All posts by Bradley Butler

From The Director: Heightened Awareness

roberto bertoia, gregory page, main street arts

Heightened Awareness (Installation shot)

The themes that are explored in this exhibition are a nod to the fact that we (human beings) don’t fully experience life. Seldom do we allow ourselves to fully experience all of the subtle nuances that exist in our world. Many of us are glued to glowing screens, experiencing things removed from real time and processed through a social media feed. This mediated existence leaves us missing out on things in the moment and maybe some of us don’t care about that. Perhaps we relish in the fact that technology and human life are becoming one and the very idea of “being in the moment” is changing, however, it is a certainty that there are other things happening that are worthy of our attention.

Left: LPV No. 3 (Detail) by Roberto Bertoia; Right: Motifs From ISU Greenhouse (Detail) by Gregory Page

Left: LPV No. 3 (Detail) by Roberto Bertoia; Right: Motifs From ISU Greenhouse (Detail) by Gregory Page

Heightened Awareness presents the work of Roberto Bertoia and Gregory Page, two artists who are interested in these ideas and their work comes from a place of slowing down and noticing the quiet moments in life. Both artists have a desire to be aware of the minute details of their surroundings. This exhibition is a contemplation on being present in the moment and truly experiencing things.

Gregory Page, Lithography

The translucent film for the print “Euonymus Alatus Burning Bush , State 1″ by Gregory Page

Gregory Page has 11 large-scale lithographs featured in the exhibition and each of them utilize his own unique process of drying plants, rehydrating them in a lithographic drawing solution, and arranging them on a translucent film which is then used to make the final printing plate. The plants he uses in his work come from as close as his own backyard and as far away as Edinburgh, Scotland. For Greg, it is about experiencing nature and plant life first-hand.

“I love getting up in the morning, getting in the garden and getting my hands in the dirt. Moving some compost around, planting something and watching it grow. The garden has been a real inspiration for me for a long time.” —Gregory Page

Gregory page, Lithograph, Main Street Arts

“Motifs from ISU Greenhouse, Selection II” (detail) by Gregory Page

It is also about cataloging and making a record of things that exist in our world. With nature in a state of flux, it becomes important to create a record of things as they existed in a certain moment in time.

The sculpture of Roberto Bertoia is made with second-hand, salvaged pieces of wood. He turns them into something new, something other than what was originally intended. He uses his material in an intuitive way, building without a solidified plan, similar to a painter responding to each brushstroke. Through this organic and fluid process his finished pieces are an homage to architecture and design and create interesting relationships between the interior and exterior.

Roberto Bertoia, Sculpture

“Untitled 1″ (detail) by Roberto Bertoia

He enjoys the paradox of seeing and not seeing and contemplating what is hidden and what is revealed. Roberto’s sculpture can be a metaphor for the ways we hide and reveal specific things about ourselves. The subtle moments that slowly shape our perspective on how we interact with people and the world we create for ourselves is something that he finds inspiring.

Roberto Bertoia, Sculpture

“Where Am I To Live” by Roberto Bertoia

“I try to be open and receptive to what’s going on around me. What may seem everyday or mundane may seem more important when I end up in the studio.” —Roberto Bertoia

The notion of slowing down and paying attention is not a new idea but it is one that we are constantly reminded of. Specifically, I think this is the way that we should experience art. Instead of breezing through an exhibition or merely scrolling through an artist’s Instagram feed, let’s spend some time thinking in front of the actual artwork. We may be surprised by where this small, yet meaningful  experience will take us.


The exhibition Heightened Awareness will run through Friday,  August 17, 2018 and you can view available work on the gallery’s Artsy page.

Cultivate_exhibition_4

From The Director: Cultivate

I often ask myself the questions “who are we?” and “how are we perceived?”. At this moment in time, I am being especially reflective and thinking about the larger vision of Main Street Arts and how we fit into the cultural context of our region and beyond. I am also thinking of what defines the gallery and our point of view. What gives us continuity year after year?

Installation shot from CULTIVATE; Left to right: work by Jody Selin, Lanna Pejovic, and Pat Bacon

Installation shot from CULTIVATE; Left to right: work by Jody Selin, Lanna Pejovic, and Pat Bacon

Above all else, I believe it is the process of curating. The careful consideration of what happens when two seemingly disparate pieces come together in close proximity in an exhibition. I want to present art in a way that gives a new context or a different understanding — a reexamination of something commonplace or well known. More than showing any one thing specifically, I am interested in the way we look at the world and at the people, places, and things within it. How the artists that we show interpret both the human experience and the world in which we live is integral. I look forward to each year of programming at the gallery with fresh eyes and an appetite to discover something new and interesting with the hope to share that with everyone who visits Main Street Arts.

