WXXI AM News

Memorial Art Gallery

WXXI TV

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

Randy Gorbman / WXXI News

An artist well known not only in Rochester, but around the world, has a new exhibit which opens Sunday at the Memorial Art Gallery. 

The show is called “Wendell Castle Remastered”, and it features around 40 works of art  from Wendell Castle, a master furniture maker and sculptor who is now in the 6th decade of his career. The show is in a renovated space at the MAG.

The Memorial Art Gallery is exploring new ways to create provocative portraits of subjects, and in its current exhibition, it’s using video. The MAG is partnering with renowned video artist Charles Atlas on a video installation called “Here she is...v1,” featuring iconic drag performer Lady Bunny.

We discuss the exhibit and talk about the impact of the moving image. Our guests:

  • Charles Atlas, film and video artist
  • Jonathan Binstock, director of the Memorial Art Gallery
  • John Hanhardt, consulting senior curator of media arts at the Memorial Art Gallery
  • Douglas Crimp, professor of art history at the University of Rochester

Born In the USA is perhaps one of the most misunderstood songs in American history. This week, we've heard several radio stations play it as an homage to American greatness at the Olympics. Someone should tell them the song is about how awful our country was to Vietnam veterans.

But that has us wondering: what are the most mistaken or misunderstood pieces of art across the genres? From music to painting to poetry to literature, our panel tells us where we're routinely going wrong. (We're looking at you, Guy With the Road Not Taken Poster.) Our guests:

We have a packed house as we discuss a number of artistic endeavors from the Rochester scene.

We open with a discussion of Year One, the exhibit that showcases the first year of images from Explore Rochester. Explore Rochester gives local artists - and people who live and work in our community - the chance to show a different perspective of Rochester every week. Our guests:

Then we turn our focus to the Memorial Art Gallery, discussing current exhibits, a community scavenger hunt, and more. Our guests:

You probably know that former President Bill Clinton plays the saxophone, but did you know that Angelina Jolie is a skilled knife thrower? And that Pierce Brosnan eats fire and was hired by a circus? And how about former President George W. Bush? He was a cheerleader in high school.

These are just a few special talents of celebrities and politicians, but what about people in our own community? Rochester’s doctors, accountants, and college presidents moonlight as musicians, beekeepers, and quilters. Projectionists write plays, professors restore cars, and optical engineers invent hot sauce.

We spend the hour talking to some of these people and learning about their talents and hobbies. They are part of a continuing speaker series at the Memorial Art Gallery called Hidden Passions. You can apply to speak about your hidden passion here. Our guests:

First hour: Hidden Passions Series at the Memorial Art Gallery                                                                                                              Second hour: The rise, fall, and rediscovery of silent film star, Louise Brooks

On this edition of Need to Know Rochester:

  • Rochester area school district rankings are now out. It turns out some districts ranked higher than people might have expected given their socioeconomic standing. We look at what’s working for these districts and discuss the impact of poverty on education.
  • Artist Tom Otterness shares the vision behind his installation at the Memorial Art Gallery’s Centennial Sculpture Park.
  • Famed sculptor Albert Paley and his team make finishing touches to the 13 original pieces being installed on Park Avenue in New York City this weekend.

Carlet Cleare

An annual Rochester film series - aiming to dispel the stigmas of mental illness - expands this year including artwork by artists suffering from mental health problems.

The Reel Mind Film Series at the Memorial Art Gallery will feature 50 pieces of artwork from the Mental Health Association's Creative Wellness Coalition. Veronica Weider is the director of the coalition. She says melding the art exhibit with the film series would help eliminate misconceptions and fears about mental illnesses.