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Finding Art

By Faith Gruver
In fifth grade my art teacher suggested that I enroll in a class at the Memorial Art Gallery.  It wasn’t until the summer before my freshman year of high school that I finally signed up for my first class in the Creative Workshop.  At my high school you are only allowed to take one art/music elective and because I was part of our orchestra, I was unable to take an art class.  As a result I turned to the Creative Workshop to further my education in the fine arts.  I based my class selection on how much I enjoyed the museum and signed up for Drawing in the Galleries.  It didn’t seem possible, but somehow I fell even more in love with the museum while taking this class.  Learning how much detail and thought went into the compositions of each work gave me a new understanding of how to craft works of art.  From the direction of brushstrokes to subtle nuances of color, my instructor explained how artists guide the viewer’s eye through a painting.

Faith Gruver with her art

Faith Gruver with her art work (click on photo for a larger view)

The next two classes that I took were selected with an impending portfolio for my college application in mind.  In a drawing class and a portfolio workshop, Gina Zanolli imparted in me classical techniques used by the masters.  I learned the importance of proportion in establishing realism, as well as a new way to draw portraits by layering shadows before adding lines.  Gina also used the gallery as a resource for learning and inspiration.  This allowed us to see the techniques that we had learned in class at play in work done by artists that we admired.

Most recently I attended a Drawing With Value class taught by Brian O’Neill.  Once again a new technique was learned that improved my artwork greatly.  Through focusing on small portions of a photograph at a time, we were able to render a highly realistic piece in black and white charcoal.  Brian also taught us the importance of the weight of our lines and how to create seamless transitions from dark to light.  Everyone in the class was able to create at least one solid piece of work that we could be proud of.  I was so happy with the results that I was able to apply the technique on my own at home in another drawing.

I can hardly begin to explain the level of gratitude that I have for the Creative Workshop.  The classes there have allowed me to continue to pursue my dreams when there seemed to be obstacles in the way.  Knowledgeable and supportive teachers push their students to achieve their full potential.  With the skills that I gained from these classes, I was able to apply and gain acceptance into my dream college.  This would not have been possible without the guidance of the Creative Workshop instructors, and I highly recommend others to attend as many classes as they can.

NOTE: Faith’s work is currently on view in the Lucy Burne Gallery in the Creative Workshop at MAG

Creative Workshop Adult Student Show
The Burne Gallery is open Monday – Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.

Art & Treasures – Celebrating 20 Years

2014 Art & Treasures Sale – June 12-15
submitted by Lois Sumberg, Gallery Council Member

Can you believe it! Rochester’s most prestigious garage sale, the 2014 Art & Treasures Sale will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year. I wasn’t here for the beginning, but I’m told it started out as Tuesday’s Treasures, a small, one day sale of mostly antiques and art. Twenty years later it’s still a sale of antiques and art, but so much more. Now you can rummage through four rooms of gently used antiques, artwork, jewelry, pottery, wood, china, silver, crystal, fine linens and furniture. Look for displays dedicated to gardening, kitchen gadgets, even Christmas.

Art and Treasures 2013

The textile corner from 2013 Art & Treasures

On Thursday, June 12, $10 at the door gets you into our Early Bird Sale. Shop to your heart’s content from 6-8 pm and scoop up the best bargains the sale has to offer. Tapas with Max at the Gallery is available between 5 pm and 8 pm in the Gallery’s Pavilion.

Art Glass at Art & Treasure 2013

Art Glass table – 2013 Art & Treasures

The sale is then open to the public Friday, June 13 and Saturday, June 14, 10 am-4 pm and Sunday, June 15, noon-3 pm in Cutler Union. No admission charge! Sponsored by the Gallery Council of the Memorial Art Gallery, all sales benefit the Memorial Art Gallery.

Now would be a good time for some spring cleaning of your own and see if there is anything that you would like to donate. The Council will happily accept your tax-deductible donations (no clothing, please.) Interested in donating, now? Contact Mary Lisa Sisson.
Or, our organized donation drop off days are Tuesday, June 10  and Wednesday, June 11 from 10 am-4 pm; Thursday the 12th from 9 am-noon right here at Cutler Union at the MAG. We will have volunteers available to assist you with unloading.

