WXXI AM News

Art

Students from Genesee Community Charter School have teamed up with a local artist on a mural project to better understand Rochester’s neighborhoods. The ROC Believers join us to share what they learned about poverty, gentrification, and urban revitalization in our city.

In studio:

  • Natalia Barone, sixth grader at Genesee Community Charter School
  • Zack Nur, sixth grader at Genesee Community Charter School
  • Alexi Stubbe, sixth grade teacher at Genesee Community Charter School
  • Shawn Dunwoody, Rochester artist and designer

A new art series called "At the Crossroads: Activating the Intersection of Art and Justice" is exploring themes of racial justice. One of the installations is called "Black Magic Slays the Magical Negro." What is the Magical Negro? The concept, largely credited to Spike Lee, describes one black character in art or film that is designed as a savior – saving white people or the white race. The concept shows up in politics too; recent calls for Oprah and Michelle Obama are examples.

This hour, we discuss the concept, and how the art series can spark community conversations. Our guests:

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An iconic figure in the art world, both in Rochester and around the world has died.

Wendell Castle died in his Scottsville home on Saturday. That word came Sunday morning from RIT, where Castle was an artist in residence. He was 85 years old.

Wendell Castle was an artist for more than 60 years and is considered a founder of the American Crafts and Art Furniture movements. More than 100  of his works are installed in museums worldwide, and up until recently, was still innovating in his studio in the Rochester area.

Are you missing a portrait of an ancestor? Or maybe a dulcimer? How about a colonial South American bookstand? They might be at the Memorial Art Gallery (MAG)! More than 600 mystery items are waiting to be claimed at the MAG. They aren’t part of the museum’s collection and the MAG’s curators don’t know how they ended up there, despite years of analysis. So now, the MAG is asking for your help, and it’s invoking a new state law that helps museums manage undocumented items.

We talk about a handful of those items, we explore their possible origins, and we’ll discuss what could happen to them next. Our sleuths in studio: 

  • Jess Marten, curator in charge, and curator of American art at the Memorial Art Gallery
  • Kerry Schauber, curatorial research assistant at the Memorial Art Gallery
  • Nancy Norwood, curator of European art at the Memorial Art Gallery

"Her Voice Carries" is an art project led by Sarah C. Rutherford and features the unique stories of five women who are working and living in varying communities in Rochester. Each woman is photographed, interviewed, drawn, and painted. The project culminates in a final series of murals located throughout the five sections of the city with the intention to create a network of murals that weave a collective story.

We hear from some of the women featured in the project. Our guests:

  • Sarah C. Rutherford, muralist
  • Imani Olear, founder of Yoga For A Good Cause, and pastor at Reformation Lutheran Church who is featured in a mural in the Center City
  • Safi Osman, founding member of Refugees Helping Refugees who is featured in a mural in the Southwest Quadrant
  • Maribel Hernandez, painting assistant for Her Voice Carries

Artist Laural Hartman recently invited WXXI into her studio. As we know with art, there’s generally a deeper meaning behind a painting, drawing or sculpture. With Hartman’s work, we’re awakened to a life experience with several layers - some of which resonate with many of us and others we’ve never encountered until now.

Hartman, also a faculty member at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf joins Tabitha Jacques, Director of the Joseph F. and Helen C. Dyer Arts Center at RIT to explain what mainstream museums may not understand about the specialty of deaf art.

Are there some pieces of art that are universally considered great... but you just don't enjoy them? Of course there are. For Evan: most of Picasso's oeuvre. For Megan: The Beatles.

Brian Koppelman, co-creator of the hit series Billions, recently asked on social media for examples of great art that people just don't like very much. The answers sparked some heated debate, so we thought we'd recreate that discussion with our guests:

Is Billy Joel the worst pop artist of all time? Strange question, we know. But Slate writer Ron Rosenbaum wrote a piece, detailing two ideas. First, he explained why he believes Billy Joel is indeed the worst ever. Second, and more importantly, Rosenbaum makes the case for calling out bad art (of any genre) as a means to understanding what good art is. In other words, Rosenbaum pushes back against the idea that the only good art is whatever you like.

Is he right? And what's wrong with Allentown, anyway? Our guests:

  • John Covach, director of the Institute for Popular Music at the University of Rochester
  • Leah Stacy, media professor at Nazareth College and freelance theatre critic at City Newspaper

For Keturah Ariel, making art that inspires, uplifts and advocates for her community is a priority. When the artist had a hard time finding paintings and drawings of girls that reflected her - young women of color - she began creating the images herself. The result: a business for her passion that empowers young girls.

On this edition of Need to Know, we’ll learn about Ariel’s story from PBS affiliate WOSU. We’ll also talk with Rochester artist Johnnie Lee Smith who says African American and Hispanic youth not only need to see images of themselves reflected in art, but also need to see artists who look like them. 

The art community has a role in helping all of us deal with turbulent times. That means different things to different people, of course, but right now in Rochester, that concept is on display: at the Memorial Art Gallery; in theaters; in dance communities like Borinquen. The theme for Borinquen's upcoming event is "Together We Dance / United We Soar." At the MAG, Jonathan Binstock says, "Art connects us all across time and geography," and he believes current exhibits exemplify this.

Our guests:

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