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Summer of Opportunity

It all begins with a request. Sometimes it may take a few months to get everything in place, but often all one has to do is ask. In fact, as it turns out, opportunity was one of the running themes of the afternoon – always stay open to to possibilities of an opportunity.

Debora speaks to the group  in the B&L Parlor

Debora speaks to the group in the B&L Parlor

In February, we received a note from the Summer of Opportunity program at Ibero American Action League. This summer, their focus is on STEM and the arts. The program provides Rochester area youth with work readiness skills, leadership development skills, community awareness and a creative outlet to voice one’s skills while working with local artists. One of the goals by the end of the summer is to design and create a vibrant mural in the Northeast quadrant of the City. They are working on a limited budget, so Debora McDell-Hernandez, Coordinator of Community Programs and Outreach here at the MAG, put together an afternoon that included a free tour of our collection, an impromptu class as well as hearing from a few of the staff about working in a museum.

Four of our Docents, Cynthia Goldstein, Marguerite Quinn, Annette Kelly, and Isabel Kaplan, introduced the group to MAG’s art collection and the current exhibition on view – the 6th Rochester Biennial. One of the adult counselors mentioned that he graduated from the neighboring School Of The Arts in 2004 and was a past recipient of a Creative Workshop scholarship (available thanks to the Gallery Council at MAG. Remember what we said about being open to opportunity?) He went onto to earn a B.A. in art history. He wanted to know how to become a Docent and Debora explained that we probably would not be recruiting our next class very soon. Our Docents are one of our most important support systems around here.

Another program that Debora provided was a drawing activity in the Creative Workshop led by artist and Curriculum Director Rachael Baldanza. Each was asked to bring a sketch note pad and pencil, and keep an open mind. It was a group of 24 students and 7 adult counselors. They all had their sketch paper or pads.

drawing in the Sculpture Park

Drawing in the Sculpture Park


Gathering near Mary Taylor’s “Filly”


Entrance to the Creative Workshop as an impromptu classroom.

Following the drawing class, the group heard from Carol Acquilano who is a Preparator, a person who prepares museum displays, as well as someone from the Public Relations office. They both spoke a bit about the circuitous route that brought them to a career at an art museum. Yet another example of being open to opportunities.

Only a handful of the students had visited MAG in the past, so everything was new to the majority of the students and they enjoyed the tours. As a bonus, Debora offered free return visit passes.

Mark your calendar for later in the summer to check out the student’s work on the mural near Ibero American Action League on 214 Clifford Avenue and the Family Services Office on 218 Clifford Avenue.

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