Creative class fuels growth through collaborative spaces

06:52 AM, Feb 03, 2013

Left, The Yards celebrated its one-year anniversary with a party called Fall Into the Yards, featuring dancer Erika Ruegemer from One Dance Co. (Hannah Betts Photography)/

Written By Leah Stacy

Other collectives

Here are some other Rochester arts collectives:
Rochester Brainery: This Village Gate newbie will open on March 1, thanks in part to a recent Indiegogo campaign that raised more than $3,200. Founders Danielle Raymo and Stephanie Rankin hope to provide a place for local experts to share their professional skills and experiential knowledge via affordable classes for the community. Class topics include how to brew kombucha (a fermented beverage), how to operate a DSLR camera, the history of flowers and more. The space will also be available for events.

The Hungerford Building: The four-story, rambling warehouse is home to a balloon artist, several galleries, quilters and a comedy improv troupe — just to name a few tenants — who open their individual spaces each First Friday. There’s a full-fledged black box theater on the second floor, along with places for guest artists to rent studios and display their work. Hours for each studio vary, as they are workspaces during the week.

Anderson Arts Building: Smartly placed in the center of Rochester’s Neighborhood of the Arts is the Anderson Alley Artists community, which occupies the second, third and fourth floors of the towering Anderson Arts Building. In addition to hosting two annual open studios each year, more than a dozen artists open their doors for First Fridays and the self-coined “2nd Saturdays” each month. Collectors and commissions are welcome, as are folks looking for simple gift items.

Genesee Center for the Arts and Education: Staying true to their mission, “art for all people,” the staff at GCAE strives to populate their community classes with topics that will attract a range of ages, interests and pocketbooks. The pillars of the center are printing and bookmaking, the community darkroom and pottery, all featuring popular class sessions. The calendar changes seasonally, as some sessions require outdoor field trips. Community pottery and photography are often exhibited, and there’s even a pottery artist-in-residence program.


Scan this QR code or go to to see a video on new arts and performance spaces.

From Spencerport to Farmington, Rochester artisans are creating or expanding pop-up communities for gallery space, performance and education.

Established spaces such as Anderson Alley and the Hungerford Building are attracting new artists and more formally marketing themselves together.

Artists who used to be in those buildings are moving to new loft spaces downtown, perhaps a move toward future branding of some of those buildings.

Still others are starting out with a well-established mission for their arts and performance spaces.

Lea Rizzo of Canandaigua, co-founder of The Yards Collaborative Arts Space in Union Square, believes the arts can bring life to Rochester’s underdeveloped neighborhoods.

When we got this space, I thought in 10 years from now, we’re gonna see this neighborhood change into the space,” she says. “Not saying our energy is going to ooze out of our windows, but, I think it will.”

The creative class in Rochester is investing in revitalizing some of the older buildings in the Neighborhood of the Arts, the Rochester Public Market area and the suburbs.

A new group is redeveloping space in Village Gate Square to become The Brainery, a hybrid that will offer how-to courses, performance space and event space.

The Yards

I think there’s going to be this thing that happens,” says Rizzo, co-founder of the space with Sarah Rutherford. “I hope it starts with us.”

Just beyond the Public Market pavilions is a building. During the day, a branch of local stalwart Java’s Coffee provides busy market-hoppers with a daily jolt of caffeine. At night, Cure takes over in speakeasy style with its custom cocktail and charcuterie.

Above Cure is The Yards, a pulsating community of innovators who opened up shop in November 2011.

Two sets of staircases lead to the third floor where Rizzo and Rutherford transformed a warehouse-like space — once full of cobwebs, dust and broken fixtures — into a rustic wonderland.

We wanted people to have a space to work in,” Rutherford says. “We had this vision, and we know how important it’s been for us to have workspace in the past.”

Fittingly, it began with food.

We finished the remodeling and said, ‘Oh, now what are we gonna do here?’,” says Rizzo, who also works as a tattoo artist. “Then we decided, let’s have a dinner party.”

Since that start, the red-headed duo has hosted everything from midnight dance parties and craft bazaars to slam poetry competitions and long-term mixed media exhibits in the 1,000 square feet of remodeled workshop and gallery space.

I love that we bring in all these different elements,” Rutherford says. “We’re transforming this space in ways we never thought possible.”

The Yards last year raised $7,000 through an Indiegogo campaign. More than $3,500 came in during the last day of the campaign.

