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Sweet inspiration

Sally Wood Winslow, director of the Center at High Falls Fine Art Gallery, didn't care that Ben Schamberger brought his candy table in past the recent Text and Texture exhibit's deadline. "We looked at it and said 'we have to have it,'" she says.

            The table looks like something out of an upscale Hansel and Gretel. Schamberger built the wooden frame himself before melting dozens of Jolly Rancher candies to its surface. Around the block of colorful candy tiles, he hot-glued wrapped butterscotches, Mary Janes, and caramels. He stuck licorice, chocolate coins, Andes mints, and gummy raspberries in patterns on the table's legs, and then covered the entire work with varnish.

            Schamberger's table was put upstairs with the rest of the gallery's exhibit, until Winslow had an epiphany: use it as a donation table. "Ben's piece is in the spirit of our place," she says.

            Schamberger's favorite medium is acrylic paint, but he works with media like candy if it helps him achieve the results he wants. He calls his style "abstract classicism" and almost always starts with an end in mind. "I'll have a picture in my head," Schamberger says. "Nothing on the canvas."

            While he sold a small oil painting just last week, Schamberger --- who often spends several hundred dollars stocking up on paints, and spent over $200 making the candy table --- has been generous with his art in the past. "I let people take it," he says. "It's kind of floating around the city in people's houses."

            He keeps one of his favorites in his own apartment, though. It's a splash painting of Greta Garbo buying stilettos. To make a splash painting, Schamberger takes a long paintbrush, dips it in paint, and hits it against his wrist. He also squirts tubes of paint directly onto the canvas.

            Schamberger has several other pieces on display right now at Roberts Wesleyan College, where he is a senior and education major. He loves to experiment with motion, especially when the subject is a horse. "Can you capture movement in a two-dimensional image?" he asks. "I don't know if you can, but I can try."

            The Center at High Falls Fine Art Gallery is at 60 Browns Race. 325-2414, www.centerathighfalls.org.

--- Jennifer Weiss

The enemies within

Unnamed enemies in the Democratic Party essentially forced David Perez to resign from the Rochester City School Board, says longtime friend Adam McFadden.

            McFadden, a city council member, wouldn't name names, but said it was more than one person and that these people do not hold elected office --- which rules out members of city council or school board.

            Perez was elected to his first term on the school board last November.

            City Newspaper has obtained a copy of a letter Perez sent to his fellow board members dated Sunday, March 14. In it, he writes that he owns property outside of city limits and was temporarily living with his in-laws in the city at the time of his inauguration in January.

            "I currently have a dual residency situation," he writes. "It was my intent to solidify permanent residency in the city while maintaining said property outside of [the] city. Someone has challenged this intent."

            City school board members must live in the city. McFadden says Perez decided to resign rather than fight threats to out his residency issues.

            "It just stressed him out," McFadden says. "He could have easily fought... he said, 'You know what? I don't want to have to deal with this. I'm going to be with my family.'"

            School Board Commissioner Rob Brown says he had no idea Perez owned property outside the city.

What's up with RoCo?

It's probably all over town by now that the Rochester Contemporary (RoCo) decided to eliminate its one-and-only paid position, that of executive director, which for nearly a decade was held by Elizabeth McDade.

            So, what does this mean for RoCo? Well, for starters, not too much, at least according to its board. The gallery is a mainstay in the Rochester contemporary art scene, and it only recently relocated to its new downtown home at 137 East Avenue. The current exhibition featuring work by Elizabeth Lyons and Mark Sawrie will continue as planned, as will the 20th Annual Art Auction in June. But what's in the wings after June?

            According to a news release, the board thinks it can share McDade's duties with an all-volunteer crew. Running any gallery tends to involve a wide range of chores, including: contacting artists, compiling checklists, generating labels, ordering and/or designing announcements, mailing, fundraising, installing shows... the list goes on.

            There are other developments hinting at changes on RoCo's horizon: Although it's only met a couple of times so far, a newly formed RoCo Programming Committee could signal a hopeful new direction for the gallery. Indeed, it was McDade who first turned us on to the committee's existence back in October, when we spoke with her just before RoCo's grand reopening.

            She remarked that people who complain about what is or isn't being exhibited at RoCo (all you art curmudgeons out there know who you are) should instead get involved --- either submit your own proposals or join the committee and review the proposals of others.

--- Alex Miokovic and Heidi Nickisher

Faith or good works

Local religious people have been flocking to opposite positions on same-sex marriage.

            The pro position got a boost March 18, when dozens of clergy and allies gathered downtown in support of equal marriage-rights for all couples. The prayer breakfast, opened by the Rev. George Tyger of First Universalist Church, released an "Interfaith Statement" that called on the state not to "interfere with same-sex couples who choose to marry." The statement opposed a constitutional amendment that would deny equal-marriage rights.

            The event featured several speakers. Rabbi Alan Katz of Temple Sinai lamented that "this issue has brought the realization that we religious [people] have been co-opted by the state." The state, he said, should not engage in "denying rights to people."

