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Two new artworks reflect connections, growth of the Goose

By Joanne Beck
Tree project at Goose
Artist David Burke witih his mural at The Goose in Oakfield.
Submitted photo

Two new art projects at the GOOSE Community Center in Oakfield are not just visual embellishments to the Main Street property, founder Susan Zeliff says.

They are embodiments of what the center stands for and has become. 

One is a mural based on a quote that Zeliff chose: “This I have learned from the shadow of a tree, that my influence may fall where I will never be.”

“It spoke to me a lot about our community center and the people that support it,” Zeliff said. “They’re helping people that they may never come into contact with.”

She commissioned artist David Burke, thanks to a grant through GO Art!, to paint the mural on an exterior wall of the center. It features a large grassy area with a tree’s shadow and the quote. 

The easy part was knowing what to do, Burke said. He used a scaffold for the piece measuring about 10 feet high and 40 feet wide. It took about 35 hours over the course of three or four trips to complete it with rollers and brushes.

What’s it like to have pedestrians and motorists going by observing your handiwork?
“It’s great, I love it. Several people in Batavia have been doing murals and all over the country,” he said. “Murals are coming back. It’s exposing people to art. I just like the idea of teaching and art. I really kind of enjoy turning people onto the idea that anybody can make art; anyone has the capacity for making any kind of art or music.”

Zeliff plans to apply for a GO Art! grant to bring in some art teachers, including Burke, for lessons, hopefully at the beginning of 2024, she said.

Those lessons will complement a host of activities, including chair yoga, which has doubled or tripled in attendance since first offered; a Family Fun Bingo night on the first and third Tuesdays of the month, drawing some 60 participants of all ages; a continuously growing food pantry that serves 80 to 90 families each month; a farm market that operates separately in the back of the building on Saturdays; and community room space that is rented out for special events. 

Zeliff has been turning to GO Art! more regularly with applications for grants, last year providing “different styles of art, an expressive kind of art,” she said, which featured Burke and Bill Shutt, who returned this year to provide the second latest piece of exterior artwork for the GOOSE at 33 South Main St.

Bill Shutt hands project
Artist Bill Shutt with his Connecting Hands project at The Goose.
Submitted photo

He and Zeliff loosely talked about how his piece could somehow represent the site, and the symbol of hands came to him.

“I asked her the reason for the GOOSE, and she said to connect the GOOSE to the community and to resources and to connect businesses, connect organizations, etc. So that kind of led me to thinking about handshakes, and we’ve seen some of the logos of the four interconnected hands, so that was where the thought process for this piece came from,” he said. “The shapes came from recycled material … so all the hands are different. The material is all different, again, trying to show that we’re all made up of different pieces, and different parts, and we can all connect together.

“Connecting hands, connecting communities is what the GOOSE is all about,” Shutt said. 

A mechanic and welder fabricator for many years, Shutt was used to “making stuff” from the odds and ends of motorcycle parts and other materials that were the remains from an old farm, he said. 

“A lot of it was stuff around the house or around the shop. I've tinkered with cars and motorcycles. Probably five or six years ago was the first time that I really made something that was an art piece, per se. And that started off with old pieces, parts, motorcycle parts and car parts that I made into some musical instrument-inspired pieces,” he said.

He has crafted stringed musical instruments and other creations  — including some metal sculptures on boxes depicting the inequity of humanity outside of the GO Art! site in Batavia.

For the Oakfield project, he used galvanized tubing, stainless steel, chrome steel, motorcycle parts, and an old, high-pressure gas cylinder tubing. He appreciates using recycled materials and will be working on a project using part of an old Erie Canal lift bridge. 

Connecting hands is freshly tagged, so he hasn’t gotten a whole lot of feedback just yet, but “hopefully, the main message got across,” Shutt said. 

“If they see something positive out of it, it was a success,” he said. “It took about three months to complete. It was a lot of trial and error, a lot of R and D time, how I was going to make the hands, positions he hands. Sometimes the material dictates what you’re doing.”

Zeliff is pleased with both projects as an extension of yet continuing growth of the GOOSE center, which falls under the Warrior House program. Shutt’s artwork depicts one person standing with a “whole lot of hands behind them, and that’s my everyday,” she said. 

“I am very excited about all the activity that’s been happening within the community and just building relationships,” Zeliff said. “We do coffee hour on Wednesdays, and one year ago, it was me and one person, and now it’s two dozen people. It’s exciting to see the room become full.”

Connecting Hands project

GO ART! now accepting applications for 2024 SCR Program

By Press Release

Press Release:

Artists, nonprofits, and municipalities seeking funding for arts-related projects, programming, and events in Genesee and Orleans Counties are encouraged to apply to the Statewide Community Regrant Program (SCR) through GO ART!. Applications are due by Nov 1st.

Applicants can apply for up to a total of $5000 in the categories of Community Arts and Arts Education, and $2500 for Individual Artist Commissions.


Genesee and Orleans County nonprofit organizations, NYS incorporated nonprofits, agencies of local government (not New York State agencies), individual artists, groups or collectives, and unincorporated entities are eligible to apply.

  • Individual artists, groups or collectives, and unincorporated entities applying for the Reach (Community) and Spark (Education) grants must have a Fiscal Sponsor or Community Partner
  • Applicant, Community Partner, or Fiscal Sponsor must have a permanent address in the same county the project is taking place
  • Applicants must be 18 years of age at the time of submission and may not be enrolled in a full-time degree program Applicants are required to attend an informational seminar prior to applying. 2023 grantees are exempt from the seminar requirement but are encouraged to attend.

Upcoming Seminars:

  • Sept 18, Sept 25, Oct 2, & Oct 9 at 6:00pm, (virtual, Zoom)
  • Oct 10 at 6pm, (in person, GO ART! 201 E Main St, Batavia)

Peer Review Panel:

Grantees are chosen by a peer review panel comprised of community members who live and/or work in Genesee or Orleans Counties and are familiar with the arts, local cultural activities, and the community.

For more information, to view guidelines, apply, sign up for a workshop, or nominate a panelist visit: For questions contact Mary Jo Whitman at [email protected] or Jodi Fisher at [email protected].

Artist creates meditative tool for Batavia church, blessing ceremony Saturday

By Joanne Beck
Dan Butler with labyrinth
Artist Dan Butler with his handmade labyrinth, a project commissioned by Batavia First Presbyterian Church, which will be having a blessing ceremony for the creation this Saturday.
Submitted photo.

Artist Dan Butler has worked on a variety of projects and mediums over the years, from murals on exterior brick walls, sunflowers on a silo, artwork on headstones, a propane tank, a Kitchen Aid mixer, wood barns, an American flag on the side of a garage, and the inside wall of a Harvester Avenue art project called The Harve.

Now he can add a labyrinth to his portfolio. 

Commissioned by Batavia First Presbyterian Church, it was much more of an undertaking than the Perry resident and business owner thought it would be.

