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March 31, 2018 - 1:19pm
posted by Billie Owens in art, GCC, mural.

Submitted photos and press release:

In 2014, the owners of the Village Bakery & Café in Downtown Rochester contacted Karen (Todd) Flack to paint a mural to illustrate their fresh food philosophy which boasts local farm products, produce and free-range eggs.

Flack was excited about the project and she developed a farm scene stretching across nearly a full wall in the Café. The 10' x 25' painting features the sun rising behind mountains that edge a farm with chickens, a cow, trees, a wagon, fields and flowers and a banner that reads: "It's not just what we use. It's what we don't." Patrons have been enjoying the mural for nearly four years since her original artwork was developed.

An adjunct Art teacher at Genesee Community College, Flack teaches all of her students to do their homework and use a variety of resources to maximize the impact of a visual assignment. In fact, she collected approximately 150 images for visual reference while doing the Village Bakery & Café painting. In her 10 years of teaching at GCC, Flack has enjoyed teaching students of all ages.

She has also worked various art restoration projects and architectural conservation projects including assignments in the Senator's Mansion in Churchville, The First Universalist Church in Rochester, and privately owned works by artists such as Andy Warhol and Ramon Santiago. She also designed the commemorative button for the Second Annual Orleans County Heritage Festival in 2017.

As both an artist and educator, Flack was recently honored when she discovered the mural in the Village Bakery & Café was being used as a reference by R.I.T. graduate student, Kelly Ryan in a teaching unit for a seventh-grade studio art class at The Harley School in Brighton.

The unit Ryan developed teaches students about effective use of the foreground, middle ground and background to develop great compositions, how to foster creativity and apply acrylic painting techniques. The farm-scape unit included a guest artist session where Ryan's students met Flack to discuss not only the mural, but the students' artwork, as well.

"I was so impressed seeing all of the pieces these young budding artists created using my work as inspiration," Flack said. "Most artists hope their work inspires or educates and it was humbling to see it first-hand in these students." 

Ryan's unit also served to illustrate the various careers available to artists.

"With each unit I teach, I work hard to make sure my students see the opportunities their learning and skills can produce," Ryan said. "Having Karen come into the classroom created a real-world connection for the students that demonstrated how art can be used to communicate messages, in this case the farm to table concept, to the community through a social context.

"The farm-scape unit culminated with a student art exhibit at the Village Bakery & Café. The public display really drove the students to produce their very best work."

Flack's mural, which was one of four nominated for the Best Mural in Rochester in 2014 is visible at the Village Bakery & Café at the Armory, located at 145 Culver Road in the City of Rochester.

To appreciate Flack's additional creativity in arts go to her website here, which features a video of her playing her violin or "fiddle" as a guest appearance with the Marshall Tucker Band at the Rochester Lilac Festival, and also her work at the Perry Chalk Art Festival where she won first place in 2016 and was the featured artist in 2017.

(In addition to the Culver Road location in Rochester, Village Bakery & Cafe has two other sites: in the Eastview Mall in the Town of Victor; and in the Village of Pittsford.)

December 11, 2008 - 7:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, mural.

I spotted this mural on Swan Street in Batavia a few days ago and was taken by the idea that it was probably painted prior to 9/11, and it's still there -- on what is otherwise a pretty run-down old building.  The mural, which consists of two panels of the New York City skyline, is signed "John Howard."

April 29, 2008 - 3:30pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, downtown, mural.

With the help of historian Larry Barnes, I've tracked down Vincenzo DelPlato, the jazz artist who painted the murals in Jackson Square, plus a few others around town.

Larry Barnes told me that Vincenzo's friends call him Vinny. So I called and asked for Vinny — folksiness often gets you further than formality, I find. I said my name is Philip. He called me Phil. And before you knew it, we were a couple of old pals chatting about art, about life and living it big.

Vinny's up in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire now. He's been there for some time with his wife and his little boy, Theo, he says. Jazz artist seems the best way to described how he paints — and how he talks: with style, a little syncopated, melodic and meaningful.

When I ask him why he paints murals, he tells me this, he says: "An old professor of mine at Buffalo once asked me: Vinny, do you want to be a Chinese firecracker or an A-bomb?"

Take a stroll through Jackson Park to see how Vinny answered that question. He started on the downtown murals in 1994, having got practice painting backdrops for a theater company in Leroy.

"I didn't want to work small," he says. "I want to make an impact with my life. So I took it upon myself to paint the walls that needed painting."

Outside in people's faces is where Vinny wants his art, inspired, he says, by a line from Claes Oldenburg, a sculptor who once said that art belongs anywhere but rotting on its butt in a museum somewhere. "He became one of my heroes," says Vinny.

He took his paint and brush out into the streets. Eventually, the city caught on that this jazz artist was doing great things, and they commissioned him to paint murals all over downtown. So he did it.

Larry Barnes laments the loss of one of Vinny's greatest city murals that was on the corner of Ellicott and Liberty streets. A photo of it can still be seen on Vinny's Web site. It was jazz art at its best: a rollicking, frenetic jam of just good old neighborhood folks, the very folks who lived around that corner, in fact.

"There's so much out there that can be brought back to life with a little paint, a brush and a lot of hard work," says Vinny. "A little sweat mixed with paint can go a long way."

April 29, 2008 - 11:58am
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, downtown, mural.

All cities have their quirks and foibles.

Rochester has abandoned button factories filled with artists and evacuated tenements full of asbestos. Or, at least, that's how it is on my street. Buffalo has the Bills. Albany has our state government. New York City has the entire island of Manhattan.

What of Batavia, you ask? Some might say the high school football team. Though I'm less quick to judge, even if I'm told the tradition is to root against the home team at homecoming. (Everyone loves an underdog. Look at the Chicago Cubs.) Instead, I say just take a walk downtown. There are more murals painted on the brick of downtown buildings than... I don't know... homecoming wins for the football team.

Here's a pair from Ellicott Street, part of an Air Force theme on a few buildings there:

Properly curious, I've set out to see what the city thinks of its peeling treasures. Larry Barnes, the city historian, is on the case. He should be back to me by the end of the week with whatever research he digs up that tells us more about just why this city wants to paint all of its buildings. Maybe we'll find out who started it, too.

The few folks I've chatted up so far don't know what to think of the murals nor how they got here. If you have thoughts, please share them. In the meantime, I'll keep hunting for answers.

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