ($12 for the general public); student membership is $35 for full-time students with ID and includes unlimited admission, discounts at the Creative Workshop and Gallery Store, and two free guest passes. For more information call 585-276-8900 or visit mag.rochester.edu.
Additional Rochester art venues
Below are just a smattering of the dozens of galleries and art spaces found in and around the city. For a comprehensive list, check the online calendar of events on City's website, rochestercitynewspaper.com.
Anderson Alley Studios for a community of artists working in everything from fiber arts to printmaking to painting. Hosts free open houses on most second Saturdays of the month, and other special events. 250 N. Goodman St. andersonalleyartists.com.
Arts & Cultural Council A local arts hub with a small gallery on its premises that features rotating exhibits by regional artists. 277 N. Goodman St.585-473-4051. artsrochester.org
BaobabCulturalCenterAfrican cultural center that features emerging and established local, national, and international artists.728 University Ave. 585-563-2145. www.thebaobab.org.
Gallery r Student-managed art gallery, supported by RIT, which houses exhibits of student and alumni work.100 College Ave. 585-475-5154.cias.rit.edu/~galleryr.
GeneseeCenter for the Arts Features the largest ceramics studio in the Rochester area, a community darkroom, and a printing and book arts studio. Hosts a number of exhibits, events, and workshops throughout the year.713 Monroe Ave. 585-244-1730.geneseearts.org.
George Eastman House International museum of photography and film with many historic collections. It is also host to several traveling and rotating exhibitions, lectures, workshops, and films in its Dryden Theatre. 900 East Ave. 585-271-3361.eastmanhouse.org.
HighFallsFineArtGalleryTwo main galleries with year-round displays of local artists exhibiting everything from weaving to photography, plus permanent historical exhibitions.60 Browns Race.585-325-2030. centerathighfalls.org.
HungerfordBuildingAcommunity of artists and crafters studios that frequently hold open houses, exhibits, special events, and even has a performance space and a recording studio. 1115 E. Main St. thehungerford.com.
Image City Photography Gallery Dedicated to photography and images captured by light, with a rotating selection of exhibits. 722 University Ave. 585-271-2540.imagecityphotographygallery.com.
Little Theatre Café Rochester's independent and foreign movie house is also a place to listen to live music while viewing local artist work in the cafe. 240 East Ave. 585-258-0400.thelittle.org.
Oxford Gallery Features art from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, as well as contemporary art from American and European artists. 267 OxfordSt. 585-271-5885.oxfordgallery.com.
Visual Studies Workshop Artist-run educational and support center for photography and other media arts, as well as home to Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism. Also features exhibits of contemporary and historic media-based art, including video, audio, and books-as-art. 31 Prince St. 585-442-8676.vsw.org.
Maybe you've just settled in and you may not be quite ready to explore the city. But don't fret: most of the colleges in the Rochester area have galleries on campus that feature your fellow students work as well as exhibits from professional artists. Check your school's website for details.
MonroeCommunity College: Mercer Gallery, Building 12-114 North Atrium (FineArtsBuilding)
NazarethCollege: ColacinoArtGallery (ArtDepartment wing of the ArtsCenter); Arts Center Gallery (ArtsCenter)
RobertsWesleyanCollege: Davison Gallery, CulturalLifeCenter, lower atrium
Rochester Institute of Technology: Cary Collection, Wallace Library
St. John Fisher: Patricia O'Keefe RossGallery, WelcomeCenter
SUNY Brockport: A Different Path Gallery, 27 Market St.; Tower Fine Arts Center Gallery, Tower Fine Arts Center; Gallery at Joseph S. Shalny Welcome Center
SUNY Geneseo: Lockhart Gallery, McClellan House at 26 Main St.; Lederer Gallery, Brodie Fine Arts Building, Room 203; Gallery B2, Bertha V.B. Lederer Gallery; Bridge Gallery, Brodie Hall
University of Rochester: ASIS Gallery, Sage Art Center; The Gallery at the Art and Music Library, Rush Rhees Library; Hartnett Gallery, Wilson Commons; The pasSage Gallery, Rush Rhees Library; Senior Thesis Gallery, Virtual Gallery