A quick reflection from Kristina Kaiser

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As The Yards prepares for it’s 8th anniversary, I am both excited and overwhelmed reflecting on all the growth in the past year. (Also if you know me, you know I don’t like the term anniversary, I much prefer Birthdays)! 

I am lucky enough to have witnessed and contributed to The Yards for the past 7 years. I started at the space in 2011 as a doey eyed intern eager to make my career in the arts.

Founders Sarah C. Rutherford and Lea Rizzo were wonderful mentors, along with Heather McKay who was renting an area in the “BackYards” space. I met numerous strong women making space for themselves and others, this demonstration of support and community are what tied me to the space. I finally felt I found somewhere belonged, where I could grow, and be with my people. 

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Often those early days seem like a million miles away and it’s hard to keep track of what year we did what event. Sometimes it’s wild to think how I got to be where I am now and that somehow with the help of many, MANY, people we are inches away from making this space truly sustainable.

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Part of the budget we are raising money for are items that would make the space operate more efficiently. New hardware for installing gallery exhibits, a projector with wifi connection, along with updated tools in our wood-shop that are safer and easier to use. With 20 members in our studio space we go through a large amount of consumables. Rotating shows every couple weeks means we go through a lot of paint and a lot of labor. 

From a business perspective the simple option would be to raise rental rates. But I know if we did this we would lose the demographic I feel most compelled to work with, support, and represent. Emerging artists have very few spaces to show their work, try out new ideas, or get experience installing an exhibit. This is especially true in Rochester where I feel the majority of representation in established venues is dependant on the ability of the work to sell. The Yards was once that accessible space for me, I want to continue that legacy and keep our space as economically feasible for emerging artists as possible.

Another big chunk of what we are raising funds for is to continue our low cost programming. We have a number of folks that volunteer their time to strengthen the space, which we are grateful for but want to start compensating these class facilitators for the work they put in. 

We are also in the progress of developing a Teen Ambassador program that will give teens a peek into the art world and how community spaces function. We hope to share tools to build self confidence, engage with arts consumers, and leave us with basic sales and community engagement experience.

Some funds we are earmarking for three sponsored exhibits focusing on new media, installation, and performance works. We want to also offer two scholarships to our Collaborative Residency Program that will enter its 7th year of operation this January. 

Music, food, art, collaboration, installations, and discussions. The essence of what we do has been distilled in a colorful and multifaceted 24-hour event. What we have put together for you this year are all the things I consider to make The Yards great.

We hope this weekend you will help us as we look ahead to the future and Celebr8 the past!

Love, 

KK


Being an Artist in Rochester

Choosing this life is deceptive; it feigns freedom and opportunity, to create that which you decide you should, without revealing the sobering reality that financial success is not guaranteed.  It stokes ego, pushing your passions into the realm of thinking you can support yourself with your art, without admitting that creating art is merely a fraction of the overall job of being an artist.  These are not new revelations, and I take no ownership of these statements, I only convey my personal experience to reinforce them.

How have I been successful? Beyond my own skill and creativity, I try very hard to be a decent human being.
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Growing up, I had two passions: art and science.  I originally chose science for a career, and the universe laughed at me.  To put it lightly, I failed out of college for trying to pursue something I was not as good at.  To make matters more complicated, my academic reset was at a school with few connections in the art community.  The programs were strong, but realtors are right: location location location—my school was too far away from any major city to make an impact.

Coming home to Rochester, I was a step behind.  Finding creative work was incredibly difficult, so I went the path that most artists take to make a living: working retail.  The benefit there was invaluable training in how to talk with the general public (As an artist selling their work, you’re going to have to talk to people).

Finding Work as An Artist

When I did find work as an artist, it was the exactly the situation I had hoped to avoid: I hated my job, and therefore hated what I was good at.  I was in an extremely toxic environment of corporate bullshit.  For all its negativity, it was a great lesson in knowing exactly how NOT to run a business and how NOT to treat people.