            Theologian H. Darrell Lance said marriage in the Bible is different than many think --- it comprises polygamy, for example. Besides, he said, the Christian Church didn't sanctify marriage until 1215. (This was at the Fourth Lateran Council, which dealt with matrimony and other sacraments. The Council improved on an earlier Christian belief that marriage was "a necessary evil," or as St. Paul put it, "better to marry than to burn.")

            Opponents of same-sex marriage, said the Rev. Clark West, an Episcopal priest, just can't bring themselves to countenance the fact of gay sexual activity within the relationship. Clark challenged the idea that it's all about the kids. Children are not an essential part of marriage, he said, "but sex is." He referred to the views of Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury: "Can we see sex as a good in itself, [something] for our mutual joy?"

            Dee Miller, a member of Downtown United Presbyterian Church, told of her personal experience. After 22 years of marriage to a man, the bearing of four children, a divorce, and years of being afraid she'd be discovered and lose her kids, Miller is out and outspoken. Just six weeks ago, she said, she and her partner traveled to Niagara Falls, Ontario, where they were married by a Canadian Unitarian minister. She said Niagara municipal officials were very welcoming. "Wouldn't it have been nice," she mused, "if we could have gone across the street [from DUPC] to City Hall" to get the marriage license?

            In a separate forum, clergy from the Faith Community Alliance, a coalition of African-American congregations (Black Baptist, African Methodist Episcopal, etc.), have spoken strongly against gay marriage rights. The Alliance's designated spokesperson, the Rev. Norvel Goff Sr. of Baber AME Church, did not return calls for comment. But Alliance member Rev. John Walker of the Christian Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, speaking for himself, outlined the objections.

            Walker told us the Alliance opposes gay marriage "because it is non-Christian, non-Biblical, and unnatural." He said marriage, as "ordained by God," exists primarily for the bearing of children and other traditional purposes.

            But are all gay relationships therefore wrong? "Yes, if they're sexual," said Walker. "It's really just a sexual sin," he said, as with fornication and incest. He added that --- though the Alliance has not taken up the question --- he doesn't see any objection to domestic partnership benefits.

            He also noted the Alliance's position isn't much different from that of the Roman Catholic Church and some other religious institutions.

Peace in New York

Roughly 100 Rochesterians took chartered buses to New York City March 20 for an anti-war-and-occupation rally marking the first anniversary of the Iraq invasion. Tom Moore, a Metro Justice member who served as a bus captain, estimates another 200 locals went down there by other means. He says around 100,000 took part overall. "My bus was mostly college students," he says. "The streets were chock full... a lot of people expressing a lot of opinions on what this all meant." He adds there was good representation from every age group.

            Moore recalls hearing Rochesterian Khury Petersen-Smith giving a speech about his experiences in a recent visit to Iraq. (See City Newspaper, February 4, 2002, for more on Petersen-Smith and his journey.) Overall, says Moore, the rally went very smoothly. "Everybody looked pretty calm," he says. "There seemed to be a peaceful feeling about the whole [event]."

            Large numbers of police were on the streets, says Moore, but they acted with much greater restraint than police officers did a year ago at an anti-war rally in Lower Manhattan. Mostly, he says, "they were keeping people out of the parks."

            Down in the District of Columbia recently, a different anniversary message was proclaimed.

            The House of Representatives passed a resolution that claims "the United States and the world have been made safer with the removal of Saddam Hussein and his regime." The resolution also "commends the Iraqi people for their courage in the face of unspeakable oppression" imposed by Saddam Hussein, congratulates Iraqis for adopting an interim constitution, and applauds "the U.S. Armed Forces and Coalition forces for liberating Iraq" and for their "valiant service."

            No mention of perhaps 10,000 dead Iraqi civilians or an ever-growing threat to civilians and troops everywhere.

            The House vote was 327 for, 93 against, seven voting "present," and seven not voting. Western and Central New York Congressmembers Boehlert, Houghton, Quinn, Reynolds, and Slaughter all voted yes, while Maurice Hinchey voted no. Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich did not vote.

Funky junk for Unk

Rock 'n' roll is helping out the man who helped it out in Rochester for so many years. WCMF's late-night cat, the late Unkle Roger McCall, was slain in late December, leaving a huge void in the music community and his family.

            Long-time McCall pal and Sphere Sound Records bigwig Scott Van Dusen has rallied some of the big national troops to raise money for the wife and son Rog left behind.

            Cheap Trick's Tom Petersson, The Rolling Stones' Darryl Jones, Todd Rundgren and Kasim Sulton of Utopia, as well as other artists and manufacturers have all donated some pretty sweet swag that Van Dusen hopes will raise "thousands" for the family.

The "Auctions For Unk" is can be found at www.spheresound.com. Fifty percent of the net proceeds from all goods sold will go to McCall's family.

Correcting ourselves

In his March 3 "Gut instincts" review of Infantino's, Adam Wilcox incorrectly implied that there was butter (a ton of it) in the restaurant's greens and beans. There is, in fact, no butter in the dish. Our apologies to Infantino's and the lactose intolerant.

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