“It was mainly figuring out what type of, like, I had no idea, and neither did Dr. Roula as far as what material that we needed to get, and we needed to find a source for it. And you know, we knew we wanted a big canvas, but what is it exactly called? How heavy is it? That kind of thing,” Butler said during an interview with The Batavian. “We eventually found a source and went with, I think, it was like a 13-pound duck cloth or something like that. And then, I had to come up with a design. We knew we wanted the seven-layer labyrinth design … when you actually see the labyrinth, it goes back on itself seven times. Well, there are seven rings anyway. And you can have all sorts of different things to it.”

Though that may have seemed the tough part, it was the easier task, compared to actually working on the project, he said. He had to find a space large enough to accommodate the fabric — 18 feet tall by 18 feet wide, and it had to lay flat for him to paint, and then dry and remain there while he continued with the creation.

You may have seen a labyrinth outdoors, with a combination of paths or passages for one to navigate and focus on from entry to exit. These exist in parks and gardens as a series of mazes, though they can also serve as a spiritual or meditative journey to walk around the circles from beginning to end and back again.

Butler’s understanding of the labyrinth is that it’s a tool to help the participant to focus while walking from step to step — or in this case, painted brick by brick — which can be meditative and draw one’s focus to a central point. These tools are said to be metaphors for personal journeys into the self and back into the world. 

Butler designed the labyrinth in keeping with a church theme, using gray rustic bricks — “stone bricks, kind of like the old school cathedral kind of thing,” he said — for the path, and four stained glass designs, one for each corner. 

The church leadership had selected four words for those designs: faith, peace, trust and love. A colorful heart represents the love. 

Faith for labyrinth

“But the hardest part to all of this was finding a space big enough to work on it. So I ended up doing it out in the field at my sister-in-law’s and primed it that way. Like we did like three coats of white, just because it's like a duck cloth. It's just like a beige canvas,” he said. “Then I tried doing a projector to try to line up the artwork to it, but I couldn't get it right in everything.”

So he had to get a little more creative, and he moved the project over to his very newly purchased business site, Image Out Graphics in Perry. Purchased in July, he’s just getting his feet wet at the property and has ample space to spread out and work on his designs and hand-painted craft. 

If it seems simple enough to draw and paint seven circles and four corner designs, everything had to be aligned with the right width out from the center, and each stone properly placed for feet to walk it. Upon completion, Butler tested it out to make sure it worked.

“I walked it plenty of times,” he said. “You’re focusing on trying to make sure you’re following the path correctly. You’re so focused on the path, you don’t think about anything else. It kind of resets you.”

He used acrylic paints and a sealant to preserve his hard labor, about 40 hours total. In hindsight, it was “definitely not that easy,” he said, and took longer than he had estimated. 

With his new business, Butler, 47, now has two full-time jobs, he said. He also works for GLOW Creatives as a visual artist for the Arts Councils of Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming and Livingston counties. That involves him in drawing caricatures at a farmers market, leading a regular drink and draw at a Perry brewery, organizing activities at Medina’s Day of the Dead, and “all sorts of visual media,” he said. 

He has painted a mural outside of the GO Art! building in Batavia, and inside the kitchen for a culinary program, as well as participated in The Harve’s Mad Hatter, large baby, caterpillar, and Cheshire cat displays at 56 Harvester Ave., Batavia. 

That’s how he obtained this gig — GO Art! Executive Director Gregory Hallock recommended him to First Presbyterian Church, Butler said. He had no prior experience with labyrinths, but he can now chalk up another medium and type of project under his belt as being done. 

The Rev. Roula Alkhouri said the church will be celebrating the work, “which we hope to use in community events to help people pray or meditate through walking,” she said. “Dan did a great job with this project.”

There will be a blessing ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the church, 300 East Main St., Batavia. Everyone is welcome to attend, and “join us in thanking artist Dan Butler for the fabric labyrinth he created for our community,” Alkhouri said. “You will also have the chance to walk the labyrinth.” 

A first-time Family Festival will follow at 5:30 p.m.

Submitted photos.

Heart labyrinth
Peace labyrinth
Trust labyrinth

Family Festival a way to give back to community, organizers say

By Joanne Beck

Now that school has begun, some local organizations are throwing a celebratory event to kick off the season right, with an evening of art, food, fun activities, and music, organizers say.

Batavia First Presbyterian Church will be hosting the event in collaboration with St. James Episcopal Church, GO Art! and Genesee County Youth Bureau.

“We have put a lot of thought into how to create a fun and engaging atmosphere for families and children," Genesee County Youth Bureau Director Daniel Calkins said. “Although the church has done these types of events before, this is the first time this particular event will be taking place. Pastor Roula and her congregation have been very open about wanting to give back to the community, and this event is an extension of that."

The event is set for 5:30 to 7 p.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church, 300 East Main St., Batavia.

“This is a free event for anybody that would like to come and enjoy the activities provided in an intentional showing of communal love,” Calkins said. “The Youth Bureau is excited to continue to grow through these events and partnerships. We are continually invested into showing Genesee County residents that we care about them and their families and want them to have fun and be provided for.”

The evening will include hamburgers, hotdogs, and chips, and ice cream from the Ice Cream and Chill truck. The Youth Bureau will have a tent outside with a cotton candy machine and all its sticky sweetness, plus there will be a bounce house for children to enjoy, a T-shirt tie-dye station offered by GO ART!, and BDC rock painting.

After the kids get creative painting rocks, they will be placed around town, and then whoever finds 20 of them and takes pictures to post on social media (tagged on the back of the rocks), will get a gift card as a prize. 

Other activities will include an art spinning paint station, yard games, including corn hole, ring toss, basketball, and colorful chalks for kids to use in the church parking lot. Children will have the opportunity to create their own art, which will be framed and displayed at the church for the next month. 

There will also be live music throughout the evening during this family-friendly event, the Rev. Roula Alkhouri said.

“We are really excited to help families celebrate the beginning of the school year and hope that families will enjoy a fun community evening,” Alkhouri said.

The event is free and open to the public.

Works by internationally renowned artist, Cindy Sherman, to be exhibited at GO ART!

By Press Release
Submitted photo of Sundance Film Still Tray, 1978/2014, Collection of Gerald Mead © Cindy Sherman

Press Release:

Cindy Sherman: Works from the Gerald Mead Collection, will be on display at GO ART!, 201 E. Main Street in Batavia, October 4 – November 5th. A free, public reception will be held Oct 19, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Cindy Sherman is an internationally renowned artist whose ground-breaking photographs have examined themes around representation and identity in contemporary media for over four decades. Widely seen as one of the most important and influential artists in contemporary art, she gained recognition in the art world with her series of black-and-white photographs, “Untitled Film Stills” (1977–80). 

A Buffalo State College alumnus, she played a crucial role in the formation of Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center and CEPA Gallery during her time in Buffalo. Her work can be seen in collections at the Tate Gallery, London; the Museum of Modern Art; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others.