Installation shot from CULTIVATE, In foreground, work by Chad Grohman

Installation shot from CULTIVATE, In foreground, work by Chad Grohman

CULTIVATE is not only an exhibition of great work by Pat Bacon, Chad Grohman, Patrick Kana, Meredith Mallwitz, Lanna Pejovic, Jody Selin, Mike Tarantelli, and Sylvia Taylor, it is also the start of something new. With this exhibition serving as the kick off event, we are starting to represent the work of these eight gallery artists. Thinking about the launch of our new program at Main Street Arts gets me thinking about where we have been and where we plan to go; as this comes on the cusp of our five year anniversary of opening the gallery in June of 2013.

Left: Our first exhibition,"Locality" in June 2013; Right: "Cultivate" in April 2018.

Left: Our first exhibition,”Locality” in June 2013; Right: “Cultivate” in April 2018.

I have learned many things since starting this journey as a gallery director and curator. Some have been practical and others have been existential but everything has contributed to getting us where we are at the present moment.

We have always made an effort to put together exhibitions that showcase engaging work in a variety of media from across the upstate New York region. As we move forward, we will hone in on this even more by mounting solo exhibitions and small group shows from our new roster of gallery artists. I am extremely excited about being involved with a select number of artists over a long period of time. The depth that we will be able to achieve by showing an evolving body of work from a group of artists presents great possibilities.

Left: Drawing by Tricia Butski, who will be featured in the upcoming "Upstate NY Drawing Invitational" at the end of August; Right: Work by Lin Price and Carrianne Hendrickson from "Dream State", January 2018.

Left: Drawing by Tricia Butski, who will be featured in the upcoming “Upstate NY Drawing Invitational” at the end of August; Right: Work by Lin Price and Carrianne Hendrickson from “Dream State”, January 2018.

In addition to showing the work of our gallery artists, we will of course continue to have the same kind of exhibitions that people have come to know and expect from Main Street Arts. From our national juried shows to the invitational exhibitions that bring together the work of different artists from across the region. Whether the exhibitions are media specific (i.e. our upcoming Upstate New York Drawing Invitational) or centered around some kind of subject or theme (i.e. Sacred Curiosities, Dream State), we will still continue our search for new work by artists we have yet to meet.


The exhibition CULTIVATE will run through Friday,  May 18, 2018. More information about each of the eight gallery artists can be found on our website. View available work on the gallery’s Artsy page.

From The Director: Into the Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar

The three bodies of work presented in this exhibition are entirely different. Jasna Bogdanovska, Harry Littell, and Nigel Maister have each explored specific concepts through their imagery. Some are abstracted views of reality while others are a document of a specific time and place.

During the installation process of Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar

During the installation process of Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar

Although each body of work is different, there is an overlap between them and a connection from one idea to the next. The name of the show Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar comes from my thinking about each of the artists and distilling their ideas surrounding the work into one word.

The Liminal #31 and #32 by Nigel Maister

The Liminal #31 and #32 by Nigel Maister

Unknown pertains to Nigel’s work and the way that he is investigating the relationship between the real and the imagined. He is using abstracted views of branches, leaves, and other flora as a way to depict the unseen. By pushing the values and colors of his images taken in the dark of night, he creates new worlds that are neither completely real nor entirely a figment of his imagination. The Liminal #31 and #32, part of a larger series (The Liminal) show two sides of his intentions. Both of these images may exist in a dream but one is more like an overload of saturation and visual stimulation, while the other could be a foreboding scene from a nightmare. The push and pull between being overstated and understated is one of the interesting things about the series as a whole and it makes for a varied experience when taking in the exhibition.

Farm drainage tile, Romulus by Harry Littell

Farm drainage tile, Romulus by Harry Littell

Overlooked came to mind when thinking about Harry’s project. He is investigating the upstate NY landscape and the small towns that we live in, drive through, or remember from years past. His photographs sometimes document a rather lifeless subject in a way that brings a depth of possible meaning or emotion. In Farm drainage tile (Romulus), a simple bundle of drainage tile sitting in a field becomes many things all at once. It is a monolithic structure, it is a stand-in for a large bale of hay typically seen in a field, and it is also waiting to go in the ground for its intended purpose. Without Harry finding beauty or an interest in this image, we may have just driven by and not paid any attention.

"Palimpsest" by Jasna Bogdanovska

“Palimpsest” by Jasna Bogdanovska

Unfamiliar connects to something in Jasna’s images. She is investigating her own identity, a dual identity. Born in Macedonia but living in the United States, she found the exact geographic midpoint between her two homes in the town of Grindavík, Iceland. This place that was once unfamiliar to her now became the symbol of her dual identity and the springboard for a series of photographs. Through a layered symbolism, she explores personal stories and ideas that relate back to this. The image pictured above, Palimpsest consists of a book resting on a rock in a shallow body of water. The meaning of the title has to do with a change occurring to something (i.e. a piece of writing or a place, perhaps even a person) with the original still showing through after the revision. In a way, this could be a self portrait. The book may have originally been written to describe a person who was born and lived in Macedonia. Pages inside have then been erased and rewritten, describing someone who now lives in America. The book is resting on a rock, which may represent Iceland, the place that is in between.

