Painter Joe Guy Allard of Rochester sat in his tent at the Clothesline Festival on Sunday amidst his futuristic, neon paintings, bouncing his tie-dye clad toddler on his knee.
‘Rochester’s artist community is quiet and can go unnoticed sometimes,”Allard said, wiping drool from his son’s face. ‘But when you start looking for it, it’s surprisingly there.”
The festival ran Saturday, Sept. 6 through Sunday, Sept. 7. Tents (and not literal clotheslines) were scattered across the 17-acre M’T Bank parking lot in front of the Memorial Art Gallery on University Ave. Artists at the festival hailed predominantly from the Rochester-Buffalo area, but there were also artists from other areas as well.
Allard was one of the 400-plus artists to display his work at this past weekend’s festival. As a first-year exhibitor, Allard did not know what to expect, but he thought the Clothesline Festival was a positive experience. ‘I’d come back next year,” he said.
In fact, many artists do come back to the Clothesline Festival. Jane Stoddard, a watercolor painter from East Amherst, N.Y., has been coming to the Clothesline Festival for 15 years now.
‘I do exhibitions up and down the East Coast, but I always come back to the Clothesline Festival and Rochester,” Stoddard said.
Artwork appeared at every turn and in many different forms, including oil paintings, hand-blown glass sculptures, wood carvings, leather work and sterling silver.
The festival also featured live marauding musicians and food stands serving local Rochester favorites ranging from local coffee drinks to the region’s famous white hots. Belly dancers even made an appearance in between the artist tents.
The turnout for the event was a testament to the artist community in Rochester. Families, individuals, friends, youth and seniors alike all made an appearance to celebrate Rochester’s artists.
‘My husband and I have been coming to the Clothesline Festival for 10 years,” Rochester resident Amber Spack said. ‘[Some] of the best parts of the city are the summer festivals and arts.”
Despite good numbers, there seemed to be fewer people buying artwork. The pieces bought were generally smaller prints and several inexpensive items.
‘The economy and the weather are impacting sales at these festivals,” Stoddard said. ‘But the turnout and interest in the work is still there.”
And even as the rain started coming down late Sunday afternoon, festival-goers held their ground, staying under the shelter of artists’ tents or simply pulling out their umbrellas.
Rochester art advocates might be buying less, but it would take more than a little rain to keep them away for good.
Rochester artist Adrien Tucker echoed Stoddard.
‘It seems like every festival we’ve had this summer has hit a rainy day. But I guess the people of Rochester have learned to cope with that, and they come anyway,” Tucker said.
Tucker, a modern impressionist painter, hopes that the weather will improve for the next event on the artists’ festival agenda, rounding up the season.
This weekend, ARTWalk Alive! will be held on Sunday, Sept. 14 between noon and 4 p.m. on the intersection of University Ave. and Goodman St.
ARTWalk Alive! is a performance-based festival, where visual art is made on the spot. Tucker, for instance, will be painting an exhausting 10 works in four hours.
Rain or shine, the Rochester artist community continues to wholeheartedly support their festivals, in whatever form the summer months might take.
For more information about the artists, vendors, and exhibits at the Clothesline Festival, visit http://mag.rochester.edu/clothesline. For more information on ARTWalk Alive! visit http://www.rochesterartwalk.org.
Ryan is a member of the class of 2009.