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These experiences ultimately led to my starting my personal project: Transit Apparel, and formally entering the Rochester Arts Community as one of its working artists.  I have been fortunate enough to enjoy success with my project and grow my work these past six years.  I had no connections or friends when I started, only an idea.  How have I been successful? Beyond my own skill and creativity, I try very hard to be a decent human being.  And this community is pretty observant to who is civil and who is not.  For the many circles of Rochester’s creative world, I have witnessed MANY egos shot down and left to rot.  It doesn’t matter how good you are or think you are, there will ALWAYS be someone better than you (I tell you this not as a resignation, but to convey that there is always more to learn).

Secrets of the Trade

Within the circle of artisans, I’ll share with you a secret: for every art show or festival you apply to, there is a black list.  That list is full of egotistical artists who don’t play well with others, and the organizers have grown tired of dealing with their antics.  It is best not to make that list.

So in trying to wrap this up into something useful for those of you trying to make it as an artist in our little slice of paradise, I wish to impart this wisdom: be a decent human being.  It is a fantastic personality trait if you don’t have connections from school, artist collectives and groups will be much more open to you, and galleries and shows will be much more eager to exhibit your work.  Great work is great work, but who will see it if you can’t get it displayed? And yes you can go about it yourself with your own public space or forum, but as I said earlier, as an artist selling their work, you’re going to have to talk to people.  And in Rochester, we’ve been through too much to put up with bullshit.

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By Matt Rogers

https://www.transitapparel.com/

 

Finding Place with Sowolu

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I first heard of The Yards in late 2017 from an art friend I made while curating shows for a small—now defunct—coffee shop on the Erie Canal in the ‘burbs. It was the lovely and talented Amber Tracy, who was a renter there at the time and told me about the Collaborative Art Residency.  It sounded exactly like the opportunity I had been waiting to come along. I was in a dark place at the time and had been trying to bring my art practice, which I hadn’t touched since 2009, back from the dead.

At Amber’s recommendation I applied for the residency, lo’ and behold, I got accepted! It was the best thing that could have happened to me at the time, and I’m still grateful to my husband and employer at the time for their patience with me. I had to cut back on my work hours a bit to make time to work the minimum hours in the studio and be present for open studio Saturdays.

I was blessed with the humans I got to share space with during my January 2018 residency, I’m sure every resident says that but mine still felt special. It was Kristina’s first year officially steering the ship as executive director, and it culminated in a pop-up show at the Memorial Art Gallery. I’m still friends with some of my residency mates and am so grateful for that.

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The experience meant a lot to me because I had been feeling very disconnected, I couldn’t relate to anyone around me anymore. Here at The Yards I was finally with like-minded individuals, who actually couldn’t be more different from each other, but shared a passion for exploration, questioning and of course, art. These things had been missing from my life for much too long.

I quickly fell in love with the space and the people, so when a studio space opened up later that spring I hopped on the chance, now my husband and I share a space in the corner of the main gallery. Making it work with rent and jobs is worth the struggle, but what I get from having a space dedicated to my art practice and in the midst of other working artists has been invaluable, how you do measure that?

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I love walking up the street on Saturdays and seeing all the people swarming the public market, the dogs, the strollers, the couples, the buskers. I love saying hi to anyone I may know and greeting strangers. For some reason I love walking up our crazy stairs and seeing how the light is different that morning. I love walking to my studio door and opening it up to see my studio, every time. I love saying hi to my fellow renters as they trickle in for the morning. I love taking smoke breaks on the fire escape and watching the streets bustle while I listen to the conversations at Java’s beneath me.

Sometimes it’s hard to find thins to be grateful for, especially these days. I’m grateful for finding The Yards, a place I can feel comfortable to be my weird art self, and not do it alone.

By: Lisa Rickman
@Sowolu

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Flour City Readings—A New Reading Series at The Yards

by Jennifer Kircher Carr

When I invited a friend to my recent reading, she told me she had never gone to a reading before, and didn’t know what to expect. 

“It’s the best!” I told her. “Story time for grown-ups.” Three excited smiley face emoji (yes, I also talk to others mainly via text). 

