Tag Archives: Urban Artists

ART HOUSE PRESS MAGAZINE FLEW OFF THE SHELVES!

127 Pages, 30 Artist Articles, 6 Writers, 3 Photographers… ALL ROCHESTER!

Art House Press Magazine met with a booming response!! All of the magazines flew off the shelves! We are now working on the second issue!!! Stay tuned!

Distributed to:

Barnes & Nobles Pittsford Plaza, Parkleigh, Cornell’s Jewelers, Java’s, Arena’s, Spot Coffee, Pour Coffee, Memorial Art Gallery Gift Shop, Starry Nites Cafe, Makers Gallery & Studio, Scratch Bakeshop, Rochester Brainery, Axom Gallery, Joe Bean Coffee, Upper Crust Cakery//Glen Edith Coffee Roasters, RoCo, Root31, Scott Miller, Gallery Salon, Village Bakery, West Elm, Del Monte Spa & MORE COMING!

JASON BARBER AND THE FADED PAST

BY HOLLY JENNINGS

Jason Barber- a photographer and core team member of Rochester’s Wall\Therapy– describes his experience watching a mural go up in the city:

“While I was watching the mural being painted, all of these people kept stopping by to watch. A drug dealer, a couple from Pittsford riding their bicycles along the canal, a group of 12-year- olds, and a local mechanic were just some of the people who stopped to stare up at the artist working.”

An active member of the art community and also a devout Christian, Jason’s response to the motley crowd that gathered around the mural contains a spiritual component.

Photography by Stephen S. Reardon - Jason Barber

Photography by Stephen S. Reardon – Jason Barber

“One mural pulled all of those different types of people to the same spot. I can’t help but think of the church, and the fact that any pastor would want that kind of congregation.”

As a Christian, Jason uses art as a way to minister to the people within the inner city, and he is very active within Rochester’s art world; in addition to volunteering with Wall\Therapy, he has served as a volunteer and Vision Collective Board Member at The Yards Art Collective, has worked as an Art Day School teacher’s assistant at the Memorial Art Gallery, and has served as a Young Millennials Board member to assist the MAG in connecting with a new generation of art lovers.

Jason graduated with a BA in Art History from SUNY Purchase College and spent two years as an assistant curator at the the Oxford Gallery here in Rochester. He was volunteering with Wall\Therapy when asked to be a member of its core team. As a newly-appointed core member, Jason does a little bit of everything, including social media, scouting potential locations for murals, searching for funding streams, doing raffles, selling merchandise, and acting as an artist’s assistant.

Wall\Therapy’s purpose is to inspire and to bring people together, and in Jason Barber’s case, the project has succeeded twice over. Jason’s involvement in Wall\Therapy combines two of the things he is most passionate about: his love of the arts and his love of the city of Rochester.

Jason’s Rochester roots run deep. His relatives have resided within the Maplewood area of Rochester since the 1920s; Jason grew up on Avenue D. His uncle and grandfather owned the Orange Julius in Midtown Plaza, and his mother worked helping others within the Department of Social Services.

“Downtown is my reality. Kodak Park, bowling alleys, smokestacks and strip malls are a part of my everyday existence.” And though Jason is relatively young, he has seen Rochester change a great deal over the years. Houses that friends grew up in sit abandoned.

Photo Provided - Backyards: Overcome By Nature

Photo Provided – Backyards: Overcome By Nature

Buildings in Kodak Park have tumbled. Recent census reports have deemed Rochester one of the most segregated cities in the nation. In spite of these bleak realities, Jason remains optimistic about the future of the city he loves, especially in regards to Rochester’s burgeoning art community.

“This is a strong and growing community of great artists, and it gets bigger and bigger every year. There are more and more skilled artists, and they’re really effecting change in the city. We’re seeing art everywhere now – there are other mural movements going on. Art on buildings. Local artists doing signs for coffee shops. Marty’s had Rochester artists do their walls for them. There’s a huge transition happening in the arts, and everybody’s connected. It’s a big giant community of distinct groups working together to help one another grow.”

