As I sit here and prepare myself to write this end of the year blog post, I find it hard to believe that a whole year has actually gone by; 2019 was a whirlwind of a year for us at Main Street Arts!
In our first full year as a 501(c)(3) non profit arts organization, we have been humbled and encouraged by the support of so many of you through our fundraising efforts. Your contributions help us to keep offering a variety of arts programming to our immediate community, our region, and beyond. Through our first Artist at the Table event and Residency Alumni Exhibition in April, we raised enough funds to start offering financial support to artists in residence. Starting in January 2020, we will be able to fully fund one resident per quarter and offer partial funding to accepted artists in residence in need. We welcomed 22 artists in residence in 2019 from 13 different states and 1 Canadian province. This is the most artists we’ve had come through the program in a single year!
2019 was also a great year for exhibitions at Main Street Arts. From group exhibitions like Perception of Time, which explored our relationship to the concept of time; to solo exhibitions like Eccentric Energy, which highlighted the career of well-known Rochester sculptor Bill Stewart. We had a total of 16 exhibitions in 2019, 8 on the main floor and 8 in our second floor gallery space.
While I may be biased in saying this, 2020 is full of great exhibition programming as well. Starting off the year is Sprawling Visions, a 26 artist invitational of paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture and photographs by artists from our region and beyond. Over the past 3 years of having our open call for work, many artist’s submissions have gone unanswered. I would consult the list to find artists for exhibitions we were planning and if there was a fit, I made contact. If not, the submission stayed active. This exhibition is an effort to answer that call and moving forward, all submissions to the open call will be answered twice per year. This exhibition will take place on both floors of the gallery.
In February, we’ll have another large group invitational on both floors with Painters Painting Painters. The exhibition consists of 22 artists from the Finger Lakes, Rochester, and Buffalo areas. Each artist was tasked with making a painting of another artist in the exhibition and the result is a unique look at the variety of figurative painting being done by artists in our region. Additional work by each artist will also be shown, keep an eye out for the full list of artists to be announced soon!
We will also be adding a ninth exhibition to the main floor exhibition calendar in 2020. In December, we will have a special solo exhibition of new work by Robert Ernst Marx, which celebrates his 95th birthday!
The After School Art Experience at Main Street Arts has grown in it’s second year, as we now have two different sections, one for kids in grades 1–3 and another for kids in 4–6. We hit the ground running at the start of the 2019-2020 school year with twice the amount of students in each 4-week session over last year. So far, the students have discussed and made artwork based on a solo exhibition by Sylvia Taylor and they have seen artwork from around the country by a total of 156 artists in our Small Works and The Cup, The Mug exhibitions. This unique program gives kids the opportunity to thoughtfully engage with the artwork in our exhibitions. They learn about the artists, their ideas and processes, and they make artwork based on what they are learning. We are proud of the program and thank instructor Pam Viggiani for cultivating a deeper appreciation for art in the kids in the program each week.
Weekly art classes at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center have been taught by gallery assistant and artist, Maria Galens. She has been doing weekly art sessions with the veterans consistently since February and will be continuing on into 2020. While we have been providing art workshops at the VA since 2014, this is the longest consecutive stretch of classes taught and we are thrilled to be there!
We hope that by now, you have all heard about the latest addition to Main Street Arts. We now own a bookstore on Main Street in Clifton Springs! Sulfur Books opened at 18 East Main Street on Saturday, November 30th and we couldn’t be happier. Sarah Butler, assistant director, Rachel Crawford, our new literary arts coordinator, and myself spent the month of November tirelessly renovating the storefront. In just 32 days, we moved the entire inventory of Explore! The Bookstore—which MSA board vice president Anne Mancilla gifted to us—built-out, painted, restocked, and rebranded the store.
The existence of Sulfur Books is the reason that we are now launching literary arts programming and we have many exciting programs and events to be announced. Be sure to follow Sulfur Books on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We will be launching the full website soon. Stay tuned!
From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of all of us at Main Street Arts, I would like to thank everyone who came to see an exhibition, attended an event, took a workshop or joined us for a residency. If you are interested in making a year-end contribution to Main Street Arts, you may do so on our website: MainStreetArtsCS.org/support. A donation of any amount will help to support our unique programming and keep us growing into the future. We look forward to seeing you in 2020!