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When we’re kids, story time is a given. We all sit together on the floor, huddled around some adult with a book, listening aptly as the pages turn and the story unfolds. But as we get older, the chances of that type of experience are fewer and farther between. Yet still, hearing words aloud in the room brings us together. There is something about being there with others who are hearing the same words take shape in the air before us, the story being painted in each of our minds simultaneously, laughing or gasping at the same time. For a few precious moments, those of us in the room put the rest of the world on hold and come together in the shared experience of story. 

I admit that I first thought of starting a new reading series for selfish reasons: I wanted to have a regularly-scheduled event in Rochester where I could go hear a range of work and voices. Luckily for me, another resident writer at The Yards, Geoff Graser, had a similar vision. As we met to discuss what we each wanted to see in a new series, we knew a key component was to create a series that could also help support The Yards—an amazing arts collective housed within the Public Market (with lovely studio and gallery space) that supports local artists and community members in so many ways, including an art lounge open to the public on Saturdays during Market hours. As an art collective largely created by visual artists, Geoff and I also had the goal to spread the word about The Yards to the writing community about all the goodness The Yards contains and brings. Art supports art! We’re all in this together. 

But what else? We started dreaming a little…

Inexpensive yet high caliber. Diverse voices from Rochester and beyond. Easy parking. Always a mix of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Time-boxed! Wine and niblets… 

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… and out of the fog a specific vision emerged into what we now call Flour City Readings at The Yards. This new bi-monthly series offers audiences the chance to hear exciting work from Rochester-area writers as well as from visiting authors. The curated format features four readers at each event, chosen specifically to include diverse voices in poetry, non-fiction, and fiction, with pieces that are riveting on their own and (we hope!) mesh or juxtapose with the other pieces to create a singular experience. 

Plus, the setting in the gallery at The Yards Art Collective is a great backdrop for a reading. Featured in a restored 1920s brick warehouse in the Rochester Public Market, its high ceilings, worn wood floors and exposed beams lend to a vibe I’ll call industrial-elegant. The intimate space offers nice acoustics (i.e., no steam wands screeching through a mocha latte right at the best part!). As a working gallery, often the reading takes place inside an existing visual arts exhibit—wonderful to browse during intermission and after! (And I do have a soft spot for the amazing creative space of The Yards, as my own little studio is tucked in the back…) 

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We decided to ask for an optional $2-3 donation at the door because we want each reading event to be accessible to everyone. But that said, any donations above and beyond are gratefully accepted, and go directly to supporting The Yards and Flour City Readings. (Niblets are free and donated by your hosts!)

If you’re a writer, we encourage you to submit work to us, as we’re always looking for new voices. There’s something that transforms in us as artists when we read our work aloud. It’s one thing to be published on paper or online, but that still creates a singular experience between writer and reader. But to read your work in front of a live audience brings it alive in a new and exciting way.

Link to submissions (scroll to bottom of page):

http://theyardsrochester.com/programming

Our next Flour City Reading is Saturday, July 13 at 7:30 (doors open at 7 p.m.). We have an exciting line-up, including Stephen J. West, an essayist published in Brevity, Fugue, and PANK: Rachel Hall, author of an award-winning collection of linked stories; Aceyon Owens, slam poet and award-winning actor and director; and visiting poet Katherine Lazarus, who holds an MFA from Bennington College comes to us from Middlebury, Vermont. 


Call me by my title: Am I an Artist?

Somewhere along the line I stopped referring to myself as an artist. I felt uncomfortable with people calling my studio space an “artist studio.” I referred to myself as a maker, which is a term I stole from my woodworker boyfriend.

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It’s not that I never was an artist, or was always uncomfortable with the term. In high school and early college I mostly was an oil painter and identified a lot with being a fine artist. I painted not only life studies but also spilled my feelings about a trauma I had experienced at 17 out onto canvas. For months I felt like I just dripped oil paintings out of my body, bleeding out and coping with paint. These paintings are what got me into the best design school in the USA, and I moved to New York at 18 to “be an artist.”

In New York, going to Parsons, I discovered an ethereal light around those who identified as “fine artists” and not just designers. I struggled to declare a major after my first two semesters, swaying back and forth between fine art and illustration. Fine artists were thoughtful, curious, and experimental people, and I felt if I couldn’t push the boundary of art itself I would never be a successful “fine artist.” See? even here I keep writing “fine artist” in quotations because the definition of it is so swiftly changing. Chameleon like, shifting definition from person to person. I don’t even feel comfortable defining artistry and I went to school for it.

