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From studio to social engagement

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One of the valuable things about art, in its many forms, is that it serves as a crucial entry point for difficult discussions. We're faced with social and political strife that feels more urgent every day, and while it's important to be engaged, it can be challenging to discussing the issues and avoid conflict.

While art moves the audience, it educates, and connects us to the experiences of others. What are our common and unique struggles?

This arts season, you'll find no shortage of exhibits and events that tackle complicated issues. There's also a load of fun-looking exhibits that more simply showcase a depth and breadth of artistic practice and interests. Here's a preview of some of the intriguing shows and arts events that Rochester's museums and galleries are presenting through early 2019.

And this is only a sampling of what's to come, so look for more info about scheduled shows on individual websites, and check out CITY Newspaper in print and online.

If you've missed out on Rachel DeGuzman's powerful "At the Crossroads: Activating the Intersection of Art and Justice" series, it's time to change that. Held since the fall of 2017, the series spotlights a variety of important social and political issues and focuses on the intersection of race and gender. Upcoming events in the series are "Black and Disabled" on October 7, "Capitalism and Democracy" on October 27, and "Stay in Your Own Back Yard" on January 18, 2019.

Events typically start with a series of short artistic provocations – films, installations, poetry readings, and the like – followed by discussion. This year's series is hosted at Gallery 74 (215 Tremont Street). Registration for each event is $15. Learn more about the series, past events, and what's coming up at facebook.com/artandjusticeROC.

From "ChasingNirvanaClean: Photographs by Simone Ochrym" at Flower City Arts Center. - PHOTO PROVIDED
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  • From "ChasingNirvanaClean: Photographs by Simone Ochrym" at Flower City Arts Center.

Through October 20, Flower City Arts Center's Photography Gallery (713 Monroe Avenue) is hosting "ChasingNirvanaClean: Photographs by Simone Ochrym." This photojournalism and storytelling project focuses on individuals in recovery from addiction, with a specific spotlight on how and why people enter and remain in long term addiction recovery. Donations will go to Studio 678 Youth Photography Program, ChasingNirvanaClean, and Find Your Path addictions resource center. Gallery hours are Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; and Friday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. The center's Firehouse Gallery through September 29 is presenting "A Material Thing." Artist and RIT educator John Shea's work embodies abstracted relationships that connect to the way we see and think about objects. Gallery hours: Monday through Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday, 9 a.m to 9:30 p.m.; and Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission to the center is free. 244-1730; rochesterarts.org.

From April 5 through May 6, 2019, Link Gallery at City Hall (30 Church Street) will host an exhibition of work by the kids in Studio 678, Flower City Art Center's afterschool photography program for Wilson Foundation Academy students in grades 6-8. Link Gallery's hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and admission is free. 244-1730; rochesterarts.org.

Illustration from Dave Calver's "Limbo Lounge" exhibit at Rochester Contemporary. - PHOTO PROVIDED
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  • Illustration from Dave Calver's "Limbo Lounge" exhibit at Rochester Contemporary.

Through September 22, Rochester Contemporary Art Center (137 East Avenue) is concurrently exhibiting "On the Side," rarely seen work by some of Rochester's well-known designers, photographers, and graphic artists who are members of the Rochester Advertising Federatio, and "Limbo Lounge," playfully surreal visions of purgatory by former Rochesterian and illustrator Dave Calver.

A bit later in the fall, RoCo, Buffalo's Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, and Buffalo-based arts consultancy RESOURCE:ART have teamed up to present the inaugural "PLAY/GROUND," an immersive art experience in the former Medina High School (324 Catherine Street, Medina). The group exhibition takes place Friday through Sunday, October 12 to 14. Learn more at artplaygroundny.com.

Back in the city, RoCo will host "Under Pressure: Redefining the Multiple," its annual collaboration with The Print Club of Rochester. The group show features work by local, national, and international artists and exhibit dates are October 5 to November 17. Also exhibited during those dates is Itinerant Artist Jim Mott's "Landscape Lottery," which features landscape paintings the artist created after rolling dice to generate random GPS points. RoCo's 28th Annual Members Exhibition is scheduled for December 7 through January 13, 2019. And the 2019 dates for "6x6," the massive show of small artworks, are June 1 through July 14, 2019 (artworks due April 14; online preview begins May 17). General admission to Rochester Contemporary is $2; free to members. Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.; Friday until 9 p.m. 461-2222; rochestercontemporary.org.

Rochester Institute of Technology's Gallery r (formerly at 100 College Avenue) has been rebranded as RIT City Art Space, which will be located in the historic Sibley Tower Building (250 East Main Street). Set to open this fall, the space will serve as the premier exhibition venue RIT students, faculty, and alumni. It will also serve as a site for experiential learning through exhibitions and programming for RIT's College of Art and Design students. Learn more at cityartspace.rit.edu.

From "AIDS FLASHback by Lola Flash" at VSW. - PHOTO PROVIDED
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  • From "AIDS FLASHback by Lola Flash" at VSW.

Visual Studies Workshop (31 Prince Street) has a great-looking roster of shows scheduled that grapple with a range of social and political topics. Through October 27, VSW Gallery is hosting "AIDS FLASHback by Lola Flash" in collaboration with ImageOut Art (a program of the Rochester LGBT film and video festival). The photographs focus on Flash's former work as an activist at the height of the AIDS crisis in New York City, and include images of ACT UP demonstrations in New York and Washington, DC. Other pictures convey the emotional impact of losing friends en masse and anger toward institutions that failed to act.

