Tag Archives: M & T Bank Clothesline Festival

A PLACE IN THE SUN?

INSIDE PERSPECTIVES ON THE 2015 CLOTHESLINE FESTIVAL

By Christine G. Adamo

At 8:47 am on Sat., Sept. 12, a gentle rain tapped out what mimicked – for me – finger strokes on a keyboard. I shifted under the covers and smiled until I realized that, for the 400-plus artists from across N.Y. state who’d prepped for their first of a two-day showing at the 2015 M&T Bank Clothesline Festival, it might sound more like money trickling down a nearby sewer drain.

With coverage of the event pre-scheduled, I’d spent some time doing prep work of my own. I knew where I’d park. I knew where I’d park if my first option fell through. I knew what I’d wear: street-worthy shoes, merciful slacks, a cotton top that encouraged airflow and a bolero-style shrug – in case the weather was less than favorable, meaning hot and humid.

On Day One, there was no muscling of the car into a questionable parking spot. (I snagged one immediately.) Nor was clothing with built-in ventilation a necessity, seeing as the heavens stirred up something closer to cool and crisp. What did need to be added to the mix were a pair of waterproof boots, an umbrella and a cap with a brim large enough to keep my eyeglasses dry.

Not only was it raining; it was pouring. The deluge didn’t let up until well after closing time. Yet, billed enthusiastically by Memorial Art Gallery as a “Rain or shine!” event, Clothesline kept true to its promise. Upon entering the festival at University Avenue and Goodman Street, it was clear that so had its participating artists – and dozens of content-to-be-rain-drenched attendees.

After 59 years, Clothesline remains one of Rochester’s largest and longest-running fine art and crafts festivals. Its commitment to the community, as outlined above, is obvious. Entertainers, unaffected by the rain, kept playing. Food vendors, with slightly better shelter, stood fast. Artists, who anyone could easily forgive for closing up shop to preserve their original works, persisted.

What follows is an introduction to three such artists and insight into their individual perspectives on the Clothesline experience as either a newcomer, long-time participant or seasoned veteran. You’ll also find references to other, noteworthy artists who fall within those same categories.

The Newcomer – Dave Pollot, Oil-on-Thrift Artist (Booth 607/608)

Dave, who first showed at Clothesline in 2013, is a self-described “software engineer who spends his nights with a beer in one hand and paintbrush in the other, bringing new life to old thrift art.” He maintains a virtual gallery at Instagram.com/DavePollotArt and a dedicated artist website at DavePollot.com.

Photography by Stephen S Reardon - Dave Pollott

Photography by Stephen S Reardon – Dave Pollot

AHP: How long have you been a working artist?
Dave Pollot: I still keep my day job writing software, but my fiancée was able to quit her full-time job to focus on the business side of the art (I create and has) been doing this for two years now.
AHP: What is your medium of choice and what drew you to it?
DP: Oil on thrift (allows) me to have a ton of fun while keeping me challenged. Each new piece is different, so it never feels repetitive.
AHP: What year did you begin participating in Clothesline and why?
DP: 2013. It was always my favorite Rochester festival. The artists are incredible and it’s where I bought my very first piece of original art.
AHP: If Clothesline helps you sustain a living, as a working artist, how?
DP: We always have a great time with Clothesline and – historically – it’s always one of our best shows.
AHP: Do you modify your process or product to create art for Clothesline? If so, how?
DP: Not at all!
AHP: What are the biggest challenges a Clothesline exhibitor faces? What are the greatest rewards?
DP: The weather is definitely the biggest challenge, as we saw this year. The weather determines the crowd – and the crowd determines the show. That said, the attendees are some of the most enthusiastic, resilient and fun we’ve seen. That’s incredibly rewarding.


Other, noteworthy newcomers to Clothesline include:

KANDACE LOCKWOOD, Potter

CHRIS GOODENBURY, Photographer – Clothesline exhibitor since 2014. Online at Facebook.com/CMGoodenburyPhotography.

MICHAEL P. SLATTERY, Fine Artist (Painting) – At Slattery Art, painting outside the lines is considered a fine art. “This (was) my first year at Clothesline,” Michael told Art House Press, “(where) I chose it to launch the Eve series. I work out of my 2,000 sq. ft. barn in Greece. The first floor with wood stove is my winter studio and (the) top floor houses my studio and library.” Slattery also recently showed on Artist Row at Rochester’s Public Market.


