Although Rochester has a number of respectable art museums and galleries, rarely will these venues show anything outside the mainstream. For an art space to do something daring, quite often it has to rely on the vision and resources of an individual or a small group of people.
Fortunately, Rochester has a few such alternative places. One of them is not yet even open to the public. door7 originally opened in late 2003 as a collaborative student-run art space. John Yost and David Kaplan did an amazing job organizing a large exhibition of painters, photographers, sculptors, and filmmakers. The work was both interesting and well presented.
Yost, now partnering with Tom Papows and with the help of a dedicated group of RIT students, has brought this venture back as a more permanent entity. This time, though, it's in a different location (439 Central Avenue, 512-470-0078, www.door7.org). And with 14,000 square feet to work with, door7 will try to be a new space to show new work. But Yost wants it to be more than just an art gallery. He sees his work as building a new community that will integrate with a student community and the city at large.
Then there is the Rochester Contemporary (137 East Avenue, 461-2222, www.rochestercontemporary.org), formerly known as the Pyramid Arts Center, which probably started in a similar way and has persevered for almost 30 years. In that time RoCo has provided an exhibition venue for the local art community and made a commitment to showing work that is visually and intellectually stimulating. Now in the process of hiring a new director and with a new manager already in place, RoCo is on the move to becoming an even stronger art institution.
A/V is another intriguing space that shows some of the most daring visual work and is also a venue for experimental music. A/V (8 Public Market, 423-0320, www.artsoundspace.org) recently hosted the work of the Evolutionary Girls Club, a group of artists and activists. It was the best show in Rochester so far this year.
Another space that has gone through many transformations is Artisan Works (565 Blossom Road, 288-7170, www.artisanworks.net). This place is one of the most amazing spectacles --- thousands of square feet of art and artists. It has to be seen to be believed.