The work will be on loan from the Gerald Mead Collection. Dr. Gerald Mead, a noted independent curator, artist, and emeriti art educator based in Buffalo, has been collecting and exhibiting work by artists associated with WNY for over 35 years. This exhibition, Cindy Sherman: Works from the Gerald Mead Collection, consists of a brief survey of Cindy Sherman’s works dating from 1978 to 2017 from his collection. Included are works from several significant series of her career such as Untitled Film Stills, Fairy Tales, History Portraits, and Instagram.

GO ART! Gallery Hours: Wednesday: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Thursday & Friday: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. For more information contact Mary Jo Whitman at [email protected]

GO ART! announces upcoming classes in September

By Press Release

Press Release:

Brick Builder Club - GO ART! is running a free 4-week Brick Builders Club. The Club will take place starting Saturday, September 9, and run through September 30. This Club meets at GO ART! from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Building bricks are provided by GO ART! Brick Builders is open to ages 5 - 100+. 

Each week there will be a planned activity but it is fine if club members would like to free build. Because Club members will have to leave their creations at GO ART! each week's creations will be photographed and put up on our website (with parental permission).

Pillow Making Sewing Class - GO ART! is offering a Pillow Making Sewing Class with local quilter and sewing extraordinaire Peg Berhorn. The class will be held on Friday, September 15, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at GO ART!, 201 East Main St., Batavia. Open to participants age 12 and older, those who sign up should expect to attend both classes to complete the project. 

The cost is $20/person for non-GO ART! members and $18/per person for members, total, and all materials and tools will be provided. Contact GO ART! at 585-343-9313, email [email protected], or sign up online at Registration is requested by September 14. Participants will learn some of the basics of sewing if they do not already know how to sew and also complete a pillow to bring home!

Poetry and Prose Club - Starting Thursday, September 28 from 6-7 p.m. at GO ART! come and learn some of the basics of creative writing and participate in some fun creative writing activities (blackout poetry, object poetry, short stories and more) to get your creativity flowing or you can just come and network with other creative writers. There is no cost to participate in this program. Please bring a notebook with you (or a computer) to keep your work on.

Free Teen Animation Workshop - GO ART! is offering a 4-week Teen Animation Workshop for children 12-16 at the Hoag Library (134 S Main St, Albion, NY). This workshop will run on Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. September 30, October 7, 21, and 28. 

This workshop is FREE but registration is required. To register your teen please contact GO ART! at 585-343-9313 or email [email protected]. Registration is requested by September 27. This workshop will be instructed by Jess Moffet, a recent graduate of RIT.

BSA to host Gelli Plates demonstration Tuesday at GO ART!

By Joanne Beck

The Batavia Society of Artists is hosting artist Karen Crittenden at 7 p.m. this Tuesday at GO ART!/Seymour Place, 201 E. Main St., Batavia. 

Karen will be doing a hands-On Gelli Plates and Alcohol Inks demonstration.  All materials will be provided at no cost.  Refreshments are provided.  Non-members are welcome for a $5 fee.  The 2.o.1. Tavern will be open for cash purchases. 

Please join us for a fun and interesting evening of making art!  Any questions, please call Teresa Tamfer at 585-506-2465.

GO ART! hosting dodgeball tournament at The McCarthy on Aug. 12

By Howard B. Owens
go art dodgeball 2023
GO ART!'s Angie Dickson with the toss and Justin Reynolds calls out Gregory Hallock in a promotional shot for GO ART!'s upcoming dodgeball tournament.
Photo by Howard Owens.,

On a search for a fun fundraising activity that might draw in members of the community who don't typically support the arts, GO ART! Executive Directory Gregory Hallock hit upon a fanciful idea -- a dodgeball tournament.

After looking around a bit, Hallock realized there doesn't seem to be any other dodgeball tournaments in the area, so the idea also had the advantage of being unique.

So, GO ART! is hosting its inaugural dodgeball tournament on Saturday, Aug. 12 at the David M. McCarthy Ice Arena at 5 p.m.

Teams of six to eight people cost $200, which includes a beverage. There will be prizes for best team uniforms and best team name.

For those who are of an artistic bent -- and Hallock stresses, this is not required -- there will be a rap battle/poetry slam.

That helps keep the arts connected to the event, he said.

The event is sponsored by the David M. McCarthy Ice Arena and Eli Fish Brewing Co.

You can sign up your team online by clicking here.

"When we thought of the idea, it also immediately made us think of the dodgeball movie, and we realized that was all about being funny and having fun, so this is about being funny and having fun. It's the comedy side of arts," Hallock said.

go art dodgeball 2023
Justin Reynolds, Angie Dickson, and Gregory Hallock.
Photo by Howard Owens.

GO ART! brings Barber of Seville to Batavia

By Joanne Beck

As many forms of entertainment as there have been in this area — dramas, comedies, musicals, black box theater, high school, community and college productions, dance recitals, jazz, concert and jazz band, orchestra and vocal performances — there’s one that has yet to make it to the stage.

There hasn’t been an opera. And GO ART! Executive Director Gregory Hallock, in collaboration with Genesee Community College and Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel, in collaboration with the Oliver G. & Sarah Sloan Bauman Fund for the Arts, has worked to make it happen at the end of this month.

“We don’t really have opera or ballets out here, so I began to contact opera and ballet companies, and I got a response from the Rochester City Ballet and Nickel City Opera,” Hallock said to The Batavian. “I talked to my former voice teacher, who said that both are the real deal. They had been looking to tour and are really excited about this opportunity.”

Rochester City Ballet is in the works for “The Nutcracker” later this fall, while Nickel City Opera, based in Buffalo, will be delivering “The Barber of Seville” at 7 p.m. Monday to the stage of Stuart Steiner Theatre at GCC, 1 College Road, Batavia.

Hallock, with days to spare, discovered in March that there was a grant available, and due in April, that could help make the costly production possible for Genesee County. Folks at GCC were willing and happy to provide the venue, he said, while Batavia Downs donated several rooms for the traveling performers.

“The Barber of Seville” is an opera buffa in two acts composed by Gioachino Rossini with an Italian libretto by Cesare Sterbini. The libretto was based on Pierre Beaumarchais's 1775 French comedy The Barber of Seville. Rossini's version by the same name has proven “to be one of the greatest masterpieces of comedy within music and has been described as the opera buffa of all "opera buffas” after 200 years, according to the show’s press release.

Nickel City Opera’s founder and artistic director, Valerian Ruminski, describes the show as a chain of comedic antics, one after the other, and not what you’d expect from a full-fledged opera. It features Ruminski, a Metropolitan Opera basso, as “the old windbag Bartolo” who gets his comeuppance in a ruse so well-known, it was played out in a Looney Tunes episode of “Bugs Bunny” in the 1960s.

