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A permanent home for Rochester Contemporary Art Center

Posted at: 12/06/2012 9:36 PM
Updated at: 12/07/2012 9:31 AM
By: Janet Lomax

A big announcement from one of Rochester's long time art galleries. During the annual “Members Show”, the Rochester Contemporary Art Center on East Avenue announced it is purchasing the 8,000 square foot building it has called home now for a dozen years.

Executive Director Bleu Cease has been keeping it a secret from the 700 members of RoCo until Thursday night. He says this major move raises a small art center to a new level.

Cease said. “We've worked really hard to act as though and build our identity as though we own the building, but ultimately, financially speaking, we were not the owner. So really this isn't going to change our activities in structure, but it's going to allow us to build the organization more successfully."

Rochester Contemporary Arts Center opened its door as Pyramid Arts Center 35 years ago in a tiny little spot, 325 square feet, on Monroe Avenue. A small space, but the guys behind it had big ideas. Albert Robbins, John Kavanaugh and first director Tony Petracca wanted a cooperative art gallery to bring in artists and support local artists. It was a humble beginning and over the years, the gallery moved a total of five times before finally ending up on East Avenue. That was 12 years ago.

Bleu Cease said, “I think some of our members and some people in the community may be surprised to learn we don't own the building.”

It is surprising since moving to the old Moress Clothing Store, RoCo has rocked it with all kinds of exhibits. Now, word from Executive Director Bleu Cease that they're no longer renting, but buying the building, RoCo is putting down permanent roots.

Cease said, “The thing is, for us, ownership is not necessarily the goal, but it really is a means for making the organization permanent, solid, stable and with a solid foundation to continue to grow and to be a destination for contemporary art downtown.”

Buying the building is a big deal for RoCo, Cease says it will reduce the center's long term operating expenses. It will allow the organization to grow and be sustainable and that's what the founders envisioned 35 years ago.