The Urban Exploring Club here on campus is an organization that travels through Rochester and explores some of the overlooked treasures in the city. One of its trips even included visiting Rochester’s abandoned subway system. Yes, at one point in time Rochester did have a subway system.

This past weekend, the Urban Explorers revealed yet another jewel of the Rochester community: Station 55. Early on in its life Station 55 was an active train station, but more recently it has been used as a home for artists and a venue for local vendors to sell food and goods in connection with the Rochester Public Market. On Friday, Station 55 served as the venue for ArtAwake.

ArtAwake was an event to recognize and celebrate the amazing artistic talent in the Rochester area and to expose the greater Rochester community to art being made in the city. It was co-sponsored by community organizations such as Java’s Caf and House of Guitars, as well as many UR organizations. The day was a phenomenal way for students to escape the campus and realize what people are doing outside of the UR bubble.

Aristophanes, an ancient Greek dramatist, said, “Let each man exercise the art he knows,” and ArtAwake took that to heart. The event showcased a wide range of art, from performance art and photography to paintings. There was a little bit of everything, and each of the 1,142 people who attended the event could find something of interest.

One of the displays consisted of two photographs of a little boy eating ice cream. The message behind the photographs was about enjoying life. It was refreshing to be reminded that we should put more energy toward appreciating those single moments of eating ice cream (or drinking a Hillside smoothie if you are lactose intolerant).

However, if photography was not your thing, you could definitely find something else there. There were paintings of famous cartoon villains with mustaches, a display of mannequins conveying different types of men: a blues man, a man of the hour and others. ArtAwake featured art of all kinds from artists such as Trish Ritchie, Anthony Simmons, Ariel Brown, Karla Cushman, Lizbeth Allen and Sarah Rutherford.

There was even a group of students performing art relating to the war in Iraq. There was also a station where you could make your own computer art on a wall with a laser and a place where you could anonymously write phrases on index cards.

ArtAwake featured music, as well. Local bands performed everything from rock to techno to Hawaiian folk songs from 4 p.m. until 2 a.m. Some of the groups included The Volta Trio, The Po’ Boy’s Brass Band, Strange Montgomery, The Nate Reit Trio, Matthew Witten and Baby Shiver’s Boutique. People were dancing or casually enjoying a free water or soda while having casual conversations with friends.

While there, one could also explore the market where local vendors were selling anything from jewelry and T-shirts to carrot cake and homemade lotion (which could be delivered).

Although ArtAwake was primarily an event to showcase Rochester talent, it was also an event that exposed students to the Rochester community. Station 55 especially proved to be a unique venue to view this type of art and music combination, rather than a typical art gallery with a string quartet perched in the corner.

“The Urban Exploring Club’s mission is to find creative ways of engaging students with the city of Rochester,” president of Urban Exploring Club and junior Carlin Gettliffe said.

“We’ve done that through outings to abandoned historic buildings around town, a city-wide scavenger hunt for incoming freshmen and now with ArtAwake. This sort of event wouldn’t have been possible without the amount of collaboration we had. There were a large number of different groups working on different parts of the project at any given time, and that’s a big part of the reason why the event ended up being so successful.”

Through ArtAwake, people were able to see art, listen to music, venture through a market and visit a very important landmark of Rochester – Station 55. People were able to experience different aspects of Rochester culture, allowing them to gain a greater understanding of this city that has become a home away from home.

Massie is a member of the class of 2011.

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