I chose to major in illustration. I loved my time as an illustration major and at the time I absolutely reveled in being called an illustrator. I loved being associated with children’s books and comics, two of my favorite things. However, college was difficult on my mental health. I scraped my way out of my depressive mood swings by picking up a job at Purl Soho, a knitting and fabric store in Soho. I had become convinced in my depression that my illustration skills weren’t good enough, and if I wasn’t even the best illustrator in my graduating class, I would never be able to support myself as a freelancer. Spoiler alert: I graduated in 2015, and just now in 2019 I’m starting to rekindle my love of illustration again. Once you take the pressure off to be a Professional IllustratorTM you can actually take the time to make good stuff.

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As I was graduating in 2015 I had a bit of a rebellious moment: Oh, did I just get this expensive BFA in Illustration? That’s funny, because i’m a SEAMSTRESS NOW. I sparked joy by distracting myself from the pressure of using my degree by sewing garments and quilts. It’s still my preferred hobby.

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Here’s where we really start struggling with labels. There’s no really good term to call yourself when you make garments for yourself. Seamstress connotes that you alter other people’s clothing, and fashion designer has a glamorous aftertaste. I was making clothes from patterns, posting them on the internet, and bonding with other people doing the same. The sewing community coined the term “sewists” which works pretty well but it’s not widely known and autocorrects often to sexists, which is annoying as balls.

After moving back to Rochester and sewing on the side, I flopped around with labels and professions. After everyone told me I was a fashion designer I decided to try being a fashion designer, and I hated it. I had a children’s accessory line which I also hated. I flopped all over the city like a confused salmon, just trying to make things and hope people liked them.

About a year ago I started making banners out of canvas and felt and I really enjoyed it. I changed my business name and started peddling my wares at local craft shows. At the time I was making these banners out of the studio apartment my boyfriend and I shared and it clearly was not working. I decided to pursue a studio space where I could make these banners and also continue to sew garments. Luckily for me, a spot just my size opened up at the Yards in December of 2018.

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I love the Yards a lot, but it’s starting to give me a complex about the title of “artist.” We have monthly resident meetings where we meet and discuss the space and upcoming events, but we also recap what we’ve been working on and our successes of the month. At first I was like “Ah yes, you are all fine artists and I, a plebeian, make products for the masses to consume.” but slowly I’ve started to rethink my position on this. The title of “artist” isn’t as black and white as I used to think it was. You can be an artist and make things to sell. You can be an illustrator and not be working in the business. You can be a lot of things, I think. All at the same time.

Learn more about Mary and visit her website!

Welcome, June 2019 Residents!

During the month of June, selected participants will be embarking on a collaborative journey with the goal of enhancing their own practice and the practices of others. The Yards Collaborative Residency program is upon us, beginning on June 5th and coming to a close with a “First Friday” showcase on July 12th (Rescheduled due to the Holiday). This month, we are proud to host six talented artists in their collaborative exploration.

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Artists in residence will be able to draw from each other’s practices for guidance and inspiration in order to create a month-long body of work. Not only will they be able to utilize the creative minds around them, but it will also be important for their own knowledge and experience in their artistic practice to be shared and considered among their colleagues. In addition to collaboration with each resident, either in ideation or in physical practice, residents will be able to work with our team of permanent studio renters and community members. They will receive studio visits from local guest critics, and in turn make their own gallery visits in the Rochester area. At the conclusion of the month, our June residents will have gathered the resources to create something new and inspired, with the option to exhibit this work at their own exhibit in our gallery space.

Here is a look into the current practices of the six artists who will participate in the June Collaborative Residency:


Megan May

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Megan May is a multi-media artist based in Southern California and New York City. Putting her own body and practice at the heart of the work, May utilizes psychologically engaging tools like meditation, kundalini yoga and body movement practices to confront the interplay between physical and energetic facets of human embodiment.