All of the performers are well-rehearsed professionals who arrive earlier that day to get ready, set, and go. A 21-member orchestra accompanies the action, and a full set delivered from New Jersey serves as the scenery to envelope the characters, action and song. Fair warning, this opera is based in Italian, but there will be large screens with supertitles of English for audience members to follow along.

Hallock sees the possible pitfalls of a Monday — it’s not your typical date night, to be sure. Then again, it’s not your typical date night, so make new plans, head out the door and kick off your week with a different kind of entertainment for yourselves.

Ruminski and Hallock encourage patrons to wear whatever they want, whether it’s a tuxedo or jeans and a sweatshirt, ballgown or yoga outfit  — there’s no pressure to conform to opera etiquette, they said.

“I’m just excited to bring this here and make this all happen,” Hallock said.

Likewise, Ruminski looks forward to bringing the full stage action to GCC, and he hopes to be able to do it on a yearly basis.

Nickel City Opera, Inc. was founded in 2003 by Valerian Ruminski, the show’s lead, and has produced over 20 operas, including the world premiere of “SHOT!” by Persis Vehar in 2016 at Shea’s Buffalo

Theatre. Other productions have included “La Boheme,” “Tosca,” “Don Pasquale,” and “The Marriage of Figaro.”

The opera company’s mission is to bring high-quality opera and events to Western New York,  and is launching an expansion project to further the arts in WNY and beyond.

Tickets may be purchased HERE or at GO ART!, 201 East Main St., Batavia. There is a discount available for students when tickets are purchased at GO ART!

Opera to bring world renowned talent, a bit of culture and comedy to Batavia

By Joanne Beck
Valerian Ruminski, opera bass
Valerian Ruminski, courtesy of his website

Valerian Ruminski’s talent has been appreciated for decades, and even as a young boy at St. Andrews in Buffalo, if there was any time left toward the end of the day, his biggest fans would make a request.

“The nuns would say, ‘Marty, sing us something.’ Marty was my real name, Valerian was my father’s name so I took that as my stage name, so they’d say, 'Marty, oh, sing us something,' I was always singing at the drop of a hat when I was a kid. I never thought that it was gonna be a career,” the veteran singing basso contante said during an interview with The Batavian. “But as I got a little older, I went to Canisius High School and was in the choir, and then when I was a senior, my teacher took me aside and said, you know, he says, out of the hundreds of students that I have, every couple of years one comes along that I have to tell them that they should pursue a career in music. And you're the one … he was strongly advising me that I had, you know, ample talents in that area.”

And, although Ruminski didn’t exactly follow the path to classical fame he’s now known for decades later (he was waylaid by an Alaskan fishing boat adventure), he has several accolades under his belt, including performances at Carnegie Hall, Orlando Opera, Danish National Opera, Geneva Light Opera, New York Symphonic Ensemble, Lincoln Center, Calgary Opera, Pacific Opera Victoria and Pasadena Opera, to name a few.

Soon the artistic director and founder of Nickel City Opera can add one more venue to his repertoire. He will be bringing — and playing the lead — in “The Barber of Seville” at 7 p.m. Monday at Stuart Steiner Theatre, 1 College Road, Batavia.

When the truck rolls up to deliver, this show promises a 21-piece orchestra, veteran actors, polished sets — doors, walls, props, costumes, makeup, wigs — and a completely professional set-up for the most famous comic opera in the world in the last 200 years, Ruminski said.

Before jumping straight into the show, The Batavian asked Ruminski about his detour to Alaska when he was supposed to be attending college back in the day.

“Yeah, I lived on a boat. I worked at a fishing cannery for about a year when I was 19 - 20 years old. I wanted to get away from it all, I wanted to have a band. You know, I had a techno band, like Depeche Mode. And I wanted to buy equipment for that, and my friend said we could work on a fishing boat, and we could make a lot of money in that summer,” he said. “So we didn't make lots of money. We made some money. And I bought a 63 VW microbus, and I drove down to Los Angeles, and I lived on the beach. And sort of had a wandering night and 20-year-old-adventure, and then eventually came back to Buffalo, because my teacher from high school said you should come back to Buffalo and get a free education at Buffalo Opera Chorus… and you can start singing, so that's what did it, so I came back.”

He took voice at the University at Buffalo and was put into Buffalo Opera Chorus, taught by the director of the company, and then was accepted into Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts, where “you’re like one of the few hundred people that gets chosen every year to go there,” he said.

“And I made my Met debut the year after I graduated from the academy,” he said.

At 29, he was an apprentice for the Santa Fe Opera and was hired to do a show in New York City. While there, a woman from the Met was there with a man scoping out Placido Domingo. They were later asked what they thought of Domingo’s performance. They liked him, Ruminski said, but wanted to know, “who’s the Russian bass?”

Valerian Ruminski, on stage
Valerian Ruminski in character, courtesy of his website

“They like that,” Ruminski said with a smile in his voice. “And I've constantly gotten jobs singing in Russian because my name is Valerian Ruminski. And they think that I'm Polish or Russian, but I'm as American as can be. But they hire me for these jobs because the marquee looks good … they put me on the top of the marquee, and they said they didn't want a guy named Johnny Smith on the top of the marquee because all the other singers were from Russia.”

He doesn’t argue that misperception, as it “gets me jobs,” he said. Of course, if the name was an empty vessel, there wouldn’t be the resume that exists for Ruminski. His performances have met with many favorable reviews, including from critic Oliver Munar:

"As Prince Germin in the final act, bass Valerian Ruminski turns in a standout performance. Ruminski’s vibrant voice filled the auditorium with a warmth and sensitivity that underscored his character’s love for Tatyana. On this night, Ruminski offered a truly endearing portrayal that elicited one of the warmest responses for the performance."                                                                                         

And from Kenneth Delong:

"In vocal terms, an excellent moment came in Valerian Ruminski’s great final act bass aria, which was delivered to excellent effect and with a commanding voice. It was an outstanding moment in the production."

For “The Barber of Seville,” Ruminski is to play Bartolo, whose house is set in a public square surrounded by a band of musicians and a poor student named Lindoro, serenading through the window of Rosina to no avail. Lindoro is really the young Count Almaviva in disguise, hoping to make the beautiful Rosina love him for himself and not his money. Rosina is the young ward of the grumpy, elderly Bartolo, and she is allowed very little freedom because Bartolo plans to marry her once she is of age and thus appropriate her considerable dowry. 

Described as a plot of bribery, deception and disguise in which Figaro needs all of his wiles to help the Count outwit Bartolo and ensure true love wins the day, this opera is “a feast of frivolous fun.”

A portion of it was even featured in a Bugs Bunny cartoon because of its popularity and being a cultural classic, Ruminski said. Oh, and it’s a hoot as well.     

