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Artists seek the edge with indie approach
August 31, 2007 — Rochester Business Journal — Sheila Livadas, staff writer
photograph of founders
Second Storie founders, left to right: Karen Stocks, Cris Sasso, Shanna Murray, JoAnn McGranahan.
Photograph by Mike McGranahan.

Folks who wend through Rochester's arts-and-craft fairs do encounter some variety among the vendors.

Just think of how often you've poked through funky lawn ornaments at one booth and then checked out traditional oil paintings at the next.

Still, a group of artists committed to giving the arts-and-craft circuit here an injection of edginess have banded together to found Second Storie } Indie Market, slated for Sept. 7 and 8 at Visual Studies Workshop on Prince Street.

Shanna Murray, co-founder of Second Storie, says although she enjoyed showing her work at the Memorial Art Gallery's Clothesline Festival last year, it didn't feel like the ideal fit.

“There's a lot of very good art there, but it's just more of a traditional spin,” says Murray, a self-taught artist specializing in linen apparel and craft.

Murray says Second Storie will be deliberately small—about 20 jury-selected vendors in all—to create “something like a home” for the artists.

“Really, it's about creating a sense of community, like a small family,” she explains.

Karen Stocks, another co-founder who will show cable-knit handbags and wallets at the market, says Second Storie has already brought her personal and professional rewards.

“I was intrigued by the opportunity to bring my friendships with each of these (co-founders) to a completely new level,” says Stocks, a Brighton resident. “It sounds cliché, but you really do learn a lot about a person—especially yourself—when you work hard, through various obstacles and stepping stones, to reach a certain goal together.

“On a professional level, this has been a perfect jump-start in my motivation to push beyond the hobby realm and intto something more legitimate,” she says.

Participating vendor Michelle Bellanti says she's looking forward to the market's intimate setting.

“It's more (about) craft with an art bent to it, which is exactly what I do. It seems like a perfect fit,” the Rochester-based jewelry designer says.

Bellanti plans to show several one-of-a-kind pieces at the market, including some featuring glass beads she bought in Venice.

“I did a lot of new stuff this summer with new materials for me—bigger, chunkier, more geometric designs … that type of work,” says Bellanti, who creates her wares in the company of Bodoni, her Boston terrier. “A lot of different colors for me too—blues, oranges and reds.”

After participating in the Corn Hill Arts Festival twice, mixed-media artist Colette Quaglia also was searching for a new place to show her work. An advertisement on Craig's List about Second Storie quickly piqued her interest.

“Even though (Corn Hill) was really fun, I was a bit disappointed in the diversity of paintings and drawings I was seeing,” says Quaglia, who lives in Canandaigua. “So when I read about this show, I thought it sounded like it would be a great venue for me.”

Using various types of paper—graph, collage, even writing paper—as well as fabric and acrylic or watercolor paint, Quaglia focuses on themes related to nature and pattern.

“There always seems to be something inside my head—some leaves that I saw or a pattern that hasn't been going away—just something I know I have to get down on paper,” she says.

Rochester-based illustrator Marlene Heuer expects Second Storie to project a strong “quality over quantity” message.

“Having a show like this is such a breath of fresh air because it reminds people to calm down and realize how much time and effort and love is put into fine art and craft,” she says.

Heuer's space at Second Storie will feature small drawings and prints from an illustration series about endangered North American animals, such as the black-footed ferret and the grey whale.

“I am an animal activist and have been looking for any way I can help raise awareness of how much our actions affect the rest of the world,” Heuer explains.

No matter how many purses or wallets she sells, Stocks says she's grateful for the chance to help open a new chapter in Rochester's arts-and-craft scene.

“For the sake of our vendors and our shoppers, we are bringing this area something new.”

Copyright © 2007, Rochester Business Journal