“Moving away from object-oriented art-making into a performance-based practice I am a conduit for the experience. I build through daily personal practice, prayer, and communion with the moon and the elements. My attunement to the intelligence of non-human aspects of our reality informs my movements, my symbols, and my installation space. Drawing on esoteric knowledge, wisdom teachings of various traditions, depth psychology, psychoanalysis, somatic therapy, critical race, gender and sexuality theory, and feminist writings on women’s spirituality I bring a wealth of knowledge and insight.”

Instagram: @the_creative_cycle



Terri Zebrak

Instagram: @terrizebrakdesigns

Instagram: @terrizebrakdesigns

Terri Zebrak was born in Arizona, but has spent most of her life various regions of the U.S. as well as a few years abroad. The artist currently resides in Fairport, New York with her husband and three children. Her work is influenced greatly by her family. She has earned degrees in Literature, Education, and Graphic Design/Studio Art and recently left teaching to pursue a career in art.

On her artist statement, “I don’t quite know what it is. I suppose it all stems from fear…the fear of time. Time, the juggernaut, is an unstoppable force that can never be conquered. My art reflects my fear of time. I paint peaceful moments that can be cherished or distorted by memory.”


Adair Finucane

Adair clams to be prone to using whatever media is on hand to depict her subject matter--but is partial to watercolors in small dimensions. She finds a sense of accomplishment in making small pieces that can be finished quickly, preferring to make art for herself rather than for a larger statement.

“I like to paint animals. I've been joking for a while that when I finally have an art show, that will be my artist statement. But really, I like to paint animals. In addition to creative energy, I try to channel…attention to detail into my artwork. My process is less about making a statement than it is about making time for myself and creating.”

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Instagram: @yoga_adair


Karrah Teague

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From painting to tattooing, Karrah is an artist of many practices. Walking a line between minimalism and abstraction, Karrah’s work lends to tensely balanced outcomes of colorful, morphing shapes.

“The immediacy and texture of acrylics allow me to slash and jab about the canvas, physically navigating the space between intuition and purpose. I rarely paint without a concept in my head, but it’s often so ambiguous that the only way to carry on that conversation is visually. Continuing or attempting to resolve the intangible internal is what drives most of my work.”

Instagram: @the_grim_weeper


Taylor Mica Kennedy

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Taylor primarily uses pastel drawing as her medium to create portrait or scene based works, to capture the memory, humor, satire and melancholy found within family dynamics. Taylor’s use of illustrative marks, pattern, unusual perspective and rawly crafted figures depicts the day-to-day in an attempt to convey and capture the cyclic behaviors and routines of people.

“Moving home has been a story within itself, and my quest during the residency is to ground myself artistically using the duality of knowing two very different places (Upstate, NY and NYC) in my practice. I returned home to have my practice be at the center of my life again.”

Instagram: @taylor_mica_kennedy


Emily Harper

Instagram: @emmalaurharper

Instagram: @emmalaurharper


Emily has been working on and off as a geologist and alpine ski tech while making time to travel and create art for the last decade. Emily is generally self taught, though draws much of her practice from inspiration of other artists. She incorporates repetition of basic graphic elements and color gradation into surreal or geometric landscapes and portrait-like images of plants and other circular forms.

Creating has been a long time meditative practice for Emily, branching from freehand ink mandalas into further explorations of shape, color, and repetitious patterns navigating the wiry world of adulthood and gathered life experiences. Patterns and shapes found in the earth and in foreign landscapes seep into compositions along with jarring, saturated color schemes.

Bring Back the Mixtape: A Remedy for Creative Block by Christie Nesbit

I can’t imagine my art practice and my studio without music. Music in the background, music in my headphones, or music left lingering in my mind. Much as food is the sustenance of life, music is the sustenance of creativity.

My first and most special music memories come from my late aunt. A textile artist, she was always hunting for the next great album to play in her studio. I can remember rolling down the highway with her singing and adding percussion with the shakers she stored in her cup holders. She taught me the significance of lyrics, their meaning, and the instrumentation so carefully paired.

Not only was my aunt always on the hunt for beautiful music, but she felt it was important to “gift” music. That is, to share her discoveries. We always spoke at length about what we were listening to. I can still remember when we shared excitement over the new artist we had both discovered: Amy Winehouse.

