Last week, I dropped in unexpectedly on Richard Margolis at his Anderson Alley studio. Despite the fact that he was working–and certainly not expecting a visitor–he invited me to pull up a chair and have a cup of coffee with him so we could discuss his project, Rochester Public Art .
Richard is an art and architectural photographer by trade and passion, and one of Rochester’s renowned artists. He became a photographer by fortuitous accident when he was detoured away from business and journalism at Kent State. After completing his Master’s degree in photography at RIT , he remained in Rochester.
His inspiration to photograph and chronicle Rochester’s Public Art came in 1992 when he did an exhibition at the former Dawson Gallery. The original show focused on 24 outdoor sculptures and became the foundation of a grander endeavor: his collection of more than 200 photographed pieces, now showcased on the Rochester Public Art website. The collection, which he continues to grow, is composed primarily of outdoor sculpture, monuments, murals and memorials.
Richard shared that he enjoys photographing pieces that tell a story. Certainly, the collection offers much to contemplate, from the soaring Genesee Passage sculpture by Albert Paley, to the whimsical sculpture of Chubby , by Vincent Massaro, which pays tribute to the last fire horse in Rochester. Then there’s the historically inspired Let’s Have Tea by Pepsy Kettavong and the socially concious Pride Symbols by Christine Knoblauch.
Among this collection, you will also find Rochester Landmarks by Richard Margolis. These stunning photographs are mounted at the Rochester International Airport and welcome visitors to the city. They, along with a number of other commissioned pieces, set off a political controversy in 1991 in which a conservative politician blocked the use of public funding for airport art. Fortunately, supporters privately raised over $186,000, allowing the installations to take place.
In his 1992 commentary In Appreciation of Public Art, Margolis states “PUBLIC ART is heroic, not only in scale but in the risk it demands of the artist. Making a piece that will be there forever, however long that may be, requires a lot of courage.”
He goes on to say that works of Public Art are monuments to great accomplishments and reflect the values of the community. In paying homage to these works by capturing them through his lens, Margolis reminds us that these great artistic achievements are a quintessential way to see and understand Rochester, the Image City of the World.
To see the entire collection, Click on Rochester Public Art Slideshow
All photos courtesy of Richard Margolis.
If you enjoyed this post, you may want to read my post about ARTISANworks, where many of Richard’s works are displayed.