Alexander Matisse at Charlotte’s home.

Char Herrera and Alexander Matisse at Char's home.

Char Herrera and Alexander Matisse at Char’s home.

Charlotte Herrera, a longtime member of the Gallery’s Board of Managers and a member of the Board of the American Craft Council, hosted a reception for Alex Matisse at her home following the Matisse public lecture at the Gallery on Sunday, April 6th.  Alex’s first museum exhibition is currently on view at MAG, Alexander Matisse: New Ceramics.

Charlotte and Raul, her husband, are also craft collectors and they own a number of Alex’s pieces. You can see more of his work at his website, East Fork Pottery.

MAG’s 15 minutes of fame

We posted in January about an opportunity to collaborate with local painter and photographer, Brian O’Neill, who was close to finished with a project that he had been working on for nearly a year. It was also a project that included a group of dancers from the Rochester City Ballet. [read original our post here]

a behind the scenes shot

a ‘behind the scenes’ shot of the photo shoot

One of the goals of this project is a month long exhibit of paintings to benefit the RCB at the Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester  with an opening reception on 4-4-14. In another twist of fate, this will be the last exhibition at this location.

To quote the DandC article Brian O’Neill has found his ‘MUSE :

“O’Neill’s show will be the last public exhibition at the Arts and Cultural Council’s home at 277 N. Goodman St. before its planned relocation. The move — to Kodak Center for Performing Arts, 200 W. Ridge Road — is bittersweet, O’Neill says, because the organization has provided so much support for emerging artists, including O’Neill.” [read the full article]

We spoke with Brian, while planning on attending the opening, and asked him if he would share some thoughts on how this HUGE project came to be. He also shared a preview of one of the finished pieces with us.

“Renaissance Gallery” 20x16 oil on masonite

“Renaissance Gallery” 20×16 oil on masonite

“The spark of inspiration for the MUSE collaboration with Rochester City Ballet came on a beautiful Sunday morning last summer while sitting on my front porch at 7 am with my partner Jim. We were talking about art and how much I had been enjoying working with local dancers as models in my paintings. It was Jim’s idea to ask Jamey Leveret, Artistic Director of RCB if there was any interest in working together and using the dancers as models.

I remember the feeling of a ‘zing’ running through me and knew I was supposed to do this. Jamey and I already knew each other and we were looking for a way to work together, I sent her an email that morning and she responded within five minuets with a resounding ‘yes!’ From that point I knew this needed to be big, big in the sense of not holding back and pushing the boundaries of my work by combining realism with abstract and sometimes within the same painting. I also knew I wanted to paint the dancers in Rochester’s amazing natural and architectural beauty.

I began to reach out to local institutions such as The George Eastman House, Memorial Art Gallery and City Hall as well important private homes like the Alcoa House in Brighton, the Senators Mansion in Churchville and the Boynton House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright so I could do photo shoots with the dancers to get the source material for the paintings. With each instance everyone was so excited and open to helping me pull this off which really speaks to the fact the art is important and Rochester is a city that wants to support it’s development.

I would be lying if I said that there were not times that were extremely stressful and challenging. During the nine month process of making this collection life had other ideas. After living in our 110 year old home on Dartmouth Street for 8 years and painstakingly restoring every inch of it we sold and moved to a home half the size in Corn Hill that required some major renovation itself. Anyone who has ever moved knows how stressful that can be. With selling, buying a new home and working on this collection at times I thought I wasn’t going to be able to do this. In the middle of it all I tore the tendon in my right arm and yes, that’s my painting arm. I wasn’t able to paint for 8 weeks and the thing I valued so much and formed so much of my identity from as an artist suddenly wasn’t there and not only was it physically difficult but emotionally as well. Fortunately, through a lot of physical therapy and a positive attitude I was back and working again with a deepened appreciation for my gift and an even greater willingness to continue.

I just did a count of the number of pieces in this collection and it reaches forty [bold inserted by MAG] in total with twenty realism pieces and twenty abstract and a few that cross the boundaries and live in both worlds. There were some very long days at the easel and during those countless hours I have come out of this feeling more evolved as a painter. I have been reminded once again of three main ingredients I have found to be essential traits of a successful artist, which are openness, willingness and fearlessness. Being open to new ideas and a willingness to carry them out and not letting fear stop me from seeking out the paths to seeing them become reality.”

