Monroe shows itself off as the road to Rochester

Monroe shows itself off as the road to Rochester

Under the Living Tree [Photo: Living Tree fan]

The Show on Monroe was a day to see old friends and make new ones.

As explained by Janice Gouldthorpe, Executive Director of the Genesee Center for the Arts and Education, six years ago was the first Spokes and Inks Festival. Two years later began The Show itself, now featuring over twenty buskers. Janice estimates that over 2000 people — most from nearby neighborhoods but every year more and more from outlying suburbs — enjoyed this picture perfect day of Living Trees, street music, art and boutique shopping.

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Anna Gleason (left, author of “The Show on Monroe!”) and Maddy Feldman on their way to the Scavenue Hunt. 6/4/16

For Janice, Monroe Avenue is all about urban eclecticism — and Monroe as the most traveled thoroughfare leading directly into downtown Rochester.  So what better way to show off the road into the Flower City than a day of color from Cobb’s Hill to the Strong Museum.

Two of the first Avenue goers I met were Anna Gleason (Canisius College) and Maddy Feldman (SOTA and Swarthmore College) there for the Scavenue Hunt (that’s showese for Scavenger Hunt). A creative writing major — and very good sport — Anna agreed to provide a narrative of their day.  A creative writing major — perfect as Talker is pioneering “imaginative journalism.”

At the end, see Anna’s “The Show on Monroe!”

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Big Lunch at New Life Presybytarian Church [Photo: Josh Barouth]

Austyn Wright

First stop was the caring side of Monroe. At every Show , New Life Presybytarian Church (pastor, Deborah Fae Swift) provides a “Big Lunch” for all comers.

Throughout the year NLPC is a helping haven on the Avenue, opening its doors for many community activities.  Honorable Joshua Barouth — representing the 24th District and Monroe in the City Legislature — was there and took the photograph.  Tried not to ruin my appetite with too many hot dogs. The Big Lunch went through about 300 burgers and dogs.

At Park Avenue Pets was, of course, Lisa Jacque’s sticker welcoming refugees.  And nearby, Austyn Wright, who runs a dog grooming service in Park Avenue Pets, was helping out at a fishbowl fundraiser.


Alex White.

At Boldo’s Armory was our good friend Alex White who will shortly be explaining why the Green Party offers an alternative to Cinton and Trump.While not yet the Mayor of Rochester, Alex is in the running for the Mayor of Monroe.

The Genesee Center for the Arts and Education served as Show Headquarters, where I met Janice.

Susanna Rose [Photo: Genesee Center volunteer]

Among the many buskers performing was Susanna Rose. Susanna set a philosophical tone with her haunting melodies and vignette musical thought poems.

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co-owner Kira and me at the grand opening of The Hub by Archimage. I was the very first customer! [Photo: co-owner Alex]

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the Transit Apparel stand [Photo: Matt Rogers]

At his stand selling his 26 and counting shirts representing Rochester’s history and neighborhoods, I met Transit Apparel’s Matt Rogers. Visit Matt’s webpage and you’ll see how the shirts are just part of his vision. As Matt says:

Rochester is of the most cultural and artistic cities in the east; but most people outside our city pass us off as ‘Upstate.’  I can’t stand that phrase; it’s not even accurate.  There is so much more to Rochester and I want to show everyone who we are.  I’m looking to combine my passion for art, culture, travel, and history into a showpiece for all Rochesterians.

Matt is 100% right about “Upstate.” A misleading term perpetuated by Upstate Magazine, now so long gone it barely has a digital footprint. In Talker, we use “Western New York.”

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Amber and Caitlyn’s card

Also made sure to be first in line for the grand opening of the Hub by Archimage. So first in line, I actually was the very first purchaser, buying the very first shirt decorated with mushrooms.  ‘Shrooms, that’s more the nighttime show on Monroe.

With Nina [Photo: ice cream fan]


Nina [Photo: ice cream fan]

And you Monroe hedonists remember Eat Me. At its cart, Ninoshka Gomez fed me some scrumptious ice cream. As Nina explained, Amber Odhner, pastry artist and yogi, and Catelyn Augustine, masseur and spirit whisperer, do some pretty unimaginable things with ice cream.

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Alexis Garcia outside Empanda

For some reason still hungry, I spotted Empanda. There, Alexis Garcia said she had not planned the color coordination between her and the stand, but we both agreed it made for an artsy photo op.

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Andy Willoughby

Near Emapanda,was the Chord Teacher World Headquarters of Andy Willoughby. As Andy will tell you — nor do I have reason to disprove — he has broken a kind of universal music code. Well, maybe a stretch, but Andy has been a regular on Monroe for years, catching attention and pleasing ears.


Inside Poster Art

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Tom Winegar (l) and Josh Bassig outside the old Monroe Theater

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The façade of the old Monroe Theater

Next was Poster Art. Along with his posters and other art, owner Jim Russo estimates in his collection are 100,000 postcards, vintage and contemporary. A popular destination, the King himself was seen wandering the aisles at Poster Art.

