Tall friends come in handy at RoCo’s 6×6 raffle

Tall friends come in handy at RoCo’s 6×6 raffle

reaching (l-r) Andy VanderHorst, Jeff Kincaid; below (l-r) Miranda Zupp, Kristin Lundy, Laurine Zupp 6/4/16

Real “Sixers” take the 6×6 raffle at the Rochester Contemporary Art Center seriously. At opening night of the exhibition — before the general onrush — twenty raffle winners get a brief free rein run to purchase artwork. Every year, the show includes donated pieces by famous artists — plums to be picked by lucky Sixers.

admission booth

RoCo’s admission table, Melanie (left) and Lindsay 6/4/16

As described by Jessie, SUNY Purchase student, RoCo intern and the evening’s photographer, a couple of years ago one man went to great lengths to locate the famous artists ahead of time. A postal mail delivery man in his twenties, the connoisseur would come to the gallery every day for about three weeks prior to the raffle.

Don’t ask Jessie where are the famous artists. 6/4/16

To no avail, the man cajoled the staff for clues —  as I had done with RoCo’s Executive Director Bleu Cease in my own stymied quest for “famousiness.”

As Jesse said, the man would, indiscriminately, “flirt with both boys and girls in search of insider info.” Eventually the man honed in on the correct object. While he did not win a free rein run in the raffle, the man snapped up the piece the moment purchasing was open to the all. Jessie has not seen him since.

As the packed event would require her full focus — as seen in her pre-event art game face — Jessie herself carefully prepared. Outfit functionality was key. While black was required, the fabric needed to be breathable as the room would get stuffy as the evening progressed.  For ease of motion, shorts kept under skirt. For maximum mobility shoes needed to be flat and comfy. Wardrobe set, Jessie captured the evening in a photo montage you will soon see on RoCo’s homepage.

WXXI cameraman Jeremy Steinkamp got into his zone with a pre-art Amp energy drink and a Leinenkugle.

WXXI cameraman, Jeremy Steinkamp 6/4/16

As for the Leinenkugle, while Jeremy, a SUNY Fredonia grad, loves working for WXXI, it doesn’t pay as well as Fox News. Having covered the show earlier in the week, Jeremy knew his way around the maze of 6×6’s. Jeremy’s footage and report will be seen in an upcoming WXXI Arts in Focus program.

Sandy Giannimi (below the — probably — pieces by Wendell Castle)

One particularly avid Sixer is Sandy Giannimi. Having been to many 6×6’s, Sandy has a whole wall at home decorated with its artwork. When her schedule permits, Sandy likes to come 2 or 3 times before the opening. Not seeking famous artists — she’s never been lucky at raffles anyway — Sandi’s favorites cover a wide range: water colors, weavings, wood works, and nature photographs. In her mind and marked on her map, Sandy has a pre-planned route when the first onrush begins.

Sandy also employs a touch of trickery. To place “purchase dots” on high up artworks, it helps to have a tall friend, in Sandy’s case, her 6’4” son. In admitted bribery, for his birthday Sandi gave her son and his wife two passes and some raffle tickets for the opening. While Sandy’s son is a fine boy, yes, there was the ulterior motive of his long, dotting, grasp.

In the photo, Sandi said you can see works by Wendell Castle. She wouldn’t say which ones, except that Castle works with wood.

me 1

RoCo crew ready to raffle. Like Jessie I wore my pre-art game face (and specially chosen Beatles’ Abby Road shirt) [Photo: Jessie]

Kaitlyn, first time Sixer, guarding Frederick Douglass who she would shortly “do

Apparently, the young women Sixers in the featured pic also choose their male companions just a tad based on height.  In a pre-event warmup, the young woman — appreciatively — coached the guys on proper dotting technique. The young gentlemen said they were happy to do anything for art.

Excited at her first 6×6, Kaitlyn had staked out her “art territory” as she called it, with an eye on a painting of Frederick Douglass. Her intimidating presence kept other Sixers at bay, and Kaitlyn swiftly landed Fred.

Jack Garner announcing raffle winners. Bleu Cease (right)

Jack Garner was the event MC. As Jack said in his brief speech, he thinks the event is wonderful for its democratic or leveling elements. You don’t have to be a famous artist to participate. As Jack had four pieces of his own in the exhibition, he told the crowd he can now say, Jack Garner has shown at RoCo.

As for those pieces, two are photographs from family vacations; while the others are designed for broader appeal. I can’t reveal the subject of those two, but maybe one hint. Think baseball player, playwright and President.

When Jack announced the raffle winners, the fun and melee began. Jessie and Jeremy leapt into action. Wendell Castle’s work went immediately.  In In Search of Famousiness, I had included a nude to focus any wavering reader’s (and writer’s) attention. When I left, none of the four (below) had been taken.


In July, we find out if these are Castles.

Jeremy and Jessie as the art melee ensues

At her post-game news conference, Sandy announced success. She nabbed her first choice. And while missing on 2,3 and 4, Sandy scored 5 though 10.

As importantly, Sandy had gladly donated four of her own pieces, whose purchase would benefit the Art Center. Despite not-great positioning on the walls, three sold quickly. Sandy also brought four new wannabe Sixers who had — as did we all — a great 6x6x2016.

In In Search, I discussed how “Fool’s Gold” (unfinished) would not appear in this year’s 6×6, but was still available to the general public with proceeds donated to the Art Center.

Inspired by a proganda sign I took to the Ted Cruz rally at MCC, — if finished by its VFA — “Fool’s Gold” will read: A Very Famous Artist Made This. Worth A Lot of Gold.

The concept — playing with ideas about art celebrity — is to see if people will think “Fool’s Gold” is made by a very famous artist (and buy it). Or might people like the meta-concept, and buy “Fool’s Gold” for its own sake.

We’ll see at 6x6x2017.


Sneak preview of our 2018 Rochester Contemporary 6 X 6 submission

In Search of Famousiness at RoCo’s 6X6X2016

Art and a fumbled football merge at Rochester Contemporary

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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