Brian did mention that he is ‘sound byte’ challenged, but it is great to hear the full story behind the results. We can’t wait to see the exhibition.

Goodbye for now – Tooker on loan

'Supper' by TookerCurrently, our George Tooker, Supper (1963) is on loan and now on view at an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties offers a focused look at painting, sculpture, graphics, and photography from a decade defined by social protest and American race relations. Read a New York Times review of the exhibit, Battle Lines For Change by Holland Cotter.

“It’s hard to say goodbye to our favorites – staff and visitors do miss them – but we feel strongly the need to support other museums with thoughtful and responsible loans of our art.  MAG benefits as well; the scholarship that comes from these exhibitions and their accompanying catalogs enhances our understanding of the artist, the art, and the context in which it was created.   We’re also proud of our collection and want to share it with a wider audience.  At the moment, work from our collection is in exhibitions around the world, in France, Spain, Canada, Florida, Wisconsin, and New York City.”
Jessica Marten
Interim Chief Curator/Curator of American Art

Re-creating the “Path of Colors”

“I wasn’t sure if it would happen.” That’s how artist Jackie Ferrara describes the collaboration between herself and Jan Towsley, a weaver and textile designer from the Rochester, NY area. Ferrara designed Marking Crossways, the serpentine red and orange brick walkway that connects the front entrance of the Memorial Art Gallery to the plaza space at the corner of University Avenue and Goodman Street. Portions of the pathway feature patterns using red and dark brick that spells out “Memorial Art Gallery” and “University of Rochester” in Morse Code.

Jackie Ferrara's Morse Code

Jackie Ferrara’s Morse Code

The Morse Code, a subtle but very unique aspect of the design (see above lower right), was specifically chosen by Ferrara to be incorporated into the walkway. She had used Morse Code in a previous installation at Tuft’s University to honor a student who had committed suicide. Jackie felt that using the code was a way to memorialize the student without actually using his name – a way to create an abstract design that literally had meaning behind it.

When Towsley received the designs of the walkway from Ferrara, she recognized that incorporating the code details would be a difficult task. “The Morse Code had to be specifically placed” stated Towsley when I visited her studio during First Friday in Rochester. “If the code was not properly placed, the translation would be incorrect.” Towsley used a printed “cartoon” of the walkway design and then pinned the cartoon to the warp on her loom in order to guide her weaving to create of the one-of-a-kind scarves.

Jackie Ferrara cameo
Jackie Ferrara cameo

Another challenge Towsley faced was how to translate the mosaic squares or cameos that Ferrara designed in the MAG’s walkway into a textile design for the scarf. She decided to hand bead each one. Towsley was concerned that this might be difficult as she had no official training in beading. Each minutely detailed square took a minimum of two hours to complete.

Jan Towsley beaded detail

Jan Towsley beaded detail

A project that was proposed in the spring of 2013 has now come full circle. A total of 10 beautifully unique scarves are woven and detailed and for sale in the Memorial Art Gallery’s Store as well as online. Click here.

spice scarf

Spice Scarf by Jan Towsley


Jackie Ferrara has designed and built courtyards, terraces, and architectural structures since the early 1970s. Ferrara is one of several artists who emerged during the seventies by using the forms and materials usually associated with architecture in order to enrich the definition of sculpture and challenge the assumptions and conventions of the typical built environment. Ferrara’s complexly patterned paved areas, based on a grid system, transform bland outdoor plazas or indoor lobbies into animated spaces which help to enliven or accentuate their architectural context.”-via the Stuart Collection at UC San Diego. Watch a video on the creative process at MAG.

Jan Towsley has been working in weaving and textile design in the Rochester area for over 40 years. She earned a degree in weaving and textile design from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1970. Towsley has been working at her studio in the Anderson Art Building next to Village Gate since 1990.

Submitted by Gallery Store and marketing intern Jaclyn Bergin.

