A bank is not often associated with art. The former First National Bank in Downtown Rochester, however, was home to students’ and community members’ paintings, photographs, installations, bands and so much more at ArtAwake 2010. In fact, the building itself is an exhibit of art with its magnificent marble columns, enormous vaults and decorative murals lining the ceiling.

The combination of scenery and its proximity to UR made the abandoned bank an ideal venue for the event.

The first room that attendees entered hosted the main stage for the musical acts. Various artwork was displayed around the room, though it served more as an area to congregate, socialize, eat and listen to music.

Also in the first room were some smaller spaces for installation artwork such as senior Faeeza Masood’s ‘Flutter by Butterfly.” In this area, guests were encouraged to write their worries on the wall. For each concern, Faeeza explained she would create a paper butterfly. She does the same with her own apprehensions it helps her cope seeing them carried away with the flight of a butterfly. In such a chaotic world and amidst the stresses encountered on a daily basis, the opportunity to be part of such an art form was relieving and fascinating.

Both downstairs as well as just past the main room, smaller areas exhibited photography, digital art and even a create-your-own music station where pipes, glasses and bins were available for banging and clashing in any sort of rhythmic and melodic fashion. Keeping photographs near photographs and paintings near paintings helped to give each piece of artwork the attention it deserved, without another piece of a completely opposite nature diverting attention from it.

‘Intermission,” a photograph taken by freshman Chelsea Yalen, displayed a deserted, torn-apart theater. Just walking by such a theater, it might have been difficult to see the beauty in it, but Yalen found a wonderful angle that brilliantly drew attention to the ripped curtains and chipped wood. She also skillfully used a lighting scheme that highlighted those details but also added to the tone of that barren setting.

Junior Sam Sadtler’s artwork depicted a man whose name may be assumed to be Dan Fogelberg, the title of the piece. The man held a rifle, and was slightly transparent, with a more faded image directly behind. Sadtler excellently captured the shadows in the background and was able to create a very eerie picture. The photo was slightly haunting, inducing chills up and down the spine. However, the generated feelings proved that Sadtler was able to translate a desired emotion to his audience.

Apart from what is typically viewed as an art form, Ben Undelson, from Pittsford, N.Y., mixed text and design to display writing in the form of a poster. These pieces uniquely showed not only how various forms of writing could be transformed into an applied art, but also how text itself is a tool that can be used to enhance the viewing experience of certain works. Undelson chose the right color combinations, fonts and background designs to lure guests in and help them imagine, in great detail, the experiences he aimed to share through writing.

Also, in two other spaces throughout the building were stages for musical groups to perform. With a setup containing more than one stage, there was never a dull moment, as the music continued to flow throughout the bank.

Directstep, one of the many performance groups at ArtAwake, played on the WRUR stage and brought a lot of energy to the air through their covers of funk, soul and rock music. The room was packed, and concertgoers danced with much enthusiasm, enjoying every emanating note. Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition” was a crowd favorite, and it highlighted every band member’s talent during each instrument’s solo.
Even though the bands were only allowed a certain amount of time to perform, the crowed demanded an encore, and there was just enough time for Directstep to add Gavin Degraw’s ‘Chariot” to the set list.

ArtAwake is much more than a display of artwork it is a social scene and a culmination of magnificent talents. It’s a shame that the event shared the date with the Midnight Ramblers, because they always put on a show worth seeing. However, the approximately 1,400 attendees, 21 bands and multitude of contributing artists proved that ArtAwake is never an event to be missed.

Seligman is a member of the class of 2012.

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