Installation shot: Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar

Installation shot: Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar

So, even though Jasna, Harry, and Nigel make completely different work, the overlap between them is present in this exhibition. I would suggest seeing it in person to find your own parallels and connections. Stop in before the show closes at the end of the month!

Installation shot: Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar

Installation shot: Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar


See Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar at Main Street Arts through Friday, March 30, 2018. You can also preview the exhibition on Artsy: Artsy.net/mainstreetarts.

From The Director: Art From a Dream State

Similar to the four artists included in this exhibition, I also make artwork that floats in the realm of dreams and a questioning of reality. Many of the exhibitions that we have here (selfishly) relate to my own studio practice or ideas that I am personally interested in and it is because I find these things so interesting that I choose to share them with you through our exhibition programming.

Installation shot from Dream State (pictured: "Isle of Wight" by Lin Price and "The Dream" by Carrianne Hendrickson)

Installation shot from the exhibition (pictured: “Isle of Wight” by Lin Price and “The Dream” by Carrianne Hendrickson)

The notion of the dream state is a never ending source of inspiration and it can be both the object and the subject of an artwork. We rarely give ourselves the opportunity to let our dreams inform our waking life but much can be gained by doing so. Our subconscious mind is often holding the answers to questions that we have been asking ourselves. It is able to offer a glimpse into a personal truth or a hint at finding some kind of greater understanding. The goal in engaging with your dreams, at least for me, is to build a stronger connection between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. The closer in proximity these two can be, the closer we are to realizing the benefits of dreaming.

Dream State, installation shot

“Dream State”, installation shot

The idea for this exhibition came after a studio visit with Lin Price in Ithaca. I was drawn in to her work when I first saw it in a solo exhibition at Axom Gallery two years ago. When I was talking to her about the prospect of being in an exhibition, I began to think about the sculptures of Carrianne Hendrickson—we had recently begun showing several of Carrianne’s figurative pieces in our gallery shop. Lin had one painting in particular that reminded me of a specific piece I had seen by Carrianne. It was one of the paintings shown in the exhibition at Axom Gallery.

These two pieces in particular (one of Lin’s and one of Carrianne’s) are the reason this show came together. Left: She Only Flies at Nite by Lin Price / Right: Sculptural teapot by Carrianne Hendrickson

While they are not included in the exhibition, these two pieces in particular are the reason this show came together. Left: She Only Flies at Nite by Lin Price / Right: Sculptural teapot by Carrianne Hendrickson

The moment I realized that these two artists in particular belonged in a show together was like a revelation. Two people who probably wouldn’t be in an exhibition together but desperately needed to be! One working in oil paint the other in clay, yet both traveling along the same cerebral path.

From my studio visit with Lin Price in Ithaca, NY

From my studio visit with Lin Price in Ithaca, NY

Lin’s work was a perfect fit for an exhibition called “Dream State”. Her paintings often feature a human figure engaging in some sort of mysterious activity in a nondescript environment. The colorful fields and atmospheres lend themselves to the notion of a dream or at least to a time and place that may not actually exist. Other of her paintings that do not include a figure still somehow evoke that same feeling. A feeling that something might happen or is happening just around the corner, out of frame and out of sight.

Sculptural vessels by Carrianne Hendrickson in the Dream State exhibition

Sculptural vessels by Carrianne Hendrickson in the Dream State exhibition

Carrianne’s sculptures are often layered in symbolism. Sometimes referencing known stories, other times referencing the inner world of the artist herself. To me, they often seem to suggest the moment of realization that things are not quite right. The idea that perhaps, I am sleeping and the world I am currently experiencing is in fact a dream. Examples from pieces in the exhibition include: blank stares from eyes whose head is balancing a bird’s nest, the closed eyes of a dreamer covered in snakes on a yellow striped couch, and the existence of goblins or human/animal hybrids.

Once Lin and Carrianne were secured for inclusion, I then set my sights on finding other artists to bring in to the exhibition and make it more comprehensive.

Left: From my studio visit with Matt Duquette in Buffalo, NY; Right: "The Space In Between" by Matt Duquette

Left: From my studio visit with Matt Duquette in Buffalo, NY; Right: “The Space In Between” by Matt Duquette

I was drawn in by his paintings of chickens. They have an otherworldly feeling to them but are still so relatable because of their subject matter. The paintings of Matt Duquette are often based on dreams and at least one painting in this exhibition was based on a guided meditation session.  Each of the paintings in the exhibition have the same cool, dark color palette. The atmospheric quality of these paintings presents us with situations and we have no idea how we got there. For the most part, there is no other point of reference, just a blue/black void and a light source to accompany the owls and human figures. I get the feeling that these scenes or visions are plucked right from a dream. They tell us something but that “something” is veiled and different for each of us.

