Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Rochester Trip

Took a quick trip across the pond to Rochester, New York last week.  The weather was sort of craptastic (mostly cold and damp), but it was a really cool trip nonetheless.  Rochester is a tiny city, with lots of neat art deco/art moderne architecture.  The Kodak Building, the firehall on Chestnut Avenue and this old Chevrolet dealership (?) turned coffee shop in downtown Rochester's east end were highlights, for sure.

While I was there, I managed to take in a lot of art in both expected and unexpected places.  I went to the George Eastman House (Eastman was founder of Kodak, which is based in Rochester) which is a museum of photography and film situated in an old ivy-covered mansion.  There was an exhibition up which featured a number of photographic medallions from the early 20th Century such as the one above (scooped from the George Eastman House Flickr page).  There was another small exhibition called Ballyhoo, which focused on promotional materials and signage from the golden age of film and was particularly neat.  The one thing that irked me about Eastman House was it's lack of wayfinding information-- after leaving, we realized that we had missed two of the museum's exhibitions entirely.  Rats!

One of our other stops was the Rochester Contemporary Art Center, which had a great show up called Work It: Artists Address Labour and Unemployment.  It was nice to see pieces from Kathryn Clark's Foreclosure Quilt series up in this show, which I had only previously seen through images online.  Also got to meet the gallery's plucky Director, who introduced himself and chatted for a while.  Nice dude!  Don't think that's ever happened to me in Toronto...!

Our first night there, we ventured into the amazing abandoned Rochester Subway tunnel with the friend we were staying with armed with only a single flashlight and about $10 (goes a long way in the U.S.) worth of alcohol . Apparently people go down into the tunnel all the time to explore-- there was a ton of graffiti down there.  The above patch was particularly unusual.

This trip to Rochester made me miss Baltimore quite a bit, and reminded me how much smaller American cities have to offer.  Canadians generally want to go to places like New York City and San Francisco on vacation-- understandably so, but smaller American cities seem to really have their own unique identity and a slew of neat things to check out that can be found pretty easily.  I'm looking forward to going on more quick and dirty trips like this just south of the border in the future-- next up is Detroit, hopefully.

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