Wall\Therapy is a great example of Rochester art lovers coming together to effect change within the city. During one incredible week, artists from Rochester and across the country descend upon the city and turn the outside walls of office buildings, garages, and shops into large-scale canvases for expansive murals. Over the past five years, the murals have varied in style and theme. Together they have turned neighborhoods into communal art galleries. A majority of the murals are in underprivileged areas, and Jason believes recent economic hardships have contributed to the advent of particular movements within the art world in Rochester and other places.

“Art collectives and mural movements are all over the place, and they are all related to the hard times we’ve had since 2008. Whenever there is a time of struggle, art flourishes. It’s historically proven.” (Case in point: graffiti art has proliferated in the city of Athens in Greece over the past five years. Artists use their paintings as political commentary, and to express sadness over the demise of Greece’s economy.)

Jason is an artist himself. He uses photography to pay homage to the city he loves. Though he dabbled in photography a bit in high school and college, it wasn’t until a few years ago that Jason started taking cell phone snapshots of the sights he viewed each day living and working in the city. He began posting his images on Instagram, most of which were shot a mere block or two away from popular High Falls, in impoverished neighborhoods most people don’t want to step one foot in.

Photo Provided - Backyards: Vacant Lots

Photo Provided – Backyards: Vacant Lots

As his Instagram following began to grow, Jason began to focus on using his photography as a way to shine some light on the city’s marginalized neighborhoods, though Jason does not actually refer to his work as photography.

“I don’t see myself as a photographer, and I don’t see my shots as photography. I see myself as an artist and as someone of deep faith who is capturing the world as he sees it in the most authentic way possible. I try to be authentic but compassionate to these neighborhoods.”

Although Jason’s photographs are part nostalgia for the city that was, they mainly serve as a witness for the way things are now. So many of his Instagram shots are of abandoned places: overgrown driveways, roofs covered in moss, broken windows, a mural of High Falls on the side of a vacant home. An Instagram comment beneath a photograph of mounds of dirty slush in front of stark city buildings under a winter blue sky reads “You make it look so pretty!” And he does. He finds beauty in the city’s detritus. These are the forgotten neighborhoods.

One of Jason’s favorite shots is of Rochester’s iconic Kodak Tower, its pinnacle shrouded behind clouds. On Instagram, it is labeled “Faded Past.”

Photo Provided - Faded Past: Kodak Building

Photo Provided – Faded Past: Kodak Building

Jason reflects on how people might observe Rochester from the top of one its skyscrapers: the Genesee River meandering through the architecturally stunning University of Rochester, the expansive bridges, the bright green of the grass in the baseball stadium, the sparkling lake on the distant horizon. But Jason sees individual neighborhoods, each one distinct from the next, most of them overlooked by those who view Rochester as a pretty view from the top.

When Jason describes those involved in Wall\Therapy, he says that these are people who are “a lot more aware of the issue within our city. They put murals into neighborhoods that are marginalized.

Photo Provided - Backyards Series

Photo Provided – Backyards Series

They see the segregation and hang out with people in those neighborhoods, and are actually involved in the inner city community.” The arts have an uncanny way of bringing people from all walks of life together, and of making people see things from a different perspective. Jason Barber’s photographs represent his own inner struggle with what the city has become, and they compel the rest of us to see Rochester the way he sees it: beautiful, but broken.

Wall\Therapy will soon come to an end, but planning for next year’s event starts soon. Jason says that if you want to get involved in Rochester’s exciting and growing art community, volunteering to help out with Wall\Therapy is a great place to start.  

Jason’s Instagram feed can be found here.

THE HUNGERFORD

BY JASON CAMPBELL

I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone in the Rochester area having an interest in the arts who has not heard of the Hungerford Building. That doesn’t mean everyone would know where to find it or what actually happens there, but it seems as though Hungerford is synonymous with art. The Hungerford website describes itself as “a community of artists, craftspeople, and businesses,” and it truly is an eclectic mix of each. The building itself started as an industrial plant producing flavored syrups, most notably the flavoring for A&W Root Beer (the Hungerford Smith brand still exists as a product line for ConAgra Foodservice). The Hungerford is located on East Main St where it intersects that random jag of Goodman St., just down the road from the Public Market. It’s a large brick structure standing four stories high that screams 100-year-old industry. Like many early industrial spaces in Rochester it has been retrofitted and now houses many studios, galleries, businesses, and even some apartments.