Bill Finger's work from the alumni exhibition at RIT

Bill Finger’s work from the alumni exhibition at Rochester Institute of Technology

I saw some of Bill Finger’s photographic triptychs in circular mats at RIT in October of 2016 and was an instant fan. His photographs are a constructed reality running in tandem with the one we live. Whether based on actual places or totally made up, these images have a feeling like trying to recall a dream. You can remember the place and where things were but something seems off. Each of his photographs chosen for this exhibition keep us in an augmented reality where we are unsure what is possible or impossible.

Desert House (Night), a photograph by Bill Finger

Desert House (Night), a photograph by Bill Finger

Imagery that relates to a house or home comes into play throughout this exhibition. Houses, room interiors, nests, these are all familiar images and are all references to places of comfort which are needed to be engaged in sleep. These places become a jumping off point to engage in something that might be unfamiliar or at times, disconcerting. While we have no say in the matter of sleeping, some of us have the ability to recall and consider our dreams. Perhaps not in the way of figuring out the meaning of the dream itself, but to see how the dream may relate to things transpiring in our everyday lives. My hope is that this exhibition can serve as a reminder of how important it is to dream and that we all might begin to look inward in an effort to gain a greater understanding of who we are and how we relate to the world. I know it has for me.


See Dream State at Main Street Arts through this Friday, February 16, 2018. You can also preview some of the work on Artsy: Artsy.net/mainstreetarts.

From The Director: End of 2017 Edition

The last exhibition of 2017, "Small Works"

The last exhibition of 2017, “Small Works”

It’s the end of the year, so naturally we are getting into a reflective mood and reminiscing about all of the great things that happened at the gallery in 2017. This is also a time when we start to get really excited about new things on the horizon in the year to come. If you are thinking to yourself right now, “I wish I could look back at 2017 with Main Street Arts and see some of the exciting things coming up in 2018″, well you are in luck! Keep reading!

Top: Multifaceted, jewelry exhibition; Middle: Re-emerging artists: John Greene and Robert Marx; Bottom: Sacred Curiosities

2017 Exhibition Highlights – Top: Multifaceted, An exhibition of fine jewelry; Middle: Artist talk with John Greene and Robert Marx during Re-emerging Artists; Bottom: Sacred Curiosities

This year, we hosted  fifteen exhibitions on two floors including artwork by a total of 246 artists. Through five solo exhibitions, three two-person shows, four group invitationals, and three national juried exhibitions, we presented a variety of media and artistic perspectives over the course of the year. Highlights for me include hanging jewelry on the wall, hosting an exhibition featuring two artists with over 100 years combined art making experience, and an exhibition based on found objects.

2017 Finger Lakes Regional Student Painting Competition: Self Portraits

2017 Finger Lakes Regional Student Painting Competition: Self Portraits

We also held the 4th annual Finger Lakes Regional Student Painting Competition, which featured 5×7 self portraits by 203 student artists in grades 6 through 12 from 10 area school districts.

May/June, 2017 Artist in Residence, Nick LaTona

May/June, 2017 Artist in Residence, Nick LaTona

Our artist residency program, now well into it’s second year of existence, has been an exciting and meaningful addition to Main Street Arts. This year, we welcomed 18 different artists into our community, including our first ceramic artist in residence, Mandy Ranck, providing them the time and space to focus on making their art. We had artists from the Finger Lakes/Rochester areas; Brooklyn, NY; Staten Island, NY; Jersey City, NJ; Lenox, MA; Phoenix, AZ; and Austin, TX.

2017 Workshop Highlights – In order from top left to bottom right: The Beauty of Small with Cathy Gordon; Printmaking with Chas Davis; students from Penn Yan Academy on a field trip to the gallery making Collage/Assemblage pieces; Encaustic Collage with Ali Herrmann

2017 Workshop Highlights – In order from top left to bottom right: The Beauty of Small with Cathy Gordon; Printmaking with Chas Davis; students from Penn Yan Academy on a field trip to Main Street Arts, making Collage/Assemblage pieces; Encaustic Collage with Ali Herrmann

Artists in residence have the opportunity to teach workshops during their stay at the gallery. In 2017, we ran workshops with 7 of our artists in residence in the following media: ceramics, embroidery, encaustic wax, painting, printmaking, and mixed-media collage. We also offered several workshops in jewelry making and fiber arts with a handful of regional artists as the instructors.

Artist Talks

2017 Event Highlights – Top: Upstate NY Painting Invitational Artist Talk; Bottom, left to right: Sketch session with Andy Reddout and Genine Carvalheira-Geman; Artist talk with John Greene and Robert Marx; and Tintype Demo with John Coffer.

In addition to showcasing the artwork of great artists, we sometimes also ask them to come to the gallery to talk about their work. This year, we hosted artist talks with Robert Marx and John Greene in April in conjunction with their Re-emerging Artists exhibition, Genine Carvalheira-Gehman and Andy Reddout in March for their exhibition of sketchbooks on our second floor, along with a talk with 7 of the painters featured in the Upstate New York Painting Invitational in September. We also invited nationally-known tintype photographer, John Coffer to do a demo here in March as part of the Alternative Process Photography exhibition.

