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Current Seen: The Rochester Biennial


>> We are visual creatures. Enticed and allured by the movement of our lives and the intricate visuals that fill it. The lapsing moments of our day brimming with possibilities of encountering something new. Why not let it be art. Art that can be shared with others, creating dialogue and connectivity within ourselves and our community. Current Seen does just that.

Launching October 4th and running through November 17th, Current Seen emphasizes the notion of big ideas and small venues. With work from local and national artists, it is embodied by “exhibitions, pop-ups, and public art projects that explore our current moment and our changing city.” By bringing in current curatorial insight and voices as well as new artists, the region’s expanding art community can be rooted within a more connective and engaging platform. Throughout this timeframe, there will be various exhibitions and events that are dispersed around Downtown Rochester. Location plays a vital role within the orchestration of this project by enriching the feelings that these art pieces evoke and the messages they relay. “Integral to this project is to move audiences west to east and east to west...this geographic focus addresses the corridor as both a dividing line and a connective thread.” With spots ranging from The Little Theatre, the Douglass Auditorium, Greenwood Books, and along East Ave and Main Street, this exploratory journey will not only enlighten you over the art but Rochester itself. Joining audiences as they travel down these monumental and historic streets, new life comes alive as we simultaneously glance back to what once was.

The origin story of Current Seen dates back to 2015 when the Memorial Art Gallery passed down the brand “Rochester Biennial” to RoCo. From there they aspired to connect and collaborate with other small and mid-sized venues to create a contemporary art program manifested in multiple sites throughout downtown Rochester. Bleu Cease is the Executive Director and Curator at RoCo and lead organizer of Current Seen. Having organized First Fridays, a staple element of RoCo, since 2007, these prior events have helped to set the stage for them to grow and evolve. These new cultivations have thus established a new life and reborn energy for the Rochester Biennial.

As a curator, Cease states that “my job is to help the artists realize their vision fully.” Having these artists come in and work with these small venue sized spaces weaves a relationship that is crucial to the local art community. These six weeks are dedicated to celebrating these shared spaces and the efforts of all those who have helped to make this possible. These artists become the shining beacons of the visual art community, and Cease shares that he hopes this event serves as a catalyst to give them more acknowledgment throughout the year.

Current Seen consists of group and solo exhibitions. However, it’s not just the artists who deserve recognition, but the curators as well. Curating is a full-time job that requires months of planning, preparation, and proper execution. In order to make this event run smoothly, the curators for Current Seen have been hard at work behind the scenes for the past six months. Some even longer. Bleu hopes that the public will become more aware and more understanding of the effort and energy that this job demands. In addition, he hopes that the government will more actively recognize and support their endeavors.

For the next six weeks, Current Seen is going to be grabbing people’s attention. Whether you are from Rochester, currently live here, or are visiting, this event is bound to be a revitalizing experience. Cease notes that “through projects like this we are hopefully going to educate and reinform the public about the depth of the visual arts.” It’s thrilling to see vibrant new artists starting to emerge and break into the scene. At the same time, it’s rejuvenating to see previous ones still fine-tuning their craft and doing what they love.

This is what is current within the Rochester scene. Thanks to artists, curators, and a handful of individuals working behind the scenes, you too get to be part of the art and experience. So whether you are starting at the east end or the west, regardless, we hope to see you there. <<

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