Beyond vocalizing her new discoveries, she gave physical gifts of music. She was known for her carefully curated mixtapes with beautiful covers she had designed. And, at Christmas, she would send family and friends her favorite album of the year.

This tradition left an impression on me. How simple to share something that you love, that is making you happy, that is feeding your creativity with those you love? A timeless, meaningful gift.

After her passing, my partner and I decided to try our hand at making mix CDs for loved ones. I’ve found it’s not only emotionally rewarding, but a great way to push through a creative block. Crafting a mix CD will push your mind into different creative tasks. It will stretch your right-brained muscles as you problem solve:

  • Choosing the music: For a lover? For a group of friends? Do you want them to dance or be in awe of the lyrics? Do you want them to remember a specific time or trip?

  • Track order: Once you’ve chosen the songs, it takes consideration to order them appropriately. You will be contemplating transitions, the mix of fast versus slow, total length, and a possible hidden track. This is an art form in and of itself – not a step to be missed!

  • Album title: Here’s your chance to be witty as heck and name your first album! Think about the content, the audience, and occasion.

  • Album art: Armed with your album title, think outside the box and design the album cover. This is a perfect opportunity to experiment! Try a new technique, process, and/or materials you’ve been considering using in your visual art. I’ve used photography, printmaking, and most recently, collage.

  • Track listing: Give credit where it’s due! A track listing allows your recipients to dive deeper into artists of tracks in which they fall in love. Make sure you measure twice and cut once so that your insert fits.

These are tasks which most visual artists are not familiar with practicing. It gets the creative juices flowing in a rewarding, fun way. Also, you’ll feel warm and fuzzy giving the gift of music!

Here are a few examples of mix CDs we’ve made over the years:

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Interactive Storyteller, Community Activist and Artist Ray Ray Mitrano

An Interview with Ray Ray Mitrano written by Lisa Rickman

Ray Ray’s signature portraits.

Ray Ray’s signature portraits.

Interactive storyteller, community activist and artist Ray Ray Mitrano loves to participate in community-centered events, performances, workshops and group exhibitions. Whether it’s drawing, animation, education, performing, videography or multi-media, he loves making interaction and participation the focal point of his work. Ray Ray truly embraces collaborative improvisation and has brought that exciting energy to The Yards. He was kind enough to be interviewed for you wonderful blog readers.

“Rochester is in a moment where it can go a lot of different directions, especially within its arts communities,” says Ray Ray. “I think now is the time to collectively shape it into a sustainable and accountable future.”

He says he finds the most satisfaction out of working with people in his neighborhood, especially on issues that affect them the most.

“Working in context with the people in my neighborhood and the groups, businesses, and issues surrounding our local environment is what makes my arts practice meaningful,” he says. “If my work is without social connection then it can only go so far in what I need it to be. I need it to be part of my relationships with people. It needs to lead to something else I didn't expect.”

Social commentary on New York State’s closed two-party Presidential Primaries.

Social commentary on New York State’s closed two-party Presidential Primaries.

During his masters program with the Visual Studies Workshop Ray Ray explored civics through art over the course of the 2016 US Election campaigns. During a series of performance demonstrations on the sidewalk in front of the Monroe County Board of Elections he challenged them to address NYS’s closed primary system.

“How do we grow diverse candidates to harvest in the fall when the spring planting lacks everyone's seeds?” he asks. “What hinders the cultivation of elected representation? Why can't I vote in my tax-payer funded elections?”

If he could organize an event with anyone, Ray Ray says he would love to organize an event with the Monroe County Board of Elections to “creatively 'placemake' election culture throughout the city.”

Ray Ray creating a portrait for one of his favorite clients, Olive.

Ray Ray creating a portrait for one of his favorite clients, Olive.

He encourages group activity more than anything, especially if you find something you’re struggling with, from civic action to simple play. Ray Ray tells us to start by finding a group of people you want to do things with. "’We do by doing’" he says, quoting one of his college professors.