Students and their art teacher, Sherry Blanco during their field trip in October

Penn Yan students and their art teacher, Sherry Blanco during their field trip in October

In October, we also had a group of 15 art students from Penn Yan Academy come in for a field trip to learn about our Sacred Curiosities exhibition and to make their own mixed media collage/assemblage pieces!

Now onto 2018…

The first exhibition of 2018, "Dream State" will open on Saturday, January 13.

The first exhibition of 2018, “Dream State” will open on Saturday, January 13.

We have an exciting schedule of exhibitions planned for next year. Our first exhibition will be called Dream State and will include the work of four artists. Through painting, sculpture and photography, this exhibition is an exploration of time and space, a suspension of reality, and a journey into a personal mental space. The four artists included in this invitational exhibition are Matt Duquette of Buffalo; Bill Finger of Seattle, WA; Carrianne Hendrickson of Rochester; and Lin Price of Ithaca.

“Former King Ferry Scoreboard”, photograph by Harry Littell (Selection from the new book “UNROOM: New 2 U”, a collaboration with author Ron Ostman documenting the surrounding region, finding the beauty in the everyday built environment.)

Next up is an exhibition called Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar. This exhibition opens on February 24 and will present three distinct bodies of work from three photographers. Each series of images is an investigation into a unique and distinct subject matter. Presented together, the similarities and differences between each body of work will be amplified as parallels between different concepts are made. 30 Photographs by Jasna Bogdanovska, Harry Littell (pictured above), and Nigel Maister will be included and an artist talk will take place on Saturday, March 10 at 1pm.

Main Street Arts’ profile on Artsy, showing our eight represented artists

In April, we will open an exhibition called Cultivate and it will be an introduction to a new gallery program. Main Street Arts will be representing a roster of regional artists. This is something I have wanted to do for a few years and I am so excited to start with eight wonderful artists: Pat Bacon of Lyons, Chad Grohman of Buffalo, Patrick Kana of Geneva, Meredith Mallwitz of Canandaigua, Lanna Pejovic of Honeoye Falls, Jody Selin of Buffalo, Mike Tarantelli of Rochester, and Sylvia Taylor of Ithaca. Work by our represented artists is regularly available on Artsy and at the gallery. Expect to hear much more about this in the new year!

Photo from a visit to Lanna Pejovic's studio in June

Photo from a visit to Lanna Pejovic’s studio in June

There will be a solo exhibition each year for one of the gallery artists, and this year we are excited to mount a solo exhibition of paintings by Lanna Pejovic in October. Stay tuned for more info…

Aside from a solo exhibition and perhaps a group exhibition including these artists each year, I am still excited to have invitational exhibitions which include artists from our region and beyond. A majority of the year will still be filled with the types of exhibitions you have come to know (and hopefully love!) at Main Street Arts.

The Cup, The Mug 2017; our last show of the year on the second floor

“The Cup, The Mug”; our last show of 2017 on the second floor

As we continue to focus our efforts, things will be a little bit different on our second floor. In order to focus on the eight main exhibitions per year in our first floor gallery space and promoting the work of our represented artists, we will no longer have regular exhibitions on our second floor. That space will be dedicated to showing the work of our artists in residence, our gallery artists, and special pop up exhibitions.

And now for 2018 and beyond…

Finally, I would like to announce that this coming year Main Street Arts will be starting the process of converting from a commercial entity to a non-profit. From the beginning, in 2013, we have been graciously funded by Marjorie Morris and the Morris family. Mrs. Morris has, and continues to be, a wonderful patron of Main Street Arts and by extension, all of the artists we have been fortunate enough to show here. Moving forward with a non-profit status will allow us to function in a more sustainable manner and help us to continue to promote the work of artists for many years to come.

This also means that we are able to accept donations and are currently accepting them for a scholarship fund for our artist residency program. If you are interested in supporting our residency program, please contact the gallery for more information.

Main Street Arts, decked out for the holiday season, 2017

Main Street Arts, decked out for the holiday season, 2017

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your support over the past four and a half years. We look forward to many more years of continuing our mission of promoting the work of artists from our region, encouraging the creation of art, and fostering a creative community through exhibitions, artist residency program, workshops, and events.

— Bradley Butler, gallery director and curator


There were so many great exhibitions, workshops, residents, and events in 2017 and it was impossible for me to talk about everything in a concise manner. So, I encourage you to look back and see everything in detail for yourself: 2017 Resident Artists, 2017 Exhibition History, Photo Albums on Flickr.

From The Director: Sacred Curiosities

Sacred Curiosities, installation shot

Sacred Curiosities, installation shot

Sometimes, an exhibition will come to me quickly. An artist will submit their work and it instantly sparks an idea of what other artist/artists could be paired with this person to make an engaging show. The full concept and title will also come easily and all will be well… More often, I will come up with an abstract notion of an idea and then try to find work that will fit. For Sacred Curiosities, it was the latter.