The Long-Timer
Laura Wilder, Artist (Booth 66/67)

Laura has exhibited at Clothesline for just under 20 years. She is a Roycroft Renaissance Master Artisan (Printmaking), a three-time (the maximum allowed) Clothesline Merit Award winner and a blue-ribbon recipient at this year’s Corn Hill Arts Festival.

Photography by Stephen S Reardon - Laura Wilder

Photography by Stephen S Reardon – Laura Wilder

AHP: How long have you been a working artist?
Laura Wilder: Thirty-three years. I started as a commercial artist, burned out after several years and then started my own business about 20 years ago.
AHP: What is your medium of choice and what drew you to it?
LW: Depends on the day. I’m mostly known for my block prints. I was drawn to that medium because I love the bold, stylized look of posters and prints from the early 1900s. I discovered William Nicholson’s prints and knew I had to try it, but block printing is so difficult that occasionally I have to take a break and do oil painting, which – compared to printmaking – is wonderfully direct. At the moment, oils are my medium of choice. In a couple months, it’ll probably be block printing again.
AHP: What year did you begin participating in Clothesline and why?
LW: I think 1997. I had recently become a Roycroft Renaissance printmaker and started my own business. I was looking to market my work. Clothesline and the Roycroft festivals were the best shows I knew of.
AHP: If Clothesline helps you sustain a living as a working artist, how?
LW: The folks who attend Clothesline have been absolutely wonderful to me. We artists worry about saturating a market by appearing year after year but, as I approach 20 consecutive years at this show, my sales and the wonderful feedback I get from collectors don’t seem to dwindle.
Many of them are repeat buyers. There are so many dedicated attendees that I have a successful show even in lousy weather – like we just had! I’m very grateful. Also, many of those folks now subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter, which has special offers that lead to website sales.

AHP: Do you modify your process or product to create art for Clothesline? If so, how?
LW: Every year I make sure to create one new print that shows a Rochester area landmark – with the Clothesline attendees in mind. These locally-themed prints are hugely popular. I also make sure to have something for all budgets (from $2.50 to $2,150 this year).
AHP: What are the biggest challenges a Clothesline exhibitor faces? What are the greatest rewards?
LW: I can only speak for myself here, but it isn’t finding lots of great customers; it’s dealing with weather. (To be sellable,) prints can’t get wet. And, with ever-increasing erratic weather, outdoor shows look more and more risky. Even a decent tent will eventually leak in relentless rain. A few years ago at least one Clothesline tent with concrete weights was actually airborne in a sudden gust of wind. So, we dropped a lot of money on a very good, waterproof tent this year. My husband/biz partner, Bob, made six 50-lb. tent weights and our prints stayed dry. The greatest reward is being able to meet so many of my collectors, in person, and hear from them how my art has made them (or a loved one) happy!

Photography by Stephen S. Reardon - Happy customer

Photography by Stephen S. Reardon – Happy customer


Other, long-time Clothesline participants you should know about:

YENFEN HUANG, Painter (Chinese-style)

REBECCA BARRY-KENT, Studio Artist – Rebecca, who’s represented by Gallery 54 in Skaneateles, began participating in Clothesline in 2001. “I started creating art dolls three years ago,” she explained, “using some repurposed copper and other bits and pieces (I’d collected) for years.” Being a closeted hoarder pays off; her whimsical dolls are entertaining. “It’s really cool when I see a smile (on) someone’s face,” she added, “and know it’s one of my pieces that put it there!”

MICHELLE DaRIN, Sculptor, Jeweler, etc. – I’m a “creator of anything my mind can think up,” noted Michelle, who began showing at Clothesline in 2003 and maintains a dedicated artist website at MichelleDaRinJewelry.com.

 

The Seasoned Veteran – Stephen Merritt, Potter (Booth 40)

Photography by Stephen S Reardon - Stephen Merritt

Photography by Stephen S Reardon – Stephen Merritt

This artist, who’s more familiarly known as simply “Steve,” offers up glimpses of his elegant work and intriguing backstory at MerrittVessel.com. Most artists, he noted, quickly put the lessons they learn and ideas they generate at Clothestline to work. They look ahead to their next show – any show – with an immediate sense of how they can make it better.

