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Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Rochester Warner Family Legacy Day 3

The Sibley Building.  This building took up where the Granite building left off.  Sibleys had been in the Granite building till the great fire.  While the building was left standing  the store had still been gutted by it.  A fire of that magnitude would have normally destroyed a business like Sibleys, but they had one thing going for them.  Long before the fire the company had realized that they were outgrowing the building and had already purchased the land at the corner of Main and Clinton and had hired Warner to design the new building.

So, when they fire was out they looked to the new property and quickly built a temporary building to house the store and with in months were doing business.  What probably saved the company was probably the fact that even though all their records were destroyed, telling them who owed them how much for items purchased before the fire, people came in and still payed about 90% of that money. 

Over the next two years and the current building was built different departments kept moving from place to place within the building as sections were finished.  The original building ended construction were you see the drawing above.  Over the years more floors were added and changes were made to the one they already had.

By the time Juli and I moved here most of the building sat vacant, Its clock tower dormant for years.  Only Monroe Community College and a few small shops remained.  Now, though, that is going through a major renovation.  Its' newest owners are pumping 200 million into it.  From the tower down everything is being restored or renovated into mixed usage space, from retail, restaurant, business and residential.  The roof is even getting a make over.  Some changes have already started happening. 

This is one example of a historic landmark coming back into the spotlight..

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Rochester Warner Family Legacy Day 2

The Granite Building. Designed in 1893 by A J Warner it was the city's first ever skeletal steel high rise.  It was originally built as a Department Store.  A.J. claimed it was totally fireproof.  It wasn't long till that was tested.

In 1904 a fire broke out in the basement of one of the adjoining buildings and so started one of the biggest fires in the history of the city.  Soon after the fire started the Rochester Fire Chief decided that this was going to be a fire too big for them alone to handle.  So a call went out to the Syracuse and Buffalo fire departments.  With in a half hour of getting the call the Syracuse fire dept was moving out the the train station to load up there engines.  They arrived 2 hours later in with in 5 minutes were off the train cars and racing to the scene.

They manned some of the most dangerous spots of the fire and stayed on duty till  the hot spots were out.  Most of the buildings around the Granite building were total losses and the Granite building took significant damage but in the end it was covered in ice but still standing.

This building had been built for the Sibleys Department stores as their flagship store.  Several years later the store moved to the building that bear its name now.  But,  this building is still standing strong and in good use as office space.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Rochester Warner Family Legacy

Well - now - I wanted to show off another of the posters I have created.  This one is called "The Rochester Warner Family legacy".  It centers on two men, father and son.  The father was named Andrew Jackson Warner, The one in the white hat.  And the son was John Foster Warner.  Together their work spans almost 80 years.  Of the the buildings they designed that are still standing most are still in use today.  To simplify things I have picked 8 of the most widely known buildings in Rochester.  Their mark, though spans most of the western half of New York. 

I will start with what I have here as maybe the smallest of the bunch, the "All Souls Chapel" in the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.  An English Gothic styled church.  I have yet to spend some time at the cemetery to document it.  But, by far, this chapel is the main reason I want to go there.  It is beautiful.  I have passed it numerous times on the bus and keep telling myself "some day"  That tower is the epitome of medieval castle to me. 

Sketches from the "Art of Preservation" conference in Geneva NY

The "Art of Preservation" Conference was a couple of days of lectures and networking that was a bit exhausting.  We listened to talks about how communities have worked to find new uses for old properties, Churches remodeling some of their property to lower cost of maintenance and make money off of it, how younger groups are working to bring attention to long forgotten spaces and make them attractive and a miriad of other subjects.

For me, the lectures were cool but it was a weekend of networking for me.  New business cards and brochures, new posters and just plain meeting people.  Most of the time I was tired, but I plastered that smile on my face and made a point of talking to total strangers - a lot.  Still, I made a point of sketching the day away too.  Mostly, in the sessions, it was drawing the backs of peoples heads.  And having to get the spirit of the session and place down meant very quick, sometimes exagerated drawing.
Some parts I felt like an outsider - so - the sketchbook was a way to keep myself busy, and get people to come to me.  Very often sketching is what keeps me from nodding of and able to concentrate on the speaker.  Other times it is a way to relax.
The venue for the weekend was the Geneva Opera house.  Very dark and simply covered in gold on the inside.  There was detail everywhere.  Even the ceiling had tiny lights mimicking stars.  the last session on Saturday took place in there and I was having a hard time staying awake. So I took out the pad and quick sketched the stage.  Not an easy task in almost total blackout.  I did it in pen and ink and memorized the colors around me then water colored them in later.
The next day was really only 2 sessions - one on how to use social media to your advantage(a great one for me) and a field session.  I chose to go on the "Urban Sketching as Activisim"  A group of 8 of us spent 2 hours going around the area sketching scenes.  It was the last and least developed one that intriqued me the most, an alley way.  But I put my attention on each location we went to to draw