Iconic portraits for the commercial and editorial industry by Stephen S Reardon Rochester, NY - The Hungerford

Iconic portraits for the commercial and editorial industry by Stephen S Reardon Rochester, NY – The Hungerford

On the first Friday of each month many of the studios and galleries are open to the public. It is an ideal way to discover new artists and meet an array of interesting people. If you’re into any particular medium, chances are you can find it here. The fact that so many artisans can coexist under one roof is amazingAs soon as you walk through the doors you’re instantly hit with a sensory smorgasbord with sounds and smells coming at you from all directions. There’s music blasting from …where? Not sure yet? Is it the studio with all the Christmas lights announcing that yes, they are indeed open tonight? Or, is it from the studio where most of its goods are filling the hallway? Some doors are closed and the spaces are dormant. Other studios have a bit of the college dorm vibe, where you’re welcome to enter as long you already know everyone inside. But, somehow, all these approaches work together and everyone manages to do their own thing. Creative energy is definitely contagious at The Hungerford and is here in abundance. Whether the creative spirit is openly shared with neighboring artisans or wafting under closed doors, it manifests itself in numerous types of arts and crafts. A list of occupants can be found on the Hungerford website: http://www.thehungerford.com

Photography by Stephen S Reardon - The Hungerford

Photography by Stephen S Reardon – The Hungerford

Creating art is as intimate an endeavor as there is; artists literally put a part of themselves on display for others to judge. Typically, such judgement occurs in a gallery, designed to isolate the work from the artist, thereby allowing the art to be viewed sans context or clues about how or why it was made. However, in the open studio environment, art and creator are a singular entity. The entire space lends insight into the personality of the artists and how they create their art. Art making is about process – technique and strategy, and the implementation of each. If art were solely about product, it would be mass produced in a factory somewhere. Not many care how mass produced goods are made, they’re everywhere. True art is made in limited quantity, and often a piece is one of a kind. This also applies to the artists themselves – many of whom are one of a kind in terms of their personalities. I’ve worked with the public in a retail setting for many years now and meeting new people is never boring. Especially art people. Creative minds work in creative ways. They tend to dress differently, talk differently, and act differently. Some creative people love to talk about anything and everything and share way more than you’d ever really want to know from a stranger in an art studio. Others guard information like they were a breathing vault, from which no insight shall escape. All details about their process are under strict need-to-know orders, and no one needs to know. But herein lies the beauty of the Hungerford as an art community: all of these artisans work, and sometimes live, next to each other.

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Variety also applies to the people visiting the open studios. All ages, races, and sexes were out in droves to walk the halls and stop in wherever they desired. Some people were visiting friends and some were making new friends. Unfortunately for the artists, not everyone was there to purchase goods. Many people, myself included, were there to experience the energy and atmosphere of this art and craft community. Personally, I always preferred to draw or paint by myself, wholly absorbed in my own separate world. During class it always felt like I was mostly going through the motions because there were distractions everywhere. Some work got done, but the volume paled in comparison to my output when I was alone. Here in the Hungerford it seems as though many of the occupants thrive on the group dynamic. Seeing it in person it makes sense to me now. I think creative people tend to feel isolated from most of the world because they are a little different. To find like minded people right next door can be invigorating and that energy can drive their output to new heights. The chance to be social and get to know other artists is one of the main appeals of a space like the Hungerford. For some of the folks here art is their life, their purpose, their source of income. For others it’s a hobby or an escape from their normal, everyday lives, where they can fulfill that creative urge that their friends or family don’t quite understand.

Again, art is a process. It’s about how art is made, the concept and the steps taken to actually try to recreate that image in your head and transfer it into something real. Something you can see, and feel, and smell, something of weight and value. Think of the old saying that goes something like, “the journey is more important than the destination.” The Hungerford serves as both part of the art making journey and a destination.