Planning notes for the exhibition

Planning notes for the exhibition with the first three artists to be included

About a year and a half ago, I had the spark of an idea for an exhibition and wrote myself a note that said “Object/Relic/Ritual”. This vague description was a guide for me but didn’t really get close to defining what the show would be, visually. I knew it would be based on objects (found objects) that seemed like relics, either from the artist’s everyday life or from another time entirely. The “ritual” aspect shows up in work that seems to indicate daily routine and in some cases, references to religious or spiritual practices.

A shrine by Chad Grohman. Chad's motivation for making these pieces comes from his experiences as a Nichiren Shu Buddhist Priest. The content of his images comes from doctrinal concepts found throughout the Buddhist cannon.

A shrine by Chad Grohman. Chad’s motivation for making these pieces comes from his experiences as a Nichiren Shu Buddhist Priest. The content of his images comes from doctrinal concepts found throughout the Buddhist cannon.

Immaculate Conception (front piece), a sculpture by Jacquie Germanow sits in front of many of Marth O'Connor's female totems and a framed "portrait" by Emily Kenas on the wall

“Immaculate Conception” (front piece), a sculpture by Jacquie Germanow sits in front of many of Martha O’Connor’s female totems and a framed “portrait” by Emily Kenas on the wall

A large part of Sacred Curiosities is focused on found object sculpture. The beauty of this method of making art is that many disparate parts—all with their own meaning or connotation—come together to form something new. The grouping of materials may be harmonious or it may be a collection of diverse and contradictory parts. The artists create new meaning from the various materials.

“Two Figures”, a found object sculpture by Emily Kenas as seen at a studio visit on March 15, 2016 (left) and again May 3, 2017 (right)

The paintings, drawings, and other more traditionally constructed sculpture add to this notion by depicting personal, historical, or cultural signifiers as they relate to the artist.

Richard Rockford pointing to "Todd" during my studio vist with him. This is an image made by cutting and reconstructing a vintage sign

Richard Rockford pointing to “Todd” during my studio visit with him in September, 2016. This piece was made by cutting and reconstructing a vintage sign.

Thinking about the meaning of objects led me to think about the passage of time and how the meaning we assign to certain objects can change. A symbol or signifier excavated centuries after it was made is interpreted out of its original context and the meaning is assigned based on what else may be known of the time from which it came.

A collection of legs from various sculptures in Bill Stewart's studio

A collection of legs from various sculptures in Bill Stewart’s studio

What will remain from our time here on earth? What will be known of our civilization when our cultural relics are unearthed? These questions helped me frame the exhibition and give it a context, even if only in my own mind, but the real meaning of the show is derived from the individual meaning created by each artist.

Photo from the studio of Jean Stephens, taken in July, 2016 just after a trip out west when she started working with these images of rock formations.

Photo from the studio of Jean Stephens, taken in July, 2016 just after a trip out west when she started working with these images of rock formations.

This exhibition has humor, evidence of self-examination, nostalgia and most of all a pluralistic collection of disparate parts coming together. Stop in before Friday, November 17 at 6 p.m. to experience this exhibition and investigate all of the bits and pieces that make up this show.

From The Director: Art in the Nation’s Capitol

In front of the National Gallery in Washington D.C.

In front of the National Gallery in Washington D.C.

This past weekend, I attended a family wedding in Washington D.C. While I was there, I had a whole day to kill before the wedding so I decided to see some art. I started out in the west building of the National Gallery of Art, where they mainly have what I call “the old stuff”. 

Rotunda in entrance of West Building

Rotunda in entrance of West Building

While there is so much to appreciate and study in art from early art history, I usually bypass the collections from the middle ages, renaissance, and prehistoric times. I typically choose to look at artwork made after 1900. Today, I decided to just take it all in (or at least as much as I could in 4 hours) and wandered through each room in the grand building.

Bronze casts of French members of Parliament made from Daumier original unbaked clay sculptures

Bronze casts of French members of Parliament made from Daumier’s original unbaked clay sculptures

Not surprisingly, the things I was drawn to were not that old. Highlights for me from the West Building include bronze sculptures of French officials by Daumier; Color in Context, a small exhibition of prints by Edvard Munch focusing on the use of color and the specific theosophical meaning of his colors; and Posing For The Camera, an exhibition of 60 photographs chronicling how posing for a portrait has changed since the invention of photography.

(left) Photo of playwright Jean Genêt by Brassaï, (center) Untitled photo from Berlin by György Kepes; and (right) Photo of Lucian Freud by Brassaï

(left) Photo of playwright Jean Genêt by Brassaï, (center) Untitled photo from Berlin by György Kepes; and (right) Photo of Lucian Freud by Brassaï

Moving to the East building (with a break for a burrito in the park) you notice the distinct differences in the architecture. The first building was classical, the second building was modern and angular.

Interior shot of the east building of the National Gallery

Interior shot of the East Building

The highlights from this building of the National Gallery include a drawing with soot by Lee Bontecou; “Blue Blood” by Martin Puryear, a large circular piece made from pine and cedar; and the thing that knocked me out the most was a film by James Nares called “Street” with a score by Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth.