Monday, April 27, 2015

Rochester Postcard Project Day 39

So, finally, the last postcard.  I end up back at the first site I ever went to in Rochester just for the sake of seeing it.  Charlotte beach and Lake Ontario, one of the Great Lakes.  So big it goes over the horizon.  It had been years since I had been to a real beach.  And I grew up surrounded by them, living in Puerto Rico for so many years.  I had missed it.  But it would be a few months before I went down there.  I moved here in January.

But when I did it was early spring and still windy with wind swept clouds and freezing.  A couple of months later I came down during the warmer months and really enjoyed the view.  The water was still cold(it never got warm) but walking in the sand was fun.  Accept for avoiding the seagull poop.  Boy, I am making this place sound SOOO great.  LOL.  Anyway I still did see the beauty of the place as the sun set.  For eight minutes the entire area was bathed in deep orange light and the shadows cast giants in the sand.  I was awe struck.

This is the contrast of the city of Rochester.  From big industry, to lavish mansions and ending with  wonderful sunsets, it has it all.  And we are considered a small city.  Oh well, got to love it.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Rochester Postcard Project Day 38

Not far from the Charlotte Light House I found this bridge.  The Hojack Swing Bridge.  I was immediately drawn to it when I saw it.  I had never heard of a swing bridge, let alone seen one, before seeing this one.  It fascinated me.  Just a few yards upriver there is a true draw bridge but this onw did not lift out of the way of boat traffic, rather, it pivoted on a large column in the middle of the river.

By the time I saw it it had long stopped being used since the 70's.  It showed its signs of age, rotted wood and rusting beams, but it still look majestic and strong.  There was already a fight to get it torn down and to save it.  I befriended the the president of the group trying to save it.  However, I already could see the writting on the wall.  So I did several drawings of the bridge.  The postcard I did early on.

The Hojak Bridge is an example, though, of the short sighted thinking that we still work towards changing.  The group had already had a feasibility study done, a buyer and architectual plans done up to turn the bridge into a restaurant/museum, but, there was too much pressure to demolish it even though it was marked as a historic landmark.  So, last year it came down. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Rochester Postcard Project Day 37

This place is close to my heart, the Charlotte Light House.  It is one of the first restored sites that I was able to explore here in Rochester.  Of all the buildings I have drawn of this city this is the one I have drawn the most.  Early on I became friends with the members of the historical society that is working to preserve and make it available to the public.

This drawing was done early on since it has the power lines running to it.  They have since been buried and shutters have been added to all the windows, including the fake ones.  I have been through the loss of their lens in the lighthouse to the return of an other one. 

I have even been hired to create a coloring book of the history of the area for their gift shop.  I will be making more trips there this summer and plan on making more drawings of the site.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Rochester Postcard Project Day 36

So, one early spring I decided to walk all the way down to Charlotte beach from my home.  I took a shortcut down a trail under the power lines that lead down towards the lake.  This trail lies in between back yards.  Near the end of the trail I came across a gulf course.  A small one, only 9 holes.  because this trail ran in between back yards  I came across the maintenance sheds and parking lot.  There were 4 tractors parked there and they look like this below.

Two of them had red snow plows attached and two with these green ones.  I was enamored with the flowing, elegant shape of the plows juxtaposed to the old industrial tractors.  when picking which ones to draw I picked the green because it was spring and the plants were budding everywhere.

This is an example of drawing something just because it caught my eye.  No historical or preservation just - WOW, COOL.  Yeah, yeah, I know boys and their toy tractors and trucks. But, they were cool.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Rochester Postcard Project Day 35

So, when I found out that the main water falls in Rochester were called High Falls I figured there had to be a Low falls.  It didn't take me long to find out that indeed I was right.  But, where was it?  It was a good year into living in Rochester before I found it behind a Dollar General off of Lake Ave.

The first time I went there I sketched this scene out.  It has a working Hydroelectric power plant at the bottom of it.  I had seen, by this time, some photos taken at the bottom.  All these years later and I haven't figured out how to get down there.  But, there is plenty to see up here.