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Andy’s card

And, of course, the ultimate Monroe icon, the façade where was the old Monroe Theater Playing beneath the friezed nymphs were RIT students Josh Bassig and Tom Winegar.


Josh and Tom’s card

Josh and Tom are too young to have enjoyed the Theater’s Show World (though they know of its namesake near RIT), but said everybody knows of the Monroe Theater. I even found a vintage pic of an anonymous patron at the old Monroe Theater.

Across the road was a collection of vintage street musicans playing with some young buskers in the making. I imagine some of the older gentlemen may have been at the Theater even before 1970 when it began to cater to adults with certain tastes.

buskers compressedAnd Enright’s too. I recently learned that Enright’s is a morning destination for many third shift hospital and other overnight workers who want to wind down after a long shift helping patients or patrolling the streets. For these nocturnal workers, 8am is their happy hour.

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Rachele Maier

Back in March, I was at Enright’s for their unrivalled St. Patrick’s Day celebration (always on the real date, the 17th) where many of those same hospital workers were enjoying green beer before noon.

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At Enright’s for St. Patricks Day, 2016

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Nearby Rachele Maier of Tangents & Poles on Anderson Alley was going airborne.

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Rachele’s card

Busker Ritey and friend Tina

As Tangents is just down the road from The Barrel of Dolls, I wonderd what people thought about that proximity. Rachele said the City of Rochester gave her a hard time, implying she was at Anderson Alley to supply exotic dancers for The Barrel. Rachele explained that only a few of her clients are exotic dancers. Most people just want to learn how to perform truly gymnastic aerial moves. Rachelle said often people first have to work out at the gym before they are ready for the challenges of the pole.

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Rob Martin

Artist/street painter Rob Martin was beautifying the sidewalk and selling ceramics. I showed the Rob the pictures I had accumulated. Donating his practiced eye for their selection, Rob said the collection of artists and strollers is what the Show on Monroe is all about.  Meeting new people and enjoying the day together.

Passing the Rochester Museum of Art where back in April Rochester had seen the traveling road show, Trumpmania.

And Ken Kelbaugh is having another strong season at Before Your Quiet Eyes.

And Kabob where began Shadi’s love affair with the porches of Upper Monroe.

And finally, the Bug Jar where after the St. Patrick’s Day Parade was street theater of an ominious kind.

And, finally, saving the best for last”

The Show On Monroe!

Maddy (leftish) and Anna

By Anna Gleasonwith horse

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a staff paparazzi captured some images of the Scavenuers (here taking just a short rest)

This past weekend, Rochester celebrated its fourth annual “Show On Monroe!” event, which showcases the residents, businesses, and talents of those associated with the well-known Monroe Avenue. While Monroe Avenue has been known for its eccentric shops and diverse establishments for decades, the past few years has brought increased recognition for this day-long event.

The festival features an array of “buskers,” musicians and street performers who group together of perform solo for tips from the attendees. They set up along the entire length of the avenue, serenading pedestrians with such a wide variety of music that it feels as though one is sampling every musical style and genre in a short 30-minute stroll from one end of the avenue to the other.

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Looking like they might need a little gas.


Apparently Maddy fell by the wayside, but Anna scavenges ahead

Arguably the most fun and certainly the most competitive feature of this festival was the “Scavenue Hunt,” in which teams of 2 people must find establishments from a list of clues and collect pictures from each. As a participant I can say it was a supremely lively competition, and the most fun I have ever had while getting a workout. My partner and I raced around the avenue, entering shops we had either driven by a million times without going in, or never even heard of before. We interacted with some extremely friendly people who wished us luck and took pictures for us. Although we were not one of the first teams team to complete the challenges, the bonus points we earned for posing with an art bench and the Mounted Police Patrol earned us a gift basket in the raffle. Even before our team was pulled from the swarm of papers, I feel I can honestly say that I was already rewarded by the experience.

This event is just another example of what this great city has to offer.

The last stop on the way home: the Wayzgoose Vendor Fair in Blessed Sacrament Church (corner of Monroe and Oxford, across the street from the Genesee Center).  There I met RIT Press designer Marnie Soom. Back in 2005 or 2006 just as the Press was starting, I actually submitted the very first manuscript to founder David Pankow. To my surprise, The rhetorical war: Class, Race and Redemption in Spanish-American War fiction rang a bell with Marnie. While David could not use the manuscript — he did take a nice photo for me of the USS Maine Monument in Columbus Circle — you can read it now as a screenplay: Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story. BTW, I will gladly pay to have the screenplay read and improved.

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Marnie Soom at the Wayzgoose Vendor Fair see Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story


Reverend Mothers, Empaths of Enlightenment, American buskers and more at the Park Avenue Festival

On Dante’s bust on Monroe Avenue

To where does the South Wedge compare?


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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