“Once you have people you can trust and experiment with in a safe space, you'll find all sorts of creative approaches to working playfully,” he says.” Come to the Yards Lounge weekly Saturdays and we can try out some things at the paper crayon table!” Or, weather provided this summer, perhaps sidewalk chalk while we talk?

Ray Ray says his favorite Yards portraits session so far was with a toddler he was drawing who was simultaneously drawing him, while someone else was drawing both of them! “It's great when everyone is doing something with each other and by themselves at the same time” he says.

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Currently, Ray Ray is based in Rochester, NY and for hire as a documentary illustrator of events, all-ages art workshops, creative activism, promotional design media, and stop-motion animating.

He is also one of the founding visionaries behind the Artist Sustainability Survey (@ass.roc on Instagram, podcasts available at www.mixcloud.com/assroc). Together with Gary Crocker and Reb Ayse they ask local artists of all crafts important questions about work, pay, and the sustainability of working artists in Rochester.

Come find him Saturdays at The Yards during Saturday’s public market hours, 10am-2pm, get your picture drawn and have some great conversation.

Please check out Ray Ray’s website to learn more about the artist and his work at www.rayraymitrano.com.

Three Reasons Why Instagram is an Amazing Tool for Artists

Three Reasons Why Instagram is an Amazing Tool for Artists

by Molly Elizabeth aka The Darling Rage

I started posting art on my Instagram only three years ago, and it was out of a place of desperation. Not desperation for likes or a following, or anything that you may be thinking. I posted to Instagram because I needed a way to pull myself up out of darkness. Art was that thing, and Instagram was the vehicle for accountability to myself.

As a young mother fresh into a second round of postpartum depression, I had committed myself to making something for at least 2-5 minutes a day for the rest of the year. Because I had a history of struggling with long commitments, I knew I needed an external way to keep myself going and making. So I decided to post to Instagram. Not for anyone else but me, and as a way to visually congratulate myself that I had made something new that day. I had no idea how much it would end up growing, or that I would be able to start selling my work professionally (later on) as a direct result of showing up on Instagram.

I posted my first picture on March 17, 2017 - the start of something new. From that point on, I have grown immensely as an artist and a person, and made the most amazing connections all over the world through this platform. It wasn’t just because of my work, it was because I started showing up and sharing my story. I’ve learned a ton along the way, so today I just want to give you three reasons why I love this tool so much as an artist, and how it can serve you too.

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1. People don’t buy art, they buy artists - in a world of social connection, people have literally endless options at their fingertips all the time. They can buy anything they want at the click of a button, yet some of them choose to buy ART from me. This was shocking to me when it first started happening… but what I realized is that they weren’t necessarily just buying the art I was putting out their for its quality (that’s another discussion for another day) but because they were identifying with my story. They were getting to know me as another human, and they cared about me. Think about your own buying habits… aren’t you much more likely to support a store, cause, person… who you KNOW, LIKE, and TRUST? Someone you believe in? Someone who is open about themselves and their experiences? Social media can be challenging sometimes, but it is also amazing because of its endless capacity to connect us in ways we never have been able to connect before, across miles! Speaking of connections - you are also connected to galleries and brands around the world who are looking for artists to work with, which brings me to reason #2…

2. Social media is an opportunity to have a digital portfolio - Think about what artists had to do to get their work out there in the past. Not that long ago, if you were an artist and you wanted gallerists and other people to see your work, you would have to physically bring it to them. As in, carry your pieces, or photos of your pieces, to those people. You’d have to reach out and it took a lot more steps than it does now, thanks to social media. Now, all you have to do is start putting yourself out there digitally. You can post a picture of a painting you’ve just finished, or better yet, of you’re creative process… and immediately you’re able to invite people from all over the world into your studio for a first hand look at what you have to offer. Brands and galleries are all on social media too, and Instagram is the perfect opportunity to show off your work without ever leaving the couch. In fact, I had a gallery in North Carolina reach out to me several years ago when I was still pretty new to all this because he liked what he saw and wanted to include me in a group show - which he did. Pretty rad, right?