What blew me away was how the plant gets its water to run it.  Someone thought it would be a good idea to blast a vertical shaft in the middle of the of the river then out near the bottom of the next level of the river into the plant.  That was near the beginning of the of the 20th century.  They had to divert the river around the site, dig the shaft and build the plant to manage it.  And it is still running today - WOW. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Rochester Postcard Project Day 34

So - as you can guess by now, I look for the stuff people miss or out right ignore.  When a place has been thee for over a hundred years there are many spot that get lost or forgotten.  This drawing is of one of those spots.

One day I found myself exploring around High Falls.  Really making a point to look for stuff I had missed.  There was quite a lot of industry there over a century ago.  And while there are some big chunks of it purposely preserved There is always something that slipped.

This day I walked to the closest spot to the top of the Falls that anyone can get to.  On the west bank I leaned of the empty window of an old factory and watched the water tumble over the edge.  After a while I looked up river towards the overpass for the interstate and the rail road bridge.  There on a ledge of each pylon was an electric pole that had to be from the late 1800's to early 1900's.  The had no wire on them and they are rotting away, but there they stood.  I guess they were in a too precarious location to spend the money to take them down.

So now we have a snap shot of that time.  It wasn't until this very week that I found out that they were part of the system of wires coming out of the old RG&E power plant that was built into the cliff side on the eastern side.  That building stills stands, all boarded up.  I hear they have plans for it.  Maybe they can also figure out a way to incorporate these towers too.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Rochester Postcard Project Day 33

The Lehigh Valley Rail Road Station in Rochester.  A prominent Railroad for its time in this area.  These spire drew my attention the first time I saw them.  And it is a great example of preservation of our past.
This building is now the Dinosaur Restaurant.  A good BBQ joint. 

It also holds a strong place for me since the John Payton Project( my cousins band) plays there regularly.  But, all that aside, I just love the attention to the details in even a small train station like this one.  This building was a statement piece for the rail road. 

I have seen photos of the station when it was in operation and they took pride in this place.  The fact that it is now a place to eat doesn't detract from its past but celebrates it as a gathering place that it has always been

Monday, April 20, 2015

Rochester Postcard Project Day 32

So, today I am talking about one of Rochester most recognized landmarks, the Kodak Tower.  Built back before cars.  It is hard to think of someone riding by in there horse and buggy and looking up on this. Still, it is impressive, even when Kodak gets in the news TODAY for the wrong reasons.

That big hack of SONY several months ago revealed how bad off Kodak really is.  Emails from the CEO reveal haw far he's been fighting to convince the big studios to buy their film.  Enough said on that matter for now though.

This scene was done while I was standing by that parking garage that I used to stay dry and to draw the DNA stairs.  When the rain died down I stepped out to this.  I had to draw it so I quickly lay'd out the basic shapes then took a snapshot (it was still threatening more rain).  Then I caught the next bus home.

I wanted to get the detail down pat and that included all those windows.  When your tower is only an inch tall that means very small windows.  But, I had an ace up my sleeve, my fathers glasses.  He'd given a pair of his old ones to me and they are strong.  When I need to see up VERY close I use his.  With them I was able to draw in EVERY window visible.

  Why did I do all that.  Well the tower had been going through some renovation for over a year and it had scaffolding covering it up.  At this point it was minimal - about half way up, but it was going to work its way all the way up.  So I wanted to capture it before it was too covered up.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Rochester Postcard Project Day 31

Another forgotten monument.  This time for the Spanish American War.  Knowing history now, a totally useless war fought - in my opinion - for American Imperialism.  Possibly why this monument is not center stage anymore.

At first I didn't see it.  It was behind some trees.  Literally, the trees were right up in the face of this giant eagle.  It was in a tiny cement park behind the Blue Cross Arena, "or also known as the War Memorial Arena".  It wasn't until I came all the way around the Arena and came back to the same park from the other side that I saw the Eagle.

To get this angle I had to climb up into the cement planter that has the tree in front of it and lean back against the tree trunk, looking up.  It is large.  Its style is very simplistic and reminded me of propaganda artwork.  Very bold and strong.  Usually , to me, that just slaps of over compensating or trying hard to shout out doubts that might be lingering.