“They were made in the late 50s, early 60s. And that's back when there was actually culture in people's lives, and people knew what the Barber of Seville was and that it was a common thing. Even children knew what the Barber of Seville was about, and that disappeared. It doesn't exist anymore. But back then, you know, they even made cartoons with Bugs Bunny and Elmer, but with the music from Bach,” he said. “I mean, they made a couple of those opera cartoons, and people remember them. They became very famous because they're so smart and funny, and striking. And artistically, you know, the animation was fantastic. So that's why I mean, it made a lasting impression. I think the last generation, you know, they remember those things."                        

“That’s why there’s a bunny on the poster so that people know it’s a comedy,” he said. “When they hear opera, they think someone is going to die.”

Valerian Ruminski

What percentage of your roles would you prefer to do something more comedic than serious?
“It's really a difficult question because it's fun to do. Obviously, the comedic role, it's harder to do, the comedy is always harder, and you have to plan comedy. You have to have everything as precise, as precision is involved, and there's repetition and all that was much harder to do most of the comic roles than it is to do a serious role where you just run in and stand there and sing something. And there's just a dramatic moment, and you don't have to worry about doing the job or getting the bit across. I prefer to sing. I am a basso contante. That's my voice category, I'm not a goofball,” he said. There are some basses who only sing comedy because their voices are not pretty … I do have a pretty voice. And I can sing, I can sing things very beautiful. So I liked singing these more dramatic roles, where it calls for beautiful lines like a lot of the French repertoire calls for beautiful singing. So the problem is that it's harder to find a comic bass, there's not so many of them around. But I do have a flair for the comic, and I enjoyed doing the comic, I'm giving you a very nuanced answer I know. But yes, I enjoy singing the comic roles. When I get them, of course, I attack them, just with the same amount of intensity as I would any other role. And I do my job. And the Barber of Seville is a very difficult role with one of the primary buffo comic bass roles.

“This started the French Revolution, it stuck a pin in the aristocracy,” Ruminski said. “There’s a chain of silly situations, multi-layers of not just comedy, but a work of art.”

Performers are flying in from Guadalajara, Mexico, San Diego, and New York City, directors from New Jersey and one from Bulgaria. Musicians are being culled from Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. And 300 lucky patrons will have the opportunity to see this special production unfold for two hours on a Monday evening.

Of all the audiences Ruminski had performed before, he had a particularly special one more recently after he met his biological mother for the first time. It was at Our Lady of Victory Basilica Church in Buffalo with a crowd of some 1,400 people. It was “bittersweet,” he said because he wished she could have seen him at the top of his career at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the like.

He has also reconnected with his biological father, and both connections have given him a whole new family when he was otherwise left with no one in the Buffalo area.

He originally planned to leave Erie County and live more permanently in Palm Springs, Calif., where he now stays part-time during the year.

“So now, for the past three years, I've been getting to know my parents. They're both in Buffalo,” he said. “And so my plan to abandon Buffalo was abandoned. I abandoned my abandonment plan.”

And as far as opera is concerned, he has made singing debuts all over the world for 25 years and has gotten into producing more lately, including more contemporary works such as operas based on Stephen King, It’s a Wonderful Life, Sunset Boulevard, Casa Blanca, something “contemporary and relevant to our modern sensibilities,” he said.

He has been recording pop CDs under the label Impresario to feed that other part of his soul hungry for the Depeche Mode era. The pandemic allowed for more time to work on that project, which evolved from writing his own compositions, playing on piano and later singing with a virtual drummer.

For his birthday recently, his wish was to record in a studio.

“Because I want to lay down vocals, and I’m working on one of my songs. That’s my treat,” he said. “That’s my secret passion, that I enjoy doing it and making songs, and I put them on YouTube and all that.”

Three new shows at GO ART! feature the whimsical, the imaginary, and the realistic

By Howard B. Owens
Patricia Schafer
Patricia Schafer with some of her artwork on display at GO ART!
Photo by Howard Owens.

Patricia Schafer has been painting for years and years, she said, but she never thought about placing her work in an art show until she started to get a little unexpected recognition.

"It was so exciting, Schafer said. "I never had a show before. I've gotten to this stage of my life without a show; though I've been painting for a long time, but I never really had confidence in my work. Through the Chili art group, I've won a couple of ribbons here and there. And I thought, Oh, wait, there is somebody who likes my stuff."

GO ART! invited the Spencerport resident to show a bit of her work in Medina, and that led to a full show that runs through August at Seymour Place in Batavia.

She's titled the show, My Whimsical Heart, a totally appropriate description of her work, which is mixed media -- mostly painting and collage -- and features bright colors, mostly people, with creative, shall we say, whimsical backgrounds.

"If I do a landscape, and I do have a couple of landscapes, people are like, 'you gotta get back to those people. We love those people and the backgrounds.' So, people recognize my work, which is nice."

She said she paints for the love of it, for the joy of it.

"This is kind of like a relaxation hobby," Schafer said. "For me, I love it. I love color, it makes me happy. If you have a day that you're kind of down about stuff, that's just why I do it."

Patricia Schafer
Picture titled 'Lulu.' Louise Brooks was a silent movie star who later moved to Rochester and died in Rochester in 1985.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Patricia Schafer
Justin Reynolds
Justin Reynolds
Photo by Howard Owens

Corfu resident Justin Reynolds describes his seascapes and landscapes as somewhere between the abstract and realism.  They're never of any place he specifically remembers visiting.

"I've been asked a lot tonight if they're from specific places, and they're really not from places. I guess they're in my head or maybe I have been and forgotten. They're all very just kind of conjured up," he said.

Painting, Reynolds said during the opening of his show at GO ART!, takes him to different places.

"I think I always gravitate (to these places), in my mind, when I think of where I'd like to be relaxed and find some peace," Reynolds said. "I think those are some of the places I picture. So a lot of times, I'm painting where I could see myself unwinding and detaching from the stresses of life."

Patricia Schafer
carla coots
Photographer Carla Coots
Photo by Howard Owens.

Photographer Carla Coots, a Le Roy resident, is best known for her music photography.  She can often be found at the Smokin' Eagle in Le Roy, snapping shots of bands playing in the bar.  Some of her best work is displayed on the venue's walls.

She also likes trees. Well, she likes photographing other things, but she does like trees, and trees are the focus of her show that opened Thursday at GO ART!

Coots is a retired special education teacher.  She took up photography 16 years ago when she was looking for something to do in the arts. 

"I think that I got into it because I needed to, and it was a good, really therapeutic thing," Coots said. "Art is a form of communication. I think that it really helped me get through a lot of things that I was going through at that time."

carla coots

Photos: Ukrainian egg decorating at GO ART!

By Howard B. Owens
ava davids
Ava Davids decorating an egg in a Ukrainian style called pysanky at GO ART! on Saturday.
Photo by Howard Owens.

GO ART! today hosted the first of a two-part class on Ukrainian egg decorating, or pysanky.  Pysankar master artist Irene Grassman is leading the class as part of GO ART!'s Explore Art! program.

ukrainian egg decorating at GO ART!


ukrainian egg decorating at GO ART!
ukrainian egg decorating at GO ART!
ukrainian egg decorating at GO ART!
ukrainian egg decorating at GO ART!
GO ART! staff member Jodi Fisher with her decorated egg.
Photo by Howard Owens

All photos by Howard Owens.