He’s looking ahead to his own showing, in early December, at the Geisel Gallery in Bausch + Lomb’s Legacy Tower in downtown Rochester. There he’ll share exhibition space with his photographer son, Jonathan, who didn’t show at Clothesline due to inclement weather. Another show worth looking into, he says, is the 15th Annual Fine Craft Show & Sale at MAG on November 7 and 8.

“(It) features the works of great artists from across the country,” he explained, “who people from Rochester don’t normally get to see. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s really one of Rochester’s gems, I think, and not as widely known as it should be.”

Steve’s a Rochester gem in his own right. Read on to find out why.

AHP: How long have you been a working artist?
Stephen Merritt: I studied in Japan in the early ’70s and was there for two-and-a-half years. I returned to Rochester, my hometown, in 1972. That’s when I started (my career as) a working artist.
AHP: What is your medium of choice and what drew you to it?
SM: For me, of course, the medium is clay. Over the years I’ve worked in a variety of different clays. For the past 20 or so years, I’ve worked almost exclusively in porcelain and terra cotta.
AHP: What year did you begin participating in Clothesline and why?
SM: In 1972, as an emerging potter. Clothesline’s association with (MAG) has always given the show a cache that a lot of other craft shows lack. For as long as I’ve been doing the show, it’s a place where artists of all stripes – Rochester-area artists and others – come together and have a good time interacting with each other and their customers, while at the same time lending support to the Gallery’s mission. There’s a purpose (to it that goes) above and beyond just trying to sell your own work.
AHP: If Clothesline helps you sustain a living, as a working artist, how?
SM: This year notwithstanding, given the weather and its effect on the crowd, most artists can depend on the Clothesline as an effective way to show new work, make sales, cover expenses and, perhaps, make a little profit on the side.
AHP: Do you modify your process or product to create art for Clothesline? If so, how?
SM: I don’t. I know many artists will tailor their display to the nature of the crowd. My experience is that Clothesline draws such a diverse audience that I choose to present my work as I would in any other venue.
AHP: What are the biggest challenges a Clothesline exhibitor faces? What are the greatest rewards?
SM: Any art show, especially an outdoor art show, involves a lot of effort – both physical and emotional. It’s always a challenge for artists to feel completely satisfied with the presentation no matter how long it’s been planned and how well it’s been executed. (I) should mention the basic challenge of exposing yourself to the elements, which underlies all the great hopes and plans every artist lays out for the show: It can all go south in a hurry, when Mother Nature decides to have her way with us. The greatest rewards are, of course, coming through the show with success on the financial side and also that the work you have shown is admired and appreciated by (attendees). We don’t expect everyone to make a purchase, as nice as that would be. Everyone can’t afford a piece, but they all appreciate the effort that goes into the work that’s being show.


Other seasoned Clothesline veterans worth researching:

PATRICIA WILDER, Photographer

DICK KANE, Watercolorist – MAG Creative Workshop faculty member

RICHARD AERNI, Potter – Online at RichardAerni.com

 

Photography by Stephen S Reardon - 2015 M & T Bank Clothesline Festival at the Memorial Art Gallery

Photography by Stephen S Reardon – 2015 M & T Bank Clothesline Festival at the Memorial Art Gallery

In the end? The artists we’ve featured – and mentioned – here come together, en masse, to set up pop-up stores, shops and galleries. Crowds come from all corners of Western New York (and beyond) to view their work, shop and take joy in interacting with them year after year. The result? Is an effort that helps these individuals and others like them establish and sustain long-term careers.

But what of the festival itself? In 1956, MAG explains, the first Clothesline Festival truly did feature artwork and paintings hung from clotheslines, swaying in the breeze. At the time, a handful of local artists participated, but nearly 60 years later the festival has grown and morphed into the gallery’s largest fundraising event.

Photography by Stephen S Reardon

Photography by Stephen S Reardon

Daylong entertainment, food vendors and free family art activities, as well as museum entry (included with the $5 admission price), makes it a memorable weekend in which the work of a diverse cast of artists is available for viewing.

Clothesline has garnered five City “Best of Rochester” reader awards and is said to draw serious shoppers like nobody’s business – rain, shine or otherwise.

Learn more at MAG.Rochester.edu.