Still, it does make a statement and IS a beautiful statue.  I may love history, and military history more, but that does come with a good sense of understanding what we have done right and wrong as a country.  This war was wrong but we did have it and some brave things did happen.  Hiding it behind some trees still doesn't mean we should forget it.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Rochester Postcard Project Day 30

Ten more days and I will be finished with this series. Woo hoo!.  Anyway, I am still at Mount Hope cemetery.  This is, I am told, the oldest mausoleum there.  Yet another family with no one to care for the site.

It is built into the side of the hill and made of a very soft stone.  Most of the facade details have long ago been wiped off.  The stone floor in front of it has several family members buried under it and some of the lettering is still there but they too are wearing away.  And, as you can see there is plenty of plant life growing up through the lay'd stone floor in front of it.

Why did I decide then to draw this one then?  As I was wondering around a woman in her 20's came up to this monument and sat down on the steps leading into the mausoleum and started writing a note. I left her to her privacy, but when she left I noticed a shoe box left behind.  Thinking she may have forgotten it I went over to pick it up and get it back to her.  But, that wasn't the case. Inside the box was a gift - what you see below.

The young lady had left a pair of shoes there for the homeless with the note saying something to the effect that whoever wanted these she hoped would bless them. I was touched by it and decided to leave it there, back up and draw the scene you see below.  

To me, even though there wasn't any family there to maintain the mausoleum the mausoleum had become a focal point for blessing others.  They were picked up by someone within the hour(no one from the cemetery staff) 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Rochester Postcard Project Day 29

So for months I had passed by this location and was intrigued. The Mount Hope cemetery.  A victorian jewel for the city  with tons of history in it. Susan B Anthony and Fredrick Douglas of national fame are buried here along with a veritable who's who of the builders of this city. 

When it was proposed the people of the city thought it was the worst location for a cemetery.  But, the city went ahead and did the work to set it up.  When they were done the same people that derided it now lined up to save plots to be buried there.  Unlike most cemeteries, built of flat gentle land, this land is a maze of hills.  And that is what makes this place so beautiful. 

Small plots here and there lay'd out to fit the terrain.  Some areas were set aside for certain groups of people.  There is a spot for the dead brought back from the Civil War. Other plots setup for family's.  It is a definite exercise to walk this property, but at one point I decided to hike up this one tree covered hill because I could see the shadow of a mausoleum at the top. 

As I approached it came into view.  This scene here.  So forgotten, no family to care for it, that the trees were even growing out of the roof of the portico.  There are several like this with no one to care for it.  I did come across one woman pulling weeds and cleaning up the tombstone of her parents.  They have staff here to take care of the grounds but some areas look neglected. 

Still, it is this look that makes this cemetery stand out as a place to go - as a beauty to be drawn.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Rochester Postcard Project Day 28

Like punched out teeth of a boxer this gash is the last exposed remnant of the city's foray into its subway system.  This scar is all but ignored.  A year or two before my wife and I moved here there was still the subway building standing in the open area to the right.  But, sadly, the city decided to demolish it.

Our current Lt Gov. was once our city's Mayor.  He, once, threw a great big party in the section of the subway that is under the Broad street  bridge.  His intent, to raise money to turn the entire bridge into a a "water" park across the Genesee river.  Not one to play in but a big reflection pool across the river.  Effectively cutting off use of that bridge as a bridge for cars.

Anyway, that never went through, thank God.  But because of the work done for that party They had built a wooden stair case down into this old thoroughfare.  I went down into it once after the party and walked all the way from the Blue Cross arena - under the Public library(seen in this drawing-the big block building in the middle) and out through this station stop.

I drew this at this angle because it reminded me of the scar on the city that it is.  There are parts of this city's history that need some attention.  This is one of them.  Here, at this spot, it is crumbling - but it can be preserved as part of the history of the transportation tech that made this city possible.  This spot - through to the arena represents the Erie canal, the railroad, the subway and the road ways that built this city - all in one spot.  That should be preserved to be seen.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Rochester Postcard Project Day 27

What a difference a change of angle makes.  This is the same rail yard and same wire bridge.  But this one I drew from the over pass of Main St.  As I walked over the rail lines I stopped to watch for a while.  It was a busy day there and this engine was constantly pulling back and forth under me. 

It appeared as if they were setting up a long trail of cars for a journey out west, or south - who knows.  Anyway, it was interesting to watch the dance of back and forth, switch tracks, lock onto a set of cars and repeat.  I watched this for a good hour or so. 

As I mentioned, my maternal grandfather had a passion for this.  He worked the railroad for a while during the depression and it stayed in his veins for life.  I remember is small train set set up in his home when I was a boy and it fascinated me.  I have two little train set buildings, my mom and dad have one of my grandfathers and my uncle Walt has his own setup too.