Through the fall and into the spring of 2019, VSW's Project Space One and Project Space Two will host a series of month-long residencies with artists creating work that focuses on immigration ("The Memory Thief" by Beina Xu, through October 6; and "Sanctuary City" by Rigoberto Díaz, October 8 to November 3), gender ("Gender Transgression Before the Internet" by Jeffrey Cougler, through October 6), and race ("I Am a Man" by Joshua Rashaad McFadden, February 11 through March 9, 2019). Tuesday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free. 442-8676; vsw.org.

French Impressionist Claude Monet was known for repeatedly painting a specific vista at different times of day and night and capturing the way light, humidity, and other atmospheric conditions altered the look of the place. Monet created different series on Rouen Cathedral, on his gardens at Giverny, and on a specific bridge over the Thames River, which is the subject of "Monet's Waterloo Bridge: Vision and Process," on view at the Memorial Art Gallery (500 University Avenue) from October 7 through January 6, 2019.

"Monet's Waterloo Bridge: Vision and Process" at Memorial Art Gallery. - PHOTO PROVIDED
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  • "Monet's Waterloo Bridge: Vision and Process" at Memorial Art Gallery.

The exhibition showcases eight of Monet's 40 paintings of the site, including the MAG's own jewel-like version and seven others borrowed from North American sister institutions. A companion exhibit held concurrently, "Seeing in Color and Black-and-White," features work by Josef Albers, Victor Vasarely, Jesús Rafael Soto, and others who created abstractions that reveal the mechanics of human vision.

Next up at MAG, from December 13 through March 31, 2019, is "Modern Czech Photography: A Portfolio," a body of work by mid-century Czech master photographers including Jaromir Funke and Josef Sudek. Published in 1942, the portfolio was produced during Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia.

After a hiatus in 2017 while the MAG's Grand Gallery was expanded, renovated, and renamed the Docent Gallery, the Rochester-Finger Lakes Exhibition will return in 2019 from June 8 through September 15. The oldest juried exhibition in Rochester, this installation will mark its 66th year of showcasing emerging and established artists from a 27-county region.

MAG's hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is $6-$15, except Thursday nights, when it's half-price. Children under the age of 5, members, and University of Rochester students get in for free. The Monet exhibit's admission is $20 (different rates for kids, students, seniors, and members). 276-8900; visit mag.rochester.edu.

Rochester artist Nick Brandreth returns to Makers Gallery and Studio (34 Elton Street, floor 3) on Saturday, October 13, with "N.M. Brandreth's Phantasmagoria Presents: Seeing Shadows," featuring new work that plays off the spooky ideas he worked with in last year's "Unadulterated Overkill" group exhibit.

Brandreth creates hand-constructed viewing boxes for his glass plate photographs that depict dreamt-up scenes of that appear pulled from old-timey horror films. The show will also feature props and masks that he used for the photo shoots and a looped short film, and a book. An artist's talk will be held on October 21, and the show will remain on view through November. Regular gallery hours are Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (until 8 p.m. on First Fridays and Second Saturdays), or by appointment. Admission is free. 507-3569; makersgalleryandstudio.com.

From Gail Albert Halaban's "Out My Window" at Eastman Museum. - PHOTO PROVIDED
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  • From Gail Albert Halaban's "Out My Window" at Eastman Museum.

The Project Gallery at George Eastman Museum (900 East Avenue) through January 1, 2019, is exhibiting Gail Albert Halaban's "Out My Window," a series of large-scale photographs made with the cooperation of Halaban's neighbors. Feeling isolated when she relocated from New York City to Los Angeles, Halaban used her work as a way to engage with others by asking for their participation in her project. Her images, shot from one window and capturing interiors and people through windows across the way, depict individuals going about their lives in their private spaces. The result is a dreamy, intimate look at folks reading or cooking food, families celebrating a birthday, and couples relaxing together; small portals of activity surrounded by otherwise still, empty cityscapes.

In the museum's Main Galleries, "David Levinthal: War, Myth, Desire" continues through January 1, 2019, a major retrospective of work spanning Levinthal's four-decade career and many bodies of work. Following that, from January 25 through June 9, 2019, the Main Galleries will host "Nathan Lyons: In Pursuit of Magic," featuring a retrospective of the life and work of the Visual Studies Workshop founder, writer, photographer, curator, and educator, who died in 2016.

Concurrently, the museum's Project Gallery will host "Larson Shindelman," which is also the name of the artistic collective formed by Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman. Known for their series "Geolocation," the duo create photographs and immersive installations using publicly available GPS info embedded in social media posts to track the location of the users. Each resulting photograph depicts the location while it reacts to the content of the post, and much of their work forms a commentary on social media and the intersection of public and private realms, race relations, gun violence, politics, and issues of social justice. For this exhibit, the Eastman Museum invited the two to create a body of work specific to Rochester, using locally trending hashtags.

George Eastman Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5-$15, and free to members and children ages 4 and younger. 271-3361; eastman.org.

The Strong National Museum of Play's new interactive exhibit, "Be the Astronaut," is probably as close as many of us will bet to outer space. On view at the museum (1 Manhattan Square) through January 7, 2019, the exhibit lets visitors of all ages plan a space mission, learn about the tech and math skills required to be an astronaut, fly spaceships, pilot landers, and drive rovers (in simulation, of course). It also features real meteorites from space, memorabilia from the Soviet space program and Apollo Space Race, full-size spacesuits, and more.

Admission to The Strong is $15 for ages 2 and up, free to members and babies. The museum's hours are Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. 263-2700; museumofplay.org.

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