First Timer at First Fridays. At the Hungerford Building with Courtney Kuhn

First Timer at First Fridays. At the Hungerford Building with Courtney Kuhn
many wax

Wall of Brenda Erickson’s gallery.


from Talker invited to the University of Rochester to talk about Talker

On Friday, you met Courtney Kuhn in Talker invited to the University of Rochester to talk about Talker, a collaborative piece based on my visit to a professional resource networking session held for her senior capstone Digital Media Studies class.

Later that evening I had plans to see the First Friday exhibits at the Hungerford Building. Much to my pleasant surprise, when I arrived, there was Courtney. Already at work on her first solo story!  Courtney has the Talker élan.


Albert Paley Sculpture. The now not-so-secret Talker hand sign 9/2/16 [Photo: Courtney]

After an initiation into the secret hand sign known only to the staff, Courtney was on her way.

First Timer at First Friday, the Hungerford Building

How was my first trip to Hungerford’s on Friday? Anyone who has gone to even one First Friday Citywide Gallery Night certainly knows the answer.

Greeted by a live musical performance before the entrance, I strolled in feeling already upbeat about how the night. Taking in work by multitudes of artists, this sort of event simply immerses you in creative stimulation. Exactly what I was hoping for on Friday’s crisp summer evening.

I knew artists would be present, peddling their wares and answering questions. But I unexpectedly had the pleasure of hearing several of them discuss their work at length, far more interested in conveying their passions rather than making a quick buck. Few experiences trump watching a fellow human being express themselves so unapologetically, particularly regarding work they are proud of. It was emotional, educational, and an experience I simply cannot wait another month to have.

2 lady

Pair of figure drawings by Christopher R. Jones.

One of the artists I spoke with was a fairly new up-and-comer, specializing in figure drawings that captured drastic proportions and expressive features. Christopher R. Jones took the time to show me many of his pieces that were not currently on public display. He went on to describe his process and feelings towards each of his different images, making me, an ordinary onlooker, feel like I could see the human body through his eyes.

Big wax

Crafted with wax by Brenda Erickson.


Griddle, wax, and brushes used by Erickson for her collection.

Up the stairs and around the corner, I met Brenda Erickson. Many of the works on display were encaustic, featuring elaborate collage work. I was treated to a thorough discussion about her process, including a display of her tools. Using a griddle to heat and liquify, Erickson experiments with different temperatures and dilutions of wax for her pieces. She comfortably explained how the learning process is never over and her best works are often still yielded from accidents.

Big fab

“Book of the Ancients 16, mixed media” Collaged papers by Jeanne Raffer Beck.

One of the last artists I stumbled upon that Friday evening was Jeanne Raffer Beck. Yet again, I was privileged with a lot of personal time to speak with the artist as she explained the thematic meaning behind her pieces and how each individual collage had its own specific intention beyond the overarching theme. In the middle of the room, Beck had placed spools of the different fabrics she uses in her works and displayed them as if they were a a piece of artwork themselves. Touching the fabrics made the art both literally and figuratively more tangible to me as an onlooker, and I applaud the inclusion of raw materials in her gallery space.


Collaged papers displayed by Beck, including industrial spun polyester backing and gold leaf.

Beck continued our discussion by disclosing how her experiences and memories inspired some pieces, unlocking one of the best kept secrets of any artist: What does it mean? In this case, the fragility of the mind and the fluidity of thought. An answer that added a whole level of depth to the work that I would have never appreciated in my own random meandering.

First Friday amounts to so much more than a repetitive sequence of names, picture, and price tags. It was an enlightening experience wherein personal connections and educational dialogues were the true centerpieces in a massive gallery space. I cannot wait for October 7th and I truly hope to see an ever-growing attendance for every First Friday following.

Courtney Kuhn

A kicking First Friday at Anderson Arts Building

Emerging artists coming of age in Rochester at the Corn Hill Arts Festival

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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