This is not a love of beauty or aesthetic or style, just for a way of life that I drew this scene.  The railroad did have its own set of aesthetic too but here it is just remembering my grandpa

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Rochester Postcard Project Day 26

Two thirds of the way through and I have reached one of my grandfathers passions so it is also mine, that being the railroad.  This city got rich off the Erie Canal, but it boomed when the railroad came to town.  Of course it is what made the whole country but here we are.

 Many times I was down by Goodman Ave. so I was also near the main hub for the railroad for Rochester.  I hung around the area enough that the workers left me alone.  They would see me with my camera or sketch pad and knew I wasn't stupid enough to go out on the lines. 

This area was the height of the industrial.  Little thought was given to style and aesthetic.  That in itself ends up giving the site a certain beauty all its own.  This construct, as far as I could tell was only for passing lines from one side of the rails to the other without being under the weight of trains.  The crisscross of the beams forming X"s may make this wire bridge sturdy but also make an interesting repetitive design, standing out alone. Like a sentinel.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Rochester Postcard Project Day 25

This is one of two I did from the same spot.  The other one will come later, but this one I did because it was raining.  As I walked down State street towards High Falls it began to rain.  At a quick glance I saw a spot that was covered and I ran to it.  It was the parking garage across from Frontier Field stadium.  As I stood there my eyes began to wonder. Normally that means at eye level, however this time my eyes where led up.

And what I saw there caught me off guard.  Yes, it is a stair case for the garage.  The lines radiating out, though made me stop there.  I whipped out the sketchbook and drew this scene.  It reminded me of a diagram of DNA. Yet another example of modern design getting it right.  The aesthetic of it drew me in.

When an architect takes the time to approach their work as art, not just function, they design a building that makes a statement. And this is one example, a parking garage stair case.  Who would've thought.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

rochester Postcard Project Day 24

This is a good example of mixing sketching with camera shots.  The Ford Street bridge wasn't going any where so it was easy enough to sketch, along with the background but the boat and the seagulls were on the move.  Now the Boat was still easy enough to lay down too, but I did have to take a snap shot to get some of this down. 

The Boat is the Mary Jemison and use to take people on rides up the Genesee river.  It has been retired.  An occasion of just getting to old to maintain but still a loss  for the city.  I drew this because it epitomized the summer activities here. 

The seagulls on the other hand were all over the place - hence the snap shot.  They are the one thing in this drawing that I  purposely  arranged.  But the image is what you would see if you came here during the summer.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Rochester Postcard Project Day 23

At the highest point of Highland Park sits this, the Lamberton Conservatory.  It was named after Alexander Lamberton the Parks Board president here from 1905 to 1915.  The original building was built in 1911.  What you see here is a reconstruction.  Over the years the interior heat and humidity took its toll on it and it had to be torn down to it foundation. 

Thank God the city saw fit to rebuild it exactly as it use to look like. They even reused sections of the building where they could.  So what you see here is a modern rendition of a piece of the city's history.  I have drawn inside and out of this building on several occasions.  I will never forget sitting at one of its interior benches so long the the quail inside came out of hiding and started running around my feet. 

This building is a strong reminder to me of how much importance the city puts into its history.  And - hey - it is a lovely building.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Rochester Postcard Project Day 22

Books marks to a crowded section of the city. Crowded with short buildings.  As I walked to one of my bus stops I noticed this site.  It is a hoge poge of  buildings from different eras of this city making up a jubled mess that was a bit insignificant because of that.  But two landmarks set up the scene. 

One, the Kodak tower, that will never go away. And the other the smoke stack for the old power plant by High Falls.  The tower, I feel, will always be there.  It is one of those buildings that define this city.  It was built before cars came along.  The other is already gone.

I understand progress and believe it must continue.  But, as my wife and I have learned from watching "Planet Earth", all progress must be measured by what we gain and what we loose.  Sure the power plant is no longer used and that land can be used for something else.  However, is there more we can do to save the parts of the city that stand out.

I talked several days ago about the mercury statue here that was brought down but saved and later put back up in its original spot to celebrate our past.  That one smoke stack was recognizable for miles and for many years had the logo of the falls painted on it.  Not all smoke stacks should be saved and there is one further down the river that should be looked at to mark the early industrial history of the city.  But that one stood out from the rest.  Maybe that is why it came down so fast and others are still there.