GO ART! Offers Class in Ukrainian Egg Decorating

By Press Release
File photo by GO Art!
Submitted photo.

Press Release:

GO ART! is offering a special 2-session class in Ukrainian Egg Decorating, or pysanky, with master pysankar artist, Irene Grassman, as part of our Explore Art! program. The classes will be held on Saturday, May 6 and May 13, from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm at GO ART!, 201 East Main St., Batavia. 

The class is open to participants age 12 and older, those who sign up should expect to attend both classes to complete the project. The cost is $25 per person, in total, and all materials and tools will be provided. Contact GO ART! at 585-343-9313, email [email protected], or sign up online at Registration is requested by May 3. 

Irene Czolacz Grassmann was born in Germany in a displaced persons camp and came to America with her parents in 1952. While quickly adapting and embracing the customs of their new homeland, Irene’s parents continued to observe and instill their beautiful Ukrainian culture and heritage in their children. 

From an early age, Irene was interested in various Ukrainian arts, including embroidery and ceramics, but fell in love with the art of writing Pysanky (decorated eggs) continues to this day. She has taught history and the process of the Pysanka through BOCES-Continuing Education Programs; the Castellani Art Museum at Niagara University; various cultural festivals in Buffalo, Kerhonkson, and Rochester, as well as teaching the Art of Pysanky at a Ukrainian American Youth Association Arts and Crafts Camp in Ellenville, NY in the Catskills for 17 years.

Participants will learn about traditional motifs, symbols, designs and colors, many of which are used to wish good luck and prosperity to the receiver of the egg. The word Pysanka is derived from the Ukrainian word, “pysaty” which means to write—which is how artists describe the process of creating their beautiful and intricate designs.

File photo provided by GO Art!.

It's time for GO ART! Genean Award nominations

By Press Release

Press Release:

GO ART! Invites Community Members to Submit Nominations for the Annual Genean Awards  

Do you know an artist or organization from Genesee or Orleans County that deserves recognition for their accomplishments in 2022?  GO ART! is inviting community members to submit nominations for the Annual Genean Awards. 

“Why “Genean” you ask?” says Executive Director, Gregory Hallock, “Well, simply put, we decided that we needed to have our own unique awards (like the Oscars or Tony awards) for GENesee and OrlEANs counties, to recognize a few of the amazing people and organizations we have within our counties.”

The categories for nomination are as follows:

Organization of the Year - This award honors a not-for-profit or for-profit arts organization for its outstanding achievements in 2022

Individual Artist of the Year - This award honors an individual artist in any discipline for their achievements in 2022 or career-long body of work

Arts and Culture Supporter of the Year - This award honors an individual or an organization outside of the arts and cultural sector for their work directly aiding in the arts and/or cultural sector during 2022.

To submit a nomination visit  All nominations are due by May 9.

GO ART! awards state grants to multiple artists and community organizations

By Press Release


Press release:

On Sat, April 22, GO ART! announced the 2023 Statewide Community Regrant (SCR) Program Grantees at the Hoag Library in Albion.

The Statewide Community Regrant Program was developed by the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) in 1977 in response to a mandate by New York’s Legislature that there be greater local involvement in funding decisions, affecting local non-profit organizations, offering artistic or cultural services and programs, and to ensure New York State’s cultural funding reached every part of the State.  The program is funded statewide, in all 62 counties, and NYSCA funds are regranted by local arts agencies through a transparent peer panel funding process.  Through the Statewide Community Regrant Program GO ART!, NYSCA and the New York State Legislature hope to extend, upgrade and increase the arts and cultural programming in Genesee and Orleans Counties. The goal is to make state arts support available to geographically, economically, and ethnically diverse segments of the state’s population. 

Through the SCR Program, GO ART! awarded a total of $210,000 in regrant funding to 50 artists and organizations for events and programming throughout Genesee and Orleans counties.

The Statewide Community Regrant Program consists of three different grants Reach, Ripple and Spark:

REACH: The GO ART! Community Arts Grants (Reach Grants) provide seed grants to individual artists, collectives and arts organizations for projects and activities that enable Genesee and Orleans County communities to experience and engage with the performing, literary, media, and visual arts. Each year the program supports arts projects, including concerts, performances, public art, exhibitions, screenings, festivals, workshops, readings, and more. 


  • Batavia Business Improvement District - Jackson Square Concert Series - $5000
  • Batavia Concert Band - 2023 Batavia Concert Band Summer Concert Series - $3231
  • Batavia Development Corp - Murals in the Batavia City Centre - $2800
  • Batavia Players, Inc - 2023 Theater Season - $5000
  • Bergen Historical Society - Holiday Mural Panels - $4286
  • Bill & Kay McDonald - Homegrown Concert Series 2023 - $5000
  • Brian Kemp (Batavia Business Improvement District) - TableTop ArtShow - $5000
  • Byron-Bergen Public Library - Enriching lives through the Arts - $4954
  • David Burke (Warrior House of WNY) - The Goose Community Center Indoor Mural - $2500
  • Elba Betterment Committee - EBC Presents Art Around Town (Again) - $5000
  • Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden - Artistic Interpretive Panels - $5000
  • Gillam-Grant Community Center - Community Art Adventure - $4849
  • Genesee Chorale, Inc - Genesee Chorale 2023 Season - $5000
  • Genesee Symphony Orchestra - 2023 Concert Series - $5000
  • GLOW OUT! - 2023  Pride Festival - $4500
  • Haxton Memorial Library - Talented Thursdays - $5000
  • Heather Davis (St. Mark's Episcopal Church) - Opera on the Oatka - $1500
  • Holland Land Office Museum - Guest Speaker & Concert Series - $3500
  • Hollwedel Memorial Public Library - Shake on the Lake Presents William Shakespeare - $5000
  • Michelle Cryer (Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden) - Batavia Water Storage Tank Mural - $2800
  • Oakfield Betterment Committee - Oakfield Labor Daze - $5000
  • St. Mark's Episcopal Church - Music at St. Mark's - $2970
  • Thera Sanchez (Habitat for Humanity) - Batavia's Gold Mural - $3000
  • Warrior House of WNY - Learning Through Art - $5000
  • William Peterson (Batavia Players) - Everyone Has a Story - $5000
  • Woodward Memorial Library - Art All Year ­- $5000


  • Albion Merchants Association - Concerts on the Canal - $5000
  • Cobblestone Society & Museum - Cobblestone Museum Arts Series for 2023 - $5000
  • Friends of Boxwood Cemetery - Boxwood at Night - $4160
  • Hoag Library - Hoag Music Series - $5000
  • Howard Barry (Community Free Library) - Myron Holley Erie Canal Mural - $5000
  • Lee-Whedon Memorial Library - Finally Fridays! 2023 - $3200
  • Lyndonville Lions Club - I Hear the Music - $5000
  • Orleans County Historical Association – Multidisciplinary Live History Event- $5000 
  • Veronica Morgan - I was a "Hoggee" on the Erie Canal - $5000
  • Vette (Albion Merchant Association) - Albion Summer Concert -$4768
  • Village of Albion - Bridging the Village Music Series - $5000
  • Village of Holley - Concerts at the Canal - $3000
  • Yates Community Library - More than Just Books - $5000

RIPPLE: The GO ART! Individual Artist Commission (Ripple Grant) supports local, artist-initiated activity, and highlights the role of artists as important members of the community. The Commission is for artistic projects with outstanding artistic merit that work within a community setting. 