"Untitled" drawing with soot by Lee Bontecou

“Untitled” drawing with soot by Lee Bontecou

"Blue Blood" by Martin Puryear

“Blue Blood” by Martin Puryear (with security guy for scale reference)

In the viewing room at The National Gallery watching "Street" by James Nares

In the viewing room at The National Gallery watching “Street” by James Nares

It was a slow motion ride around the streets of NYC and the way we get to interact with these people, usually staring at us or off in to the distance, is very intriguing.  See a clip from the piece here.

Large Robert motherwell painting on the bottom level

Large Robert motherwell painting on the bottom level

"Achilles" by Barnet Newman (left) and two paintings by Clifford Still (right)

“Achilles” by Barnet Newman (left) and two paintings by Clifford Still (right)

"Salut Tom", a huge painting by Joan Mitchell

“Salut Tom”, a huge painting by Joan Mitchell

There were of course some large abstract expressionist paintings, which I always like but the Nares film was my favorite piece. I wish I was able to experience all 61 minutes of it but I didn’t have enough time.

It is always a good idea to check out galleries and museums that you’ve never been to. Sometimes when I am on a trip or vacation, there just isn’t enough time. I’m glad I made the time during this short trip.

204 of Thousands, an installation of cups by Ehren Tool at the Renwick Gallery

“204 of Thousands”, an installation of cups by Ehren Tool at the Renwick Gallery

I also stopped into the Renwick Gallery the day before and saw a great installation of cups by Ehren Tool. Part of his ongoing body of work dealing with war through pottery. This installation at the Renwick Gallery was just a small number compared to the 14,000+ that he has made as part of this project. Powerful to see.

From The Director: End of September Edition

Upstate New York Painting Invitational

Upstate New York Painting Invitational

There have been so many things going on this month, I thought it would be nice to give some highlights… This is the last week to see two great exhibitions. You have until Saturday afternoon to experience the Upstate New York Painting Invitational and Fuse, a solo exhibition of sculpture by Mitch Messina. 

Detail of "" by Mitch Messina

Detail of “Circuit” from the exhibition by Mitch Messina

This is the third consecutive year that we have done a regional, media-specific exhibition. Last year it was printmaking and the year before it was ceramics. This is a great opportunity to see eight painters from our region working in a variety of different styles and media.

We are also having an artists talk this Saturday, October 7 at 2p.m. with seven of the artists included in the Painting Invitational. You can RSVP and get updates on our Facebook Event Page.


The end of each month is always bittersweet… It means that we have to say goodbye to our artists in residence. The bright side is that we get to welcome new artists into our community! Plus this month, Mandy Ranck is staying on for a two month residency, so we get to hang out with her for a while longer.

Ali Herrmann teaching her encaustic collage workshop at Main Street Arts

Ali Herrmann teaching her encaustic collage workshop at Main Street Arts

We are saying goodbye to Ali Herrmann and wishing her well as she travels back home to Lenox, MA. She was the first encaustic artist to be a resident at Main Street Arts and we really enjoyed getting to know her and her work while she was here.


For the month of September, I was honored to be able to teach art classes two days per week at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center. These classes provided an art experience for some of the veterans who are full time residents in the geriatric and psych wards at the VA.

"Animal Collage" project from one of the students at the VA Medical Center

“Animal Collage” project from one of the students at the VA Medical Center

Each class we completed a different project and focused on painting, collage, and ceramics. I would usually have 10–15 guys in the class but the day we did the clay figures, 25 showed up! It was a great experience and I look forward to doing more with the VA in the future.


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On Sunday, Sept. 24, I was privileged to be a part of the Ontario County Arts Council’s “Art Talk” series. In case you missed it, the Art Talk at Wood Library in Canandaigua will be aired on Finger Lakes Television (Spectrum cable 12, digital channel 5.12) on October 6 at 9 a.m., October 7 at 6 p.m., October 13 at 9 a.m., and October 14 at 6 p.m.


Mandy Ranck is our first ceramic resident artist and she also guided our kiln along it’s maiden voyage! We have had a kiln at the gallery since we opened 4 years ago but just have not been able to fire it until this year. 

Mandy Ranck loading work into our kiln at Main Street Arts

Mandy Ranck loading work into our kiln at Main Street Arts

We are looking forward to each time Mandy unloads the kiln! If you are a ceramic artist or you know someone who is interested in a residency, check out the details on our website. You will have full access to the kiln and a potter’s wheel.


Installation shot from last year's Small Works exhibition

Installation shot from last year’s Small Works exhibition

Our deadline for two national juried exhibitions was yesterday at midnight! Keep your eyes peeled as we reveal the accepted artists work in preparation for the opening receptions on Saturday, December 2. The fate of each exhibition is now in the hands of our jurors, Cory Card (Small Works) and Peter Pincus (The Cup, The Mug).