Black History Month Family Day

Black History Month Family Day

Reenah Golden and youth from the Avenue D Recreation Center

Excerpts of a blog submitted by:
Lisa A. Johnson, educator and poet

As you continue to partake in the spirit filled activities and social gatherings during the month of February, please join us here at the MAG for Black History Month Family Day as we chronicle the important milestones of persons from the African diaspora through art, music, dance and spoken word. This year’s theme “Sounds of Color” focuses on the rich and diverse culture and heritage of my people.

My family and I are proud to celebrate my father’s legacy of hard work and dedication. Willie Johnson Jr. is one of the first African American firefighters to integrate the Rochester Fire Department in the the 60s when segregation and isolation and discrimination was at its peak. After 39 years, my father finally decided to hang up his helmet, and pick up his hammer to help with the reconstruction of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina.

Willie Johnson Jr., Rochester Fire Department

Willie Johnson Jr., Rochester Fire Department ca. 1960

Another local person of prominence who changed the face of politics between 1961-65, is Constance Mitchell who served two terms on the Monroe County Board of Supervisors (currently known as the Monroe County Legislature). Mitchell was the first African American woman to be elected.

And so we owe this continued celebration of greatness to Rochester’s first African American woman Mayor Lovely Warren because “she is the dream and the hope of the slave.”

And now I leave you with this adage from the first African American president, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – President Barack Obama

Read the full blog: RochesterArts on the Democrat and Chronicle website. Click here.

New on view in the Asian gallery

We’ve completed our yearly rotation of light-sensitive works in the Asian gallery. There’s quite a variety this year, including hanging scrolls; a six-fold screen; Japanese prints, drawings, and katagami (stencils for dyeing fabric); Indian miniatures; and an Indonesian shadow puppet. We’ve also unrolled the contemporary Chinese handscroll Migrants of the Three Gorges Dam to show its sobering finale. Please stop by to see and enjoy these treasures from our permanent collection.

The Kitano Shrine

“The Kitano Shrine”

The Kitano Shrine
Watercolor and ink with gold leaf
Gift of the Xerox Corporation, 90.6

This screen shows the Kitano shrine, which had been a popular destination for religious pilgrims in Japan from the earliest medieval times. In the second panel from the right, an inscription on the plaque at the gate identifies the shrine. The setting shows a large crowd of people drawn from all levels of Japanese society pouring into the shrine precinct on a festival day. While richly dressed aristocrats and their retinues approach the shrine, other visitors engage in pastimes such as archery and dancing.

Screens like this were produced in Japan almost from the beginning of her history. They became an indispensable element of domestic architecture and of Japanese life, serving as both utilitarian room dividers and as treasured works of art.

[Gallery label text, 2006]

Shadow Puppet (Wayang Kulit)

“Wayang Kulit” (Shadow Puppet)

Wayang Kulit
Javanese Recreational Artifact
Carved and colored buffalo hide with carved horn handles
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Forman, 37.18.1

Bird of the Quail Family on One Foot Japanese, 1700s

“Bird of the Quail Family on One Foot”

Bird of the Quail Family on One Foot
Japanese, 18th Century
Ink, watercolor, and gouache on paper
Estates of Maurice R. and Maxine B. Forman, 96.72
Many thanks for a successful installation go to Andy Hofer, Mike Allison, and Barry Schieven of the Facilities Department, and our preparator Carol Acquilano, registrar Monica Simpson, research assistant Kerry Schauber, and curatorial intern Courtney Lippa.

MAG as Muse

Recently, Rochester City Ballet was once again called upon to share their beauty at the Memorial Art Gallery. They have joined us in the past for our Centennial Birthday Party and also during the first Fringe Festival in Rochester. It is always awe-inspiring to see the magic that dance, music and art creates when viewed as a whole.

Photo by Brandon Vick

Photo by Brandon Vick

This particular project at MAG completed a series of Rochester location shots, produced for a unique, exciting collaboration, showcasing Rochester City Ballet dancers in original oil paintings by Brian O’Neill. Many of these pieces will highlight Rochester’s rich and historical architectural landmarks with RCB dancers posed in settings such as the Memorial Art Gallery, The George Eastman House and the marble atrium of Rochester’s City Hall while others will highlight Rochester’s stunning natural beauty with scenes of Lake Ontario, Highland Park, High Falls and Corbett’s Glenn.