  • Eric Zwieg - Passenger: A Billion Little Pieces - Postmodern Reflections - $2500
  • David Burke - Harvester Center Hallway Mural - $2500
  • William Schutt - Connecting Hands Connecting Communities - $2500
  • Joshua Lang - On Dreams - $2500


  • Eric Weatherbee - The Humble Bard Present - $2500

SPARK: The Arts Education Program (Spark Grant) supports arts education projects for youth and/or senior learners. Emphasis is placed on the depth and quality of the creative process through which participants learn about the arts. Projects must focus on the exploration of art and the artistic process.


  • Genesee County Youth Bureau - Re:Creation (Drawings of Nature) - $3200
  • Strength in Numbers Organization Inc - Strength In Numbers Organization Youth Music Program - $5000
  • Linda Miranda Fix (Batavia Central School District) - #kindness,empathy&you mural - $5000
  • Laura Jackett (Byron-Bergen Public Library) - Art Workshops at the Libraries - $5000


  • Patricia Greene (Orleans County Chamber of Commerce) - Art Experiences for Seniors - $5000
  • Judd Sunshine (Lyndonville Central School District) - Erie Canal Songwriting Project - $3300

These grants are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.  

Photos by Tom Rivers/Orleans Hub.

Top photo: Gregory Hallock (right), executive director of the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council greets about 75 people during an announcement on Saturday for $210,000 in grants to local arts programs. He is joined at Hoag Library in Albion by Mary Jo Whitman (left), the education and Statewide Community Regrant Program coordinator; and Jodi Fisher (center), the GO ART! administrative assistant.


GO ART! officials on Saturday presented checks for $210,000 to about 50 different artists, community organizations and municipalities to support cultural programs in 2023. The funding was presented to about 75 people at the Hoag Library in Albion.


Sara Vacin, executive director of GLOW Out, said a grant will help fund the GLOW Pride Fest on June 9 in Batavia.

Photos: GO ART!'s steel drum concert on Saturday

By Howard B. Owens


GO ART! hosted a steel drum band concert in the City Centre concourse on Saturday.

The featured bands were: 

  • Ithaca College, “I C Steel” 
  • Steel Alchemy Community Steelband from Geneseo
  • Rochester Institute of Technology’s “Tiger Steel” 
  • Lancaster High School, “Carnival Kids Steel Orchestra”  

Photos by Howard Owens




Teens invited to create, share, connect, and find out what they want during April 23 event

By Joanne Beck


There’s an event coming up for teens with a poster title that may sound a bit deceiving. It asks the question, “Is there something you want to change in Genesee County?”

In talking with lead organizer Cameron Bontrager, a more specific question came to the forefront.

“We’re giving them the tools and going to ask them, ‘what do you want?’” Bontrager said during an interview with The Batavian. “If you pause in grief and ask ‘what do I want?’ something comes to you. Ask yourself, is this nourishing or is this depleting? You don’t have to stay stuck in something.

“It leads to a life you’re excited for, it feels like Christmas morning,” he said. “You feel empowered. This initiative, this is what motivates me. You don’t have to wait for some type of status. It’s right here. And it starts to get magical.”

So back up a minute. The event that he’s organizing is for kids ages 13 to 18 to meet from 3 to 6 p.m. on April 23 at GO ART!, 201 E. Main St., Batavia.

This gathering will also be an opportunity to get together, talk, share your thoughts, feelings, and artwork if you care to create something, and share your vision of the world, your life, and — most importantly — what you’d like your life to be, he said.

Bontrager, who has struggled with depression, is a 2019 Batavia High School graduate who began to study music education with a focus on violin at Fredonia State College before deciding to leave. A versatile musician, he also plays guitar, piano and trumpet.

“I have struggled with this in school. People did their best, but they didn’t give me the tools for life. They filled my head with a lot of knowledge,” he said. “I want to listen to that space inside of other kids … to find out what kind of impact they want to make on this world, to take that and run with that. Give them the tools and access this life they want.”

The Batavian asked why he believes that he can help other kids. Because he has already, he said. He has randomly encountered kids in various situations, including as a musician and member at Batavia First Presbyterian Church, and when it seems appropriate, will engage in conversation.

“I have friends feeling depressed, I was in a place of depression, I wanted to die, I was in a place I wanted to hide away and eat a pizza,” Bontrager said. “I want kids to be able to tell us ‘I want to die.’ We don’t want to die, we just don’t like our current situation.”

He will lead the event gathering and explain that it’s really up to the participants what it will be. They can use the time to just talk, or create art, share poetry, music, plan a community outreach project, and/or more meetings, whatever they decide.

“I want to let them know I feel the same way, it’s never just you, it never is. I try to be as honest as possible,” he said. “My biggest hope is that people can express how sucky it is, and say they need something. My biggest times of growth were when I reached out for help. Your parents may not understand you, they may love you, but not know how to help you.”

He now feels that he’s on a much better path — in connecting with people, sharing his story, helping them find what they need for their own growth, and seeing his gifts come to fruition through others.

“This invitation is to just show up and speak what’s in your heart,” he said. “If you want to create art and talk about it, or if you don’t want to talk, that’s ok too.”

Artwork can be visual, written, performance or musical, and is to tell, express, and communicate what you would like to change. All entrants will be added to a drawing for a $200 gift card and door prizes. The deadline for entries is April 16, submitted to GO ART!, 201 E. Main St., Batavia, NY, 14020.

The group is not based on any religious beliefs or denominations, and all teens 13 to 18 are welcome, he said.

For more information, contact Cameron Bontrager at (585) 343-0505.

Photo of Cameron Bontrager of Batavia in a "welcome" pose in preparation for his youth event on April 23 at GO ART! in Batavia, by Joanne Beck.

Steel Band Festival at GO ART! this weekend

By Press Release


Press Release:

GO ART! is excited to host the Western New York Steel Band Festival on Saturday afternoon, April 15 at the Batavia City Centre. Organized by teaching artist and percussionist, Ted Canning, the event welcomes everyone to come enjoy steel pan bands performing on this instrument developed in Trinidad and Tobago. Admission is a $5 suggested donation, and
ample parking is available at the City Centre.