While the month of September was definitely a busy one, the coming months will continue in its path, starting with the installation of our next exhibition Sacred Curiosities, which features the work of 13 artists (opening reception on Saturday, October 21 from 4 to 7 pm). The arrival of work for our two national juried exhibitions will follow, and before you know it, the installation and opening of those exhibitions will be here! We will also be announcing our 2018 exhibition calendar very soon so check our website, follow us on social media and, if you haven’t already, sign up for our weekly email newsletter to keep up with all that’s going on!

From The Director: Hanging Jewelry on The Wall

5-Brad_Multifaceted

From the DirectorA series that offers a behind-the-scenes look at the exhibitions and events that take place at Main Street Arts, as well as insight from the director’s perspective on the artwork and artists featured.


A grouping of work in Multifaceted

Multifaceted exhibition, a view from the second room

As with all of our exhibitions, I have been looking forward to installing our current show, Multifaceted: An Exhibition of Fine Jewelry. One of the greatest thrills of curating and hanging an exhibition is in the process of laying out the work and going through the different possibilities for making the exhibition the best version of what it could be. So many variations of the same exhibition exist prior to making the final decisions to make THE exhibition.

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Preparing for installation…

I knew it would be a challenge to install jewelry, especially since we wanted to put as much as possible directly on the wall. One of the main concerns was making sure the exhibition would adequately fill the space. When all of the work was taken out of boxes and bags, it was all able to fit on a table and a hand full of pedestals—I started to get a little nervous! However, as pieces started to be set in place, we could see that we had enough work. Our next concern was that we didn’t want the individual pieces to get lost on the large walls of the gallery. Painting a variety of circles in a muted blue helped to give context to jewelry groupings and provided a rhythm to the wall as a whole.

FTD_Jewelry)planning1

Trays, bowls, vases, and other circular objects proved helpful when painting circles! Pictured: Necklaces by Boo Poulin and a brooch by Juan Carlos Caballero-Perez

We also used mirrors, painted with a metallic gold, to add another dimensional element to the layout. As you pass by the sections with mirrors, you notice something moving in your periphery and—I hope—it causes you to stop and look closer at the surrounding collection of jewelry. They also serve a practical purpose in this exhibition, since most of the work in this show is made to be worn.

Multifaceted Installation shot, with mirrors.

Multifaceted Installation shot, with mirrors.

Ultimately, I wanted to do this exhibition to change the context of how we look at jewelry. My hope is for people to experience these pieces as if they were looking at painting or sculpture and spend time considering the meaning behind the work. The jewelry is out of its usual case in the gallery shop and is taking its rightful place on the walls and on pedestals of the gallery—seen as the works of art that they are.

Stop in to experience the exhibition in person before it closes this Friday, August 18.

From The Director: Utopia/Dystopia

Installation view from "Utopia/Dystopia", painting in foreground by Polly Little

Installation view from ‘Utopia/Dystopia’, painting in foreground by Polly Little

Juried exhibitions are interesting from my perspective as a gallery director. There is much less control of the outcome in an exhibition like this. Typically, I get to choose each artist—and many times, each specific piece—that will be included in a show. From the beginning, I have an idea of how the exhibition will come together and how it can be installed to become an interesting thing unto itself. However, in a juried show I have no control over what will be displayed, only how it will be  displayed.

The usual exhibition at Main Street Arts has its beginnings in seeing a specific piece by an artist and slowly building the idea for the exhibition around that. The place that I end up may be different from where I started but it is this organic process that keeps things interesting for me from year to year.

The current national juried exhibition, Utopia/Dystopia features 40 artists from 15 different states selected by our juror, John Massier—visual arts curator at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center in Buffalo, NY. The idea for this exhibition came to me last year during the strange spectacle that was primaries and started out only as “dystopia”, with no brighter side. As a little time passed, it became important to add in “utopia” as the counterpoint with the hope for an exhibition that presented competing visions of the future. The resulting exhibition brings the realization that the themes of utopia and dystopia can be left to interpretation.

Installation view of 'Utopia/Dystopia', Painting by Sarah Peck in foreground

Installation view of ‘Utopia/Dystopia’, Painting by Sarah Peck in foreground

There are of course pieces in the show that are always read as depicting  dystopia (i.e. things that are on fire or demonic figures) and then there are those that could be both. Endless Pool by Anna Pleskow could be read either way, I see both isolation and serenity. Fretful Mickey by Jennifer McCandless  is meant to be “a dystopian Disney that is hot, crowded, and the only thing to eat is a giant turkey leg” (a quote from the artist) but I could also see this as an alternative version of the Disney classic that is perhaps even more captivating.

(left) "Endless Pool" by Anna Pleskow (right) "Fretful Mikey" by Jennifer McCandless

(left) “Endless Pool” by Anna Pleskow (right) “Fretful Mikey” by Jennifer McCandless

Even though I had a complete lack of control in selecting the work for Utopia/Dystopia, I am very happy with the selections made by our juror. It is an eclectic mix that makes you laugh, scratch your head, and maybe even get a little creeped out! Stop in before June 30, 2017 to see the show before it is gone.