The series of paintings will be showcased at The Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester for a one-month exhibition with an opening reception on 4-4-14. The Brian O’Neill Studio will be donating 10% of the total show proceeds and 100% from the sale from one special piece to benefit Rochester City Ballet.

To add another layer of excitement the entire process of making this collection is being filmed by Rochester based film maker Brian Pienkoski. Click on this link to watch the trailer for the MUSE film, a work in progress.

Here are some shots from the morning of art/film/photography/grace. Enjoy:

slow motion dance

keeping a watchful eye from the wings

a behind the scenes shot - Rochester City Ballet

a behind the scenes shot

Degas-style groupings

the photographer called for Degas-style groupings

reviewing the shots

a review of images captured

Portraits, Patterns, and Projects: An Unforgettable Adult Student Show

Currently on view in the Lucy Burne Gallery is the Creative Workshop’s Winter Adult Student Show: Portraits, Patterns and Projects. Featuring artists who’ve attended various Creative Workshop classes, the show represents portraits inspired by individuals, repeated elements of patterning, as well as collaborative/series based works. With a multitude of mediums ranging from painting (watercolor, oil, acrylic), to drawing (pencil, charcoal), to 3D works (clay, aluminum, stoneware), Portraits, Patterns and Projects presents a true representation of the variety of classes offered at the Creative Workshop.

For some artists, this is their first time exhibiting in the Lucy Burne Gallery. For example, Beginning Drawing was an introductory class to artists Helen Ackert’s Child with Cherries, Jennifer Phillip’s, Cape Cod Lighthouse and Bruce McCannon’s, Leonardo Da Vinci Study. Their pencil drawings reflect incredible understanding of line quality and beautiful observational drawings emerging from introductory classes at the Creative Workshop.

pencil drawings - Beginning Drawing

L to R: Helen Ackert, Jennifer Phillip and Bruce McCannon

Cynthia Howell, also new to exhibiting at the Lucy Burne Gallery, contributed two striking watercolor paintings, Ginko and Apples, which can be seen together on the left wall upon entry to the gallery. Created in a Beginning Watercolor class taught by g.a. sheller, Cynthia uses sensitive color choices and a delicate brushwork that makes these paintings lovely.


Cynthia Howell, “Ginko” and “Apples”

Along with the new artists exhibiting in Portraits, Patterns and Projects are returning artists who’ve taken many classes at the Creative Workshop. Maria Basil, a returning student of the workshop exhibits Pattern: Self-Portraits (below), created in Acrylic Painting. This work displays an intimate and creative self-portrait of the artist through cohesive pattern, intense color, and expressive paint application. The separate canvases represent Maria’s creative interests, family history, enjoyed spaces, and personal experiences. Elements of printmaking, black and white photography, and jewelry making can be seen in the left canvases, showing Maria’s interest in artistic outlets supported by classes offered at the Creative Workshop.

Maria Basil, a returning student of the workshop exhibits Pattern: Self-Portraits

Maria Basil, “Pattern: Self-Portraits”

With the wide variety of works being shown in this Adult show, common themes were interestingly emerging. For example, Paul Dodd’s Investment Banker, Violet Paolucci’s clay vessel and Pauline Johnson Braun’s Dudley can be seen exhibited together in the Lucy Burne Gallery. When hanging the show, these striking pieces complimented one another by exemplifying mastery of the different mediums.

Paul Dodd’s Investment Banker, Violet Paolucci’s bisque clay vessel and Pauline Johnson Braun’s Dudley

Paul Dodd’s “Investment Banker”, Violet Paolucci’s “clay vessel” and Pauline Johnson Braun’s “Dudley”

These are just a few of the many works currently displayed at the Lucy Burne Gallery. The show is on view until February 19th and will be followed by the Winter Children’s show. We hope you’ll come by to enjoy the show and maybe even look into a class for yourself!

Burne Gallery Hours:
Monday – Thursday  9:00 am – 9:30 pm
Friday + Saturday  9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Submitted by Casey Cardillo
Winter Creative Workshop Intern