The event begins at 2 p.m. with a pre-concert presentation, Pan in Trinidad, with longtime Rochester pan player and band leader, Alfred St. John. Alfred was born and raised in Trinidad and experienced the first several decades of the instrument’s growth there in the 1940’s-60’s.  The program continues with a concert at 3:00 pm, featuring the Lancaster High School Carnival Kids Steel Orchestra, Rochester Institute of Technology’s Tiger Steel, and the Steel Alchemy Community Steelband.

The concert will conclude on a high note with joint performance of all the bands together. Carnival Kids Steel Orchestra was started by John Marone in 1974, and is the third oldest established continuing steel drum program in the United States. The group performs numerous concerts and events annually in the greater Buffalo area, has produced several recordings, and has traveled from Philadelphia, Chicago, Disney World and Trinidad. The RIT Tiger Steel band is newly formed over the past year, offered as a class in a campuswide initiative to enhance the experience of arts for all students.

They have represented the university at events off campus and were featured in the 2022 holiday video card for the university. Steel Alchemy was formed in 2001 as a community- based band, open to anyone ages 13 and older. With an emphasis on intergenerational group learning, the band performs at town festivals, concert series and private events throughout the Genesee Valley. Steel Alchemy and Tiger Steel are directed by Ted Canning.

“I’m really excited to bring this festival to Batavia, in what I hope will be an annual event,” says Canning. “It might be surprising for people to learn that our part of the state has a significant Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council WNY Steelband Festival Release 
connection to the Trinidadian steel band tradition and its founders, from the groups featured at the
festival as well as Paul Ferrette’s Caribbean Extravaganza in Buffalo, Al St. John’s Trinidad and Tobago
Steel band in Rochester, and a history of school bands in Rochester, Randolph, Ithaca, Naples, and
Dundee. I have wanted to bring our groups together for a long time, and to share this music with our
community—it will be a great time!”

The Western New York Steel Band Festival is being presented as part of the activities of
GLOW Creatives, a group of 10 artists (including Canning) at GO ART! who received a grant from
the Creatives Rebuild New York Artist Employment Program, supported by the Mellon Foundation.
GO ART! programming is also made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the
support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

The event is at Seymour Place, 201 East Main St., Batavia, New York, 14020-2205. For more information, call  585-343-9313. email [email protected] or go to

Photo submitted from online source.

Mary Jo Whitman is BSA guest speaker this month, on how to prepare an exhibit

By Press Release

Press release:

The Batavia Society of Artists is hosting artist Mary Jo Whitman on Tuesday, April 11, starting at 7 p.m. at GO ART!/Seymour Place, 201 E. Main St., Batavia.  Mary Jo will be doing a demo on Preparing for an Exhibit. Which every artist needs!  The 2.o.1. Tavern will be open for cash purchases.  Non-members are welcome for a $5 fee.  We are always accepting new members, any medium or skill level, single $30, couple $50, and student/veteran $10.

Mary Jo Whitman is the Education Director/SCR Coordinator at GO ART! and an Adjunct Art History Professor at Genesee Community College. She has been a practicing artist for over 20 years, working in a variety of forms, including drawing, mural painting, photography, digital art, and sculpture, with a focus on conceptual art. Although much of her work is commissioned, she has exhibited in various group and solo exhibits, both locally and internationally.

Earning a MA in Critical Museum Studies from the University of Buffalo, her graduate research focused on exploring critical theory as it pertains to the construction of identity in a postmodern era. Graduating from SUNY Brockport summa cum laude, she holds a BA in Studio Arts with a concentration in Sculpture and a minor in Art History. Mary Jo also has an AAS in Fine Arts, with a concentration on Digital Art, from Genesee Community College.

Passionate about promoting and fostering the arts, Mary Jo served on the Board of Directors at GO ART! from 2015-2018, chairing the External Affairs and Gallery Committees. As the former Art Gallery Coordinator for the Rosalie “Roz” Steiner Art Gallery, Mary Jo focused on enhancing the student’s education through exposure to a variety of mediums and art forms while curating diverse and dynamic exhibitions for the community to enjoy. She has also had the honor of speaking as a guest lecturer to several artistic and educational groups, as well as serving as a juror for many exhibitions across the region, including the Congressional Art Competition for the 27th District.

Too much going on at GO ART! for secrets: annual report

By Joanne Beck


This past year has been a year of firsts for Genesee-Orleans Regional Art Council.

The nonprofit gave out $147,000 through its regrant program and $210,000 through COVID relief funding, both more than what’s been doled out in the past, Executive Director Gregory Hallock says.

Better known as GO ART!, it has grown exponentially with the number and variety of programs offered for children and adults, developed a budget of $100,000 from when Hallock was hired seven years ago to $600,000 now, and was the recipient of the Chamber of Commerce Special Service Recognition Award.

The facility at the corner of East Main and Bank streets in Batavia, with a site also in Orleans County, is figuratively busting at the seams to the point where staff is planning to expand in both counties. All this is to say, Hallock was plenty armed with positive data for his annual report to Genesee County legislators Monday.

“Everything we do is dramatically stepped up in numbers,” he said. “We’re no more the best-kept secret.”

Although having only 12 percent of its revenues coming from programs and fundraising seems like a good thing, it concerns Hallock, he said. That leaves GO ART! dependent on the majority of its funding from outside sources that could revise their contributions at some point.

Genesee County’s funding has been fairly steady, recorded in 1993 with a $2,500 contribution, and jumping to $6,000 in 2004, with $4,000 in state grant funds, and declining in 2010, ranging from 5 percent to 15 percent reductions. Numbers hit a low of $6,300 in 2017, and then inched up to $6,500 and again, for the last two years, where it has remained at $7,500.

According to the report, 50.6 percent of its budget goes to administrative costs of $208,395, 35.8 percent for grants ($147,465) awarded to community artists, 2.4 percent for fundraising costs of $10,138, and 11.2 percent for programs and events ($46,167).

Grants go to musical groups such as Batavia Concert Band, Genesee Chorale, The Old Hippies, and Genesee Symphony Orchestra; and to community entertainment and initiatives, including Batavia Players, Elba and Oakfield Betterment Committees, GLOW OUT!, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Gillam Grant Community Center, Holland Purchase Historical Society, and Bart Dentino.

Staff is pursuing additional artists, such as Rochester City Ballet for a performance of the “Nutcracker” and Nickel City Ballet, hoping to showcase those groups for less than people would have to pay to see them in bigger cities and venues, Hallock said.

“It’s more to sustain programming than to sustain us,” he said.

GO ART! has also more recently printed a flyer that will be sent out periodically to keep members updated on programs and offerings, which include podcasts, dance, music, art, culinary arts, and culturally- and diversity-focused events.

“As an organization, we’re proud to have a building that allows us to be versatile in the programming we are able to offer the greater community,” Hallock said as part of the report.

2023 File Photo of Gregory Hallock by Howard Owens.

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