The Yards is not limiting its arts outreach to the Public Market. Rizzo and Rutherford recently completed a 28-wall, seven-story mural in a Highland Hospital stairway.

In addition to The Yards and their own personal work, the women are also part of Sweet Meat Co., an art collective “committed to pure creative awesomeness,” composed of artists including Erich S. Lehman, owner of 1975 gallery at 89 Charlotte St.

We have this vision,” Rutherford says of how the women operate. “Now, who wants to play?”

280 N. Union St.;

Up next: “Boys Vs. Girls,” a friendly competition between 15 female and 15 male artists. Team members ranging from painters to jewelry designers must construct their exhibition “entries” using 30 percent cardboard. The exhibit, which will be on display through March 2, will open with a joint reception from 6 to 10 p.m. with the boys at 1975, and the girls at The Yards. One Dance Co., headed by Erika Ruegemer, will perform at 7 p.m. at 1975 and 9 p.m. at The Yards.

Art and Vintage on Main

Tucked into a corner by the railroad tracks in the village of East Rochester is a nondescript brick building with the words “AVoM” splashed across a picture window.

It’s a poor indication of the beauty inside the 100-year-old building, but Pittsford native Rosa Arnone is working on that.

Before she opened the space in June 2012, Arnone worked alongside her father to install floor-to-ceiling windows, build shelves and scout vintage furniture from local estate sales.

We have a history of being pickers in my family,” says Arnone, who displays and sells each piece she finds.

Arnone is assisted by Shevaune Ray, owner of Jane Doe Style, and shares the space with Katrina Elliott, a fashion designer who has launched her first line, Katrina Elliott. The three first tested their relationship during a runway show at the Greentopia Festival in September, where Arnone furnished the runway’s “lounge,” Elliott designed organic-based fashions and Ray designed hair and makeup.

I like the idea that the art scene in Rochester is more of a collaborative effort, and not a competitive effort,” Arnone says.

In her spare time — a relative term for the 26-year-old — Arnone is completing her master’s thesis in communication at the Rochester Institute of Technology and working on a side project called “Art for Kids by Kids.” The project’s goal is to become a full-fledged not-for-profit that would provide art classes for local youngsters and encourage them to donate their work to local children’s hospitals.

101 E. Main St., East Rochester;

Arc + Flame Center

Inside a combination welding and blacksmithing shop in Gates, a tall blonde woman in tan cowboy boots places a piece of red-hot metal on an anvil. Her ponytail bobs as she hammers and chisels, adding to the already deafening whirs and clanks of machinery coming from the open-air metal shop 30 feet away.

The piece in question is being fashioned into a leaf, and as the heat seeps from the oval shape, she wrinkles her nose, plucks a pair of tongs from the coals, and sticks it back in the fire. Then, she smiles down at her left hand, which displays a large diamond and gold band.

I hit my hand all the time,” she says with a wink. “But never the rings.”

Candice “Candy” Martens is the blacksmithing director at Arc + Flame Center of Rochester, located just off the Manitou Road exit on Route 531.

Its history dates back 10 years, when Michael Krupnicki opened the neighboring Mahaney Welding Supply and added a welder-training laboratory.

I had very modest goals to do weekend warrior classes and some training for customers once in a while,” he says. “And then demand just exploded.”

In nine years, Mahaney enrolled more than 3,500 trainees and outgrew the shop, so plans for a center next door were born. Krupnicki quickly decided to invite local blacksmithing and glass experts to be a part of the new facility, which opened in January 2011.

Inside the 5,000-square-foot Arc + Flame Center is a gallery and lobby, along with kiln, glass-blowing, metal and flame shops. About 100 students walk through the doors each week to take one of the many classes and workshops offered.

For Krupnicki, a graduate of Monroe Community College and the Rochester Institute of Technology, the fulfillment of his art comes in giving back to preparing the next generation of welders, blacksmiths and glass-blowers.

This stuff isn’t exactly inexpensive to do (unless) you can get college credit,” he said. “All these students in colleges that don’t have similar facilities now have the chance to come here and learn.”

Renting space for college classes is now part of the business model that sustains Arc + Flame. Eventually, Krupnicki plans to expand the lobby/gallery space and have an artist-in-residency program.

125 Fedex Way, Gates;

Up next: For the month of February, Arc + Flame will increase the number of its popular date night classes — complete with wine and hors d’oeuvres — that run on different nights. Couples looking to break the traditional “dinner-and-a-movie” mold can sign up to create small glass or metal objects such as hearts, flowers and animals. A four-hour class is $150.