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Metro ink - 09.06.06


Mark and Diane Weisbeck are competing in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China --- as artists.

Chinese Olympic officials, says the Honeoye couple, recently requested artists across the globe to submit model sculptures. At least three of those pieces will be constructed at the site of the ceremonies. The Weisbecks, who were among more than 2,500 applicants, are in a finalist pool of about 100.

At their house on the edge of HoneoyeLake, the Weisbecks show off a replica of their project. It looks like an inverted "V." Two trees rest at each leg and reflect off the project's shiny metal surface. The Weisbecks named the piece "The Spirit of Ren," which translates roughly to the "spirit of humanity." Mark says the name symbolizes the shape of the piece, which resembles the Chinese character for the word "person."

The Weisbecks were also recently selected as the artists for another sculpture: "Water Spirits." A local panel of judges selected "Spirits" for Mark IV's Corn Hill Landing project between the GeneseeRiver and Exchange Street. The piece will be 30 feet tall, Diane said at the city's announcement, and represents "two stylized human figures," a man and a woman, that "seem to rise out of the river." City officials are still determining whether to orient the sculpture toward the street or the river, the artists say.

The Weisbecks collaborate on most of their work. While Mark, who studied anthropology and architecture at the University of Buffalo, sketches and sculpts the works, Diane selects which drawings she likes, helps with project details, and markets the Weisbeck name. "I try to play the role of the client," says Diane, who is also an art teacher.

Mark says he got his start not as a sculptor, but as a product designer, and he specializes in leather desk accessories. (They come at a price; for example, a leather desk organizer sells for almost $600.) Mark also sells everything from tables to walking sticks to magnifying glasses, one of which ended up in New York City's Museum of Modern Art for three years. "It was a nice achievement," Mark says.

A signature of both his products and his sculptures is the use of simple lines and shiny metals. There's a minimalist, almost mathematical quality to his work. And he says he likes to create art that "has longevity." Someday, he says, he would like to design a bridge, the ultimate fusion of aesthetics and utility.

--- Sujata Gupta


The University of Rochester and St. JohnFisherCollege should have no problem drawing a hefty crowd for the second annual Courage Bowl this Saturday at U of R's Fauver Stadium. Last year's inaugural event --- which Fisher won, 58-32 --- attracted an overflow crowd to Fisher's Growney Stadium, and both schools expect similar attendance success this year.

The U of R-Fisher cross-town rivalry is a relatively new one --- the teams have played only 11 times, with Rochester leading the series, 7-4 --- but it's quickly growing in size and importance for both schools.

"With this being the Courage Bowl, being televised on live TV and playing in front of nearly 6,000 people, I'm sure the adrenaline will be flowing," says Fisher coach Paul Vosburgh.

The game will be particularly important, says Vosburgh, because of the connection to Camp Good Days and Special Times, a program for children with terminal illnesses.

"To me, the Courage Bowl, isn't just about football," Vosburgh said. "After spending a week with some kids, our players realized just how fortunate they are, and they want to win the game not for themselves, but for the children."

Tickets for the Courage Bowl are $5 and can be purchased at Fauver Stadium on Saturday at 5:30 p.m., with kickoff at 7 p.m.

--- Ryan Whirty


Good fences make good neighbors, as the saying goes. But for some of the residents on Harvard Street east of Culver Road, it's rainbows.

About a month ago, Todd Perkins and his partner Mark Ritter found the rainbow flag from their porch damaged and thrown on the ground.

Perkins and Ritter say they don't know who destroyed the flag, and Ritter says he doesn't think he and his partner were being singled out. But other problems followed, including their garbage can being set on fire and human excrement left on their steps.

When members of the CHAP 21 Neighborhood Association heard of the problems, they began placing rainbow flags on their own houses in a show of support. Last week, there were 10: large rainbow flags, small rainbow flags, a rainbow wind sock.

"I was amazed," says Ritter. "We just weren't expecting this. A lot of our neighbors were just as concerned about the pranks as we were."

The problems seemed to end, says Ritter, once all the flags appeared about two weeks ago.

--- Tim Louis Macaluso


The first question asked at last Wednesday's gubernatorial forum at RIT seemed straightforward enough.

Our taxes are too high," said one Carrie Laraby, from Mendon. "What are you going to do to lower them?"

But considering that it was directed at Republican candidate John Faso, who's made taxes the primary platform of his campaign, it was more than a bit of a softball question.

That didn't stop the Democrat and Chronicle from leading with it, in its report the next day, and gravely speculating that it might be the top issue "on most people's minds." The D&C did not mention that Laraby is a deputy clerk for the GOP-controlledMonroeCounty Legislature.

Time Warner broadcast the event from studios at RIT and in New York City, Syracuse, and the Capital District, and readers in the Capitol District got a little fuller disclosure.

The second question for Faso, from the studio audience in Rotterdam, was similar to the first: "Property taxes are way too high. What are you doing to level them?"

It didn't take long --- the debate was still in progress --- for Elizabeth Benjamin, the Albany Times-Union's lead political reporter, to note the questioner's identify on the paper's political blog. He's "Carl Zeilman, spokesman for the GOP-controlledTown of Colonie, Albany County Legislature candidate, and former coordinator of member services for the Assembly minority."

Candidates were given a certain number of invitations to hand out among supporters, and prominent local Democrats were also in evidence at RIT. (Monroe County Chair Joe Morelle sent out an e-mail to party, faithful urging them to show up and support Spitzer.) And while both Spitzer and Suozzi also got their fair share of softball questions, neither seemed to have to resort to plants --- at least not to such obvious ones.

Sadly, such insider political curiosities were among the most newsworthy things to come out of the event; what the candidates actually said didn't depart from their well-worn campaign rhetoric.

--- Krestia DeGeorge