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3. You can find your people - Instagram presents a very real opportunity for your to connect with real humans from all over the world. People that you would never have access to otherwise. Almost everyone is connected by the internet now, which means that it doesn’t matter how weird you are (the weirder the better, actually!) you can find people who resonate with you and your work. Is it as easy as just posting something and expecting them to come to you? No. Instagram like everything else has a learning curve and requires intentionality and strategy. The good news is, you’re not alone in this journey.

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This Wednesday, April 10, I will be teaching my workshop “Creating a Digital Presence as an Artist” at The Yards - 7-8:30pm. Not only will I be going much more in depth with you about all the reasons you should be using Instagram for your art, I will also be taking you step by step through strategies that I have used in the past three years to show up authentically, share my voice, and grow my group of darling ragers. (I’m on Instagram as @TheDarlingRage if you need proof)

I love Instagram. It has been a tool to connect me to so many amazing humans and opportunities, and I’m so excited to show you more about it. Grab your ticket and join us! And reach out to me on social media - I’d love to chat!

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Instagram: @TheDarlingRage

Email: darlingrage@gmail.com

Twitter: @heydarlingrage

Facebook: The Darling Rage


Reflections on the Residency with M. Victoria Savka

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This past month at the Yards was so fruitful!  Quite literally the first week was spent stretching my hibernated watercolor muscles by painting tangerines. The fruits were just stepping stones into a grove of forgotten ideas.  As I stretched my arms, I had to stretch my mind.  For multiple years I had focused narrowly on a specific group of work and my mind was uneasy and unprepared for something new.  Where were my ideas!? 

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To tell you the truth, they usually sit and live either on small scraps of paper in various folders, or somehow they float about in my mind, usually held down by a single string.  If I do not jot them down within the minute they have more than likely floated away.  So I quickly turned to those ideas I had recorded.  Within a plastic folder I found a collection of journals from 2015.  They aren't exactly your typical school grade journal, but rather a collection of various illustrations.

For the past three years I have been 'journaling', but in a more abstract manner.  I have been jotting down succinct words or phrases that describe a day, an experience, or an idea that I wish to remember.  From there I created maps, or small illustrations reflecting those notes.  They have become what I call now, "Mind Mappings".  They are small glimpses into cherished moments, salty memories, or merely nostalgic thoughts that bring a smile to my face.  These journals give me time to reflect and dissect events. They help me understand how I've grown and changed from those experiences. They are mind maps full of abstracted memories and feelings. 

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During this past month of reflection I completed many of these Mind Mappings that had not yet been completed since I jotted down my thoughts.  Refreshed by this breeze of nostalgia I began to consider less about the past, but more of the present.  Where I was, right then and there!

As January had become a month of reflection I decided to create a series of six drawings based on this month. Each focuses on a specific part of this past month and its importance to me.  By considering my many actions, ideas, and choices I reflect how they shape the course of my life.  I asked myself many questions:  How can minute details can shape you?  What about your 'routine' can influence your outlook in life?  Do you enjoy the small pleasures in life?  What are they?  "Write them down, Victoria!" my brain shouted!  Thus I created a lively abstracted collection of January.  I have continued reflecting into the month of February and have been planning on reflect much more as this year progresses.

I am so grateful to having the opportunity of being part of the Yards Residency program.  The A-I-R has given me time to reset my brain in order to pursue a new group of work.  Being part of the Yards has provided me space, time, and a community that helped me to brainstorm and bounce my ideas.

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Reflections on the Residency with Charity 'CAKE' Hamidullah

On the road to Residencies (Excerpt)

Leading up to my first artist residency I had a million and one things I wanted to create. I was reading blog posts about how to execute them well. It was clear to me that I was going to make my presence known with precise execution. But, life said differently.

For those who are unaware. An artist residency is a time where a creative can focus on their craft. Residencies can be a month to a year; maybe even longer. Most residencies give one to opportunity to have access to studios and supplies. While others may provide housing to the artist while they create. This description is just the tip of the iceberg because they truly can be artistically extravagant.

On January 2, 2019 I returned to the gallery I was interning at . For the prior month I was warmly welcomed into this collaborative artist studio space called The Yards. Never have I been in a space where the egos were dropped and their hearts were wide open with art